Head Coach Tim Kupfer ejected, not allowed to return for title game, Mills forfeits
HAWLEY, Minn. - There was no championship game played Saturday afternoon at the Minnesota Division II, District 9 American Legion baseball tournament, but there was a winner.
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton advanced to the Division II Minnesota Legion baseball state tournament after a forfeit by New York Mills.
"You kind of want to earn it sometimes, but this works, I guess," said D-G-F shortstop Chad Johnson.
The shortstop's mom, Eileen Johnson, was a little shocked at the manner in which the team advanced to the state tournament.
"Our boys have played for 13 years, and this is the first time I have ever seen that happen," said Johnson, who is also the mother of D-G-F pitcher Shawn Johnson.
New York Mills decided not to play the championship game because head coach Tim Kupfer was not allowed to return to coach the finale after being ejected in an earlier elimination game with Stephen-Argyle.
"During the game, the New York Mills coach, Tim Kupfer, was ejected for questioning a play that had taken place, an interference call at second base," said tournament director Beau Lofgren.
Kupfer claims the call was made by the umpire after the ump was prompted by the Stephen-Argyle bench.
"I didn't even think I did enough to get booted," Kupfer said.
District 9 Director Roger Niebeling explained the situation in an email to the Focus after the game.
"It was my decision to disqualify NY Mills for unsportsmanlike conduct," Niebeling said.
Things got so hot at the field that the Clay County Sheriff's Department was called.
According to Kupfer, he was shooed from the dugout to a ways away from his team. Allegedly, one umpire accused him of texting Assistant Coach Eric Wallgren during the game after the ejection.
In a reaction posted on Twitter, Wallgren commented, "the cops being called to escort Tim off the premises for no reason was ridiculous."
In Legion baseball, if a player or coach is ejected, it's up to umpires whether or not they can be reinstated
Kupfer says after moving away from the dugout and taking a seat on the other side of the field he was approached by Tournament Director Bill Gottenberg, from Hawley, who asked if everything was alright and beckoned on if he needed the cops or not.
"Heavens no, I'm fine," Kupfer said. "I'm sitting here and want to see what happens with the game."
"The umpires both agreed based on the actions of the coach that he was done for the tournament, he was not going to be allowed to coach." Lofgren said. "In turn, the coach asked the kids whether or not they wanted to continue to play without their head coach, and the kids said 'no, we don't want to play,' so they packed up their things and left."
"I did everything (the umpires) told me to," said Kupfer. "I've never seen bags packed up so fast. I left it up to the kids."
"It was just a case of the umps trying to play the game," New York Mills pitcher Adam Snelgrove said. "Just like what happened in state."
During the high school state tournament, a controversial balk call in the quarterfinals allowed the only run to score in a 1-0 New York Mills loss to St. Agnes. The Eagles have had their share of run-ins with umpires.
While D-G-F advanced to the Legion state tournament without playing a championship game, no one can doubt that they earned their title.
"I told our guys we are district champions regardless," said D-G-F head coach Allen Krueger. "We were good all year long and good in this tournament. We would have just like to have won it the right way.
"We won two tight games against two good teams. Parkers Prairie was playing really good baseball when we finally met them in the second round and beat them 2-1 and we beat a good Stephen team that was peaking at the right time.
"I wished it wouldn't have ended that way," said Kupfer. "The kids played four great games with only nine guys."
D-G-F will play host team Sacred Heart in the opening round of the state tournament on Aug 3.
"The best team is going to state; I know that," Kupfer said.
"(The kids) are excited. They have been excited really since about the middle of the year when we started peaking and putting wins together," said Krueger.
New York Mills defeated Stephen-Argyle 6-3 to advance to the title game.
As a result of being disqualified, New York Mills forfeits their standings in the tournament and Stephen-Argyle is declared the runner-up, according to Niebeling.
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