Gold advances to state
SLEEPY EYE – Former New York Yankees’ catcher Yogi Berra once said “It ain’t over til it’s over.”
That cliche may have never been more appropriate than Sunday in the Sub-State 2 D-I championship game in Sleepy Eye.
Mankato National scored a run in the top of the 10th inning to take a 4-3 lead, but New Ulm Gold countered with two runs in the bottom of the inning to defeat National 5-4 and earn a trip to the Minnesota State American Legion Baseball Tournament.
Tyler Dittrich got the win in relief for Gold, which now has a record of 25-7. He pitched the final 3 2/3 innings in relief of starter Gabe Knowles who went 6 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on five hits. Dittrich permitted one run on three hits.
Josh Cook pitched all 10 innings for Mankato National, which finished its season with a 13-15 record.
Jayme Munsterman led Mankato with two hits.
Knowles broke an 0-for-15 slump in the tournament with three hits. Judd Davis added a double for Gold.
Gold will play the Sub-State 3 champion at 10:15 a.m. on Friday at Burnsville at Alemagnet Park Field No. 3.
“We found a way to get it done in the 10th (inning),” said New Ulm Gold coach Jeremy Drexler. “These guys have done it in six or seven games this year. We knew that if we could get one or two runners on base, we would have a shot.”
National broke the 3-3 tie with a run in the top of the 10th inning when Ryan Theissen singled in Shane Sellner.
Gold began its rally when Knowles blooped a single into center field, and Collin Helget drew a walk. Both runners moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Grant Kannegiesser.
Mankato intentionally walked Chase Meyer to load the bases and set up force outs at any base.
The move backfired when Jake Gieseke executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Knowles and tie the game.
That brought up Tanner Kluis with the winning run on third base with one out. Kluis worked Cook to a 3-2 count before he drove the next pitch over the head of National left fielder Steve Nessler to bring in Helget with the game-winning run
“Jake laid down a great squeeze bunt and then Tanner, who we had hitting third yesterday but seventh today, and he got the shot to win it,” said Drexler.
Kluis said Gold got clutch hits when needed.
Kluis said that he hit a change-up from Cook. “He threw a lof of pitches in the game. They had the momentum, but we just kept battling them.”
New Ulm took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Davis led off with a double and went to third on a Knowles; groundout. Davis scored when Kannegiesser’s ground ball was booted for an error.
Davis’ double was the last hit for Gold until the fifth inning when it scored twice. Wyatt Peterson reached on an infield single and moved to second on a Brach Kraus’ sacrifice bunt and took third on a wild pitch. Peterson came home on a fielder’s choice before Collin Helget collected an RBI single.
Mankato pushed two runs across in the fifth inning from Knowles before tieing the game at 3-3 with a run in the sixth on an error, and two singles.
“Dittrich kept us in it until the 10th before we found a way to win it in the 10th.” Drexler said.