NEW ULM - Thanks to a spectacular play at the plate for the final out of the game, the New Ulm VFW Silver baseball team kicked off its Saturday slate at the Junior Upper Midwest Classic with a thrilling 8-7 victory against Rochester.
Silver ran into a tough Wayzata squad in the afternoon to end its tournament campaign with an 18-2 loss, but even a lop-sided loss wasn't enough to dampen the effect of the team's earlier win.
"It's always awesome to get a win in your home tournament," Tietel said. "You want to be on Sunday, but we realize that we're just coming here to improve every game that we play, and we were lucky enough to get a win at home. A lot of these kids, this is the first time they've played at Johnson Park, and now they can remember they've also got a win at Johnson Park, so it's good for them."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm catcher Nick Vogel tags out Rochester’s Brandon Knapp during VFW Silver’s win in the Junior Upper Midwest Classic Saturday at Johnson Park in New Ulm.
Against Rochester, New Ulm jumped out to an early lead and withstood a spirited comeback to earn its first win of the tournament.
"We came out and hit the ball well," Tietel said. "We threw eight runs up in the first four innings. We came out just ripping it, and it was fun."
Rochester almost came all the way back to tie the game, but Silver center fielder Spencer Stark cut down the potential tying run at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, ending the game in dramatic fashion.
"We had a nice play at home, the kid had a base hit and Stark came up and threw a strike home and we threw the kid out," Tietel said. "That would have tied the game up, but actually ended it, so it was awesome."
In its second game of the day, Silver knew it was in line for a strict test against a Wayzata team that had won all three of its previous games by at least nine runs on each occasion, including a 21-0 win against Rochester.
New Ulm hung tight for the first two innings, but Wayzata exploded for 14 runs in the third to put the game away.
Silver scored the first run of the game in the top of the first when courtesy runner Ryan Busch scored when Brandon Beranek reached on an error. Wayzata answered with three runs in the bottom of the frame, but New Ulm starter Alex Guggisberg then pitched a 1-2-3 second inning.
The offensive highlights of Wayzata's 14-run third inning were a three-run triple by Christian Linhardt and a three-run home run to left field by Matt Beck.
Wayzata was led on offense in the game by Linhardt (2-for-3, three runs, four RBI), Connor Trygstad (3-for-3, three runs, three RBI, three doubles) and Mickey Leius (2-for-3, three runs, RBI, two doubles).
Matt Rowley and Jesse Kuck pitched in relief of Guggisberg in the game.
Stark recorded Silver's only hit of the game against Wayzata starter Joe Silbaugh (four innings pitched, five walks, six strikeouts), a lead-off single in the top of the first inning.
Wayzata (4-0 in tournament play) finished pool play with the No. 1 seed in Pool B, earning the team a match-up against Delano today in the semifinals. The game will be played at 12 p.m. at Johnson Park.
New Ulm Gold (4-0) will face Hutchinson (3-1) in the other semifinal at 9 a.m. at Johnson Park.
Although New Ulm Silver finished just 1-3 in the tournament, Tietel was pleased with the progress he players showed.
"I'm really excited, because we're progressing," Tietel said. "We turning into a lot better ball club and I'm happy that we're learning. We're still trying to keep the game fun, and I think we're doing that."