FAIRMONT - Kevin Larson and Jason Shaul guided New Ulm Gold's 19-hit attack as the team pummeled Worthington 17-4 in a District 2 American Legion Baseball Tournament elimination game on Saturday.
Larson led New Ulm's offensive outburst by finishing 5-for-5 with five runs scored, while Shaul finished 4-for-5 with four RBI.
"I was feeling good today," Larson said. "I've been struggling so far in Districts, but you've just got to keep your head up and stay confident and know that you can hit the ball."
Staff photo by Daniel Kerwin
New Ulm Legion Gold shortstop Kevin Larson snares a pop-up during Gold’s 17-4 win against Worthington in the District 2 American Legion Baseball Tournament on Friday in Fairmont.
With the victory, Gold advanced to play Fairmont later in the day for the right to enter today's championship game. Gold ended up defeating Fairmont 10-0 in seven innings and will now meet Sleepy Eye today at 1 p.m.
Having come through the elimination bracket, New Ulm will have to defeat Sleepy Eye twice to take the title.
New Ulm began its scoring against Worthington with two runs in the top of the first inning.
Worthington almost escaped the inning unscathed when Larson was caught in a rundown between second and third base with two outs, but after a long chase Larson ended up sliding safely back to second. Dan Blackstad had a two-run single later in the inning.
After Worthington tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the first, Gold staged a two-out rally in the top of the second to take a 4-2 lead.
Jordan Guggisberg came in to score the inning's first run on a throwing error as Worthington catcher Blake Rogers threw wild while trying to catch Larson stealing second base. Larson scored on an RBI single by Shaul, during which Shaul dived head-first into first base to narrowly beat the throw.
Gold broke open the game with five runs in the third inning and added five more runs in the sixth to take a 14-3 lead.
"[Our goal] was just keep getting more runs, never be satisfied," Larson said. "They're a good team, too, they can score runs just like we can, so we just had to keep the pressure on them."
A three-run seventh inning gave New Ulm enough of a lead to end the game after seven innings due to the 10-run rule.
Larson (two stolen bases, one RBI) reached base in all six of his at bats, providing a spark for New Ulm at the top of the lineup. The only time he didn't come around to score was after a two-out triple in the fourth inning.
Shaul (two-run double in sixth) and Zach Hoffmann (2-for-3, four RBI, three runs, two walks) failed to reach base only one time each. Guggisberg finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored, Blackstad was 2-for-4 with three RBI and Erich Prokosch was 1-for-3 with a double, one RBI and three runs scored.
Blackstad earned the win on the mound, allowing only three hits and three runs (one earned) in five innings of work. He walked five and struck out two.
Tim Kehren allowed one run, one hit, walked three and struck out two in a two-inning stint in relief of Blackstad.
"We've had good pitching all Districts, really," Larson said. "Our bats just had to wake up today, and they did."
Jon Reller took the loss for Worthington, allowing 10 hits and nine runs (three earned) in 2 2/3 innings. Rogers led Worthington at the plate by going 2-for-3 with one RBI.