New York Mills Babe Ruth 4th in State
One run can make all the difference in a game and even more in a tournament. A first round 1-0 loss to eventual state champions Browerville sent the New York Mills 13-15s Babe Ruth team on a long haul to the final four.
Eight wins would be needed to get through the loser's bracket to the title, including, due to inclement weather Saturday night, four possible games on a swampy Sunday.
NY Mills outhit Browerville 5-3.
"We just couldn't put the hits together," said Head Coach Tim Kupfer. "We did face a very good pitcher as well."
Browerville scored in the first inning. The remainder of the game would see a few threats to home plate but no runs.
"We had a couple scoring opportunities and just couldn't come up with the big hit," said Kupfer.
Their second round foe was a familiar team in Park Rapids, from District 2, who jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning. Mills would answer with a pair in the bottom half but remained behind 4-2 going into the fifth, where they exploded for seven runs on four consecutive hits from Brandon Kupfer, Tyler Patron, Daniel Kraft and Nick Bahls. The teams remained scoreless for the remainder concluding in a 9-4 NY Mills victory.
In the bottom quarter of the loser's bracket Ada-Borup eliminated Fosston 8-5 to move on and face NY Mills in the nightcap at M-State field.
NY Mills got up early and put the game away scoring thrice in the first and four times in the second leading to a 15-2 thumping. The game was shortened to five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. NY Mills scored in every inning but the third.
Austin Erickson and Brandon Kupfer had three RBI. CJ Mulcahy pitched a complete game allowing only two runs on four hits.
New York Mills staved off elimination again handing a 4-3-comeback defeat to Litchfield. The loss was only Litchfield's third of the season.
"We continue to fight," Head Coach Tim Kupfer said. "We battled back and kept pecking away."
Through four innings of play, NY Mills managed one hit against Litchfield starter Trent Kreckelberg. Meanwhile, Litchfield took advantage of three Mills fielding errors to put up a 3-0 lead.
But Austin Erickson would rear back and shut down Litchfield from the mound. He allowed two hits to the final 11 batters on way to a complete game win. Litchfield base runners never passed first base in the final three frames.
"Austin pitched an awesome game," Kupfer said.
Adam Patron led off the fifth with a walk and came around on a double by Max Carlson. Both teams generated offense from the bottom of the order and Carlson, in the nine spot, had a big game, going 1-2 with a RBI and two runs scored.
Carlson would come around on an RBI single by Erickson on a controversial play. Erickson hit a nubber up the first base line and met pitcher Kreckelberg midway up the first base line. Erickson ran through Kreckelberg reaching first base. A call for interference was denied. Erickson would round the bags and tie the game on an errant throw from third to first.
Kreckelberg would not recover and was pulled after facing Brandon Kupfer after 4 and 2/3 innings of work. He would not factor in the decision.
The game remained tied to the last inning, the seventh. In the top half, Erickson got two quick outs before a single from Litchfield lead off hitter Kaleb Kadelbach, who would remain stranded there when Dylan Koll lined a hard shot snagged by Nick Kupfer at second.
Carlson would prove a hero again reaching first with a lead off walk. He would be lifted for pinch runner, Tyler Ehnert. Coach Kupfer called for the sacrifice from Taylor Ericksrud, who laid a bunt down that was bobbled by relief pitcher Zach Kinny. With runners on first and second base, Kupfer again called for the sacrifice, this time, from Erickson. He popped a bunt up midway between the mound and home plate. Kinny dove but was unable to make the grab and the bases were loaded for Brandon Kupfer.
Kupfer battled Kinny to two strikes and checked his swing on a possible strike three judgment call from the umpire. Both the home plate umpire and field umpire ruled Kupfer did not go around. With new life, he launched a single over the heads of a drawn in outfield for the walk-off game winner scoring Ehnert from third.
"I, personally, felt we beat the toughest team there, which was Litchfield," said Kupfer.
Saturday night's game got off to a stormy start with NY Mills falling behind Pearl Lake 7-1 after two innings. Mills rallied for four runs in the third to cut the lead to 7-5, but Pearl Lake would answer with a trio of their own in the bottom half for a 10-5 lead.
"The Pearl Lake game we got off on the wrong foot right away," said Kupfer. "I thought Brandon was throwing well but didn't get a few ball and strike calls and before you know it we are down 6-0."
Words were exchanged between coaches and the home plate umpire about balls and strikes, as well as, demonstrative non-verbal communiqué from pitcher Brandon Kupfer on the mound and catcher Mulcahy.
Both sides went down in order for the next inning and one half before play was postponed due to severe weather in the Fergus Falls area.
Tornadic activity and heavy rainfall flooded American Legion Field at DeLagoon Park and the games were moved to M-State field on campus in Fergus Falls.
The change of venue did little to halt the onslaught of the Pearl Lake bats.
Play resumed in the bottom of the fifth seeing NY Mills retired in order. They would threaten in the sixth and score twice in the seventh but three Pearl Lake sixth inning runs had put the game out of reach. NY Mills, who had come back from larger deficits more than once during the season, saw their season end one comeback short in a 13-7 defeat.
Daniel Kraft and Brandon Kupfer had three RBI in the finale. Taylor Ericksrud and Austin Erickson both scored twice.
NY Mills record for the tournament was 3-2 leading to a fourth place finish. Pearl Lake advanced in the semi-finals with a victory over Melrose 5-1 but met their fate at the hands of eventual champs Browerville 10-4. See the final bracket at http://www.minnesotababeruth.com.
NY Mills ends the season with an impressive 31-3 overall record.
"Overall we had great season. I can't say enough about this group of kids. I have been fortunate to coach them since fourth grade. Just to be able to watch their improvement year after year has been very rewarding. As everyone there watched us this year could tell, they never gave up. I am very proud of them. I think when you look at the 13-year-olds' third place state finish and the 14-15-year-olds' fourth place in state, we have some great baseball to look forward to in Mills for years to come."