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Brandon Kupfer pitched a complete game for the victory over Floodwood in the state class A quarterfinals Thursday. File Photo

New York Mills advances to Class A semis with come-from-behind win

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JORDAN, Minn. – Perhaps it’s a lesson that will serve Floodwood well in the future. But on Thursday night, it was just a gut-wrenching defeat.

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By Rick Weegman / Forum News Service

New York Mills scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning and pinch-runner Tyler Ehnert beat an infield throw to home to score the winning run as the Eagles beat Floodwood 6-5 in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class 1A state baseball tournament at the Mini-Met.

“It was definitely a tough loss, one we’d like to have back,” Floodwood sophomore Riley Bernsdorf said. “If we could have made a few more plays, we could have had this one. We definitely let it slip.”

Bernsdorf was on the mound in relief of his older brother, Tyler, when New York Mills’ Daniel Kraft hit a ball to Trevor Bernsdorf at shortstop. The senior’s off-balance throw was unable to beat Ehnert’s slide home.

“It was an in-between hop – not an easy play at all – and he knew he had to rush it because there was a fast guy on third,” Floodwood coach Adam Johnson said. “If he had set his feet, the guy would have been safe by a mile. Nine times out of 10, he’s going to make that play.”

Second-seeded New York Mills (20-2) advances to today’s semifinals against Osakis, a 10-0 winner over Blackduck, while Floodwood (17-3) travels up the freeway to Chaska Athletic Park to meet Blackduck in a consolation game at 12:30 p.m.

“We don’t want New York Mills to beat us twice, so we have to make sure we bounce back against Blackduck and play a good game,” Johnson said about maintaining a positive attitude. “I know they want to play two (today), that’s our goal.”

The Polar Bears played well from the beginning, scoring three runs in the opening inning. Justin Hall and both Bernsdorfs reached base and scored, though Floodwood failed to blow open the game by leaving the bases loaded. The Eagles responded with two runs in the bottom of the first on Tyler Patron’s two-out home run.

Each team added single runs in the second and fifth innings, though the Polar Bears again failed to add to their lead when Trevor Bernsdorf was thrown out on a close play at home trying to score on Kyle Tamminen’s fly ball to right field.

A scoreless sixth and top of the seventh left Floodwood three outs shy of winning its state tournament debut, but Nick Kupfer changed the momentum when he stretched a one-out double to left field for three bases.

“He made a gutsy running call, going to third, and it paid off huge,” Eagles coach Chris Bushinger said. “He’s extremely fast and has great instincts on the bases – that was all him.”

Kupfer scored on Brandon Kupfer’s single to tie the game and Tyler Patron walked to end Trevor Bernsdorf’s night pitching.

“It was a hot day and maybe we got to the point where Trevor ran out of gas and I could have gone with Riley earlier,” Johnson said. “But with Riley catching, it put us in a tough spot of who was going to have enough energy. The mistakes today came back to bite us … but all in all I thought we represented ourselves well in our first time down here.”

Adam Patron stroked a single on a 0-2 count and then Kraft drove a 1-2 offering to short for the winning RBI.

“It was a bang-bang play,” Bushinger said. “I had the opportunity to talk to (Ehnert) pitch-by-pitch (at third base) and, thankfully, it worked out.”

Nobody felt worse for his brother than Riley Bernsdorf, but the four-year starter emphasized his team still has a lot to play for.

“We’re going to let this one go and, hopefully, win the consolation championship,” he said.

F 310 010 0–5 6 3

NYM 210 010 2–6 9 1

T. Bernsdorf, R. Bernsdorf (7) and R. Bernsdorf, Heggedahl. Kupfer and A. Patron. W–Kupfer. L–T. Bernsdorf.

Weegman writes for the Duluth News Tribune

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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