SLEEPY EYE - Marc Riederer spent his first Monday as a high school graduate in a memorable fashion.
After striking out swinging in an eight-pitch at-bat against Nicollet's Matt Christenson in the bottom of the third, Riederer was walked in the fifth and sixth before hitting the walk-off RBI single to left-center field that secured the 7-6 eight-inning victory for Sleepy Eye in a nonconference baseball game on Monday.
"He's put the ball in play for us all year, so I knew with the infield in that if got a good look at it, he'd put the bat on it," said Sleepy Eye coach Aaron Nesvold.
The Indians (5-12, 3-12 Tomahawk) overcame a 4-0 deficit and notched three hits off Colin Bloemke in the bottom of the eighth for the extra-inning victory.
Christenson, who got the no-decision after five innings on the mound, had a perfect game going for 3 2/3 innings until Sam Hirschboeck chopped his 55th pitch into shallow-right in the bottom of the fourth.
"Matt's a pretty good pitcher and he brought his game for those first three innings," Nesvold said. "He's their best; I knew we were going to see him today."
Christenson tallied seven of his nine strikeouts for the Raiders (8-5, 7-4 Valley) before allowing a batter to reach base.
Following Christenson's ninth strikeout for the second out of the fourth inning, Kolten Nienhaus reached on an error by the third baseman before a single by Sam Tessmer and a walk of Riederer loaded the bases. Senior Brandon Polesky broke the ice with an RBI single to shallow-left that scored Nienhaus and cut the Raiders' lead to 4-1.
Momentum shifted almost completely in the next at-bat, when Matt Berkner belted a shot to the right-center wall, clearing the bases for a three-run triple that tied the game at 4-4.
"It's big to get us back into the game and tie it up, but it's even bigger for him - he's been battling a hamstring injury for two, three weeks now," Nesvold said of Berkner. "So to get him back to hitting the ball that hard again and then being able to leg out a triple on not a 100-percent hamstring is real big for us."
Even though the error on the third baseman during Nienhaus' at-bat was key, Nicollet coach Jeff Zimmerman was unwilling to blame the shift in momentum on that alone.
"It could have been worse," Zimmerman said. "They could have scored more than those four runs. But it was one of those cases where they took advantage. The error hurt, but they took advantage."
The Indians broke the tie in a controversial manner in the fifth inning, when pitcher Gavin Nourie was called for two consecutive balks during Austin Fischer's at-bat and a third balk during Nienhaus' that walked in Dylan Klein, who reached on a first-pitch bunt single, to break the tie.
"The first one I agreed with, the second one I definitely would not," Zimmerman said of the calls. "But that's why I do what I do and I'm not the umpire. He saw it differently than I did and that's the way it goes."
Tessmer later drove in Nienhaus to increase the Indians' lead to 6-4 after six completed innings.
Jay Hendrycks tied the game at 6-6 in the top of the seventh with a two-out, two-run double that scored Nourie and Bloemke, both of whom were hit by a pitch in between a caught-looking strikeout of Christenson. Hendrycks finished the day 3-for-3 with three RBIs.
Two-straight walks issued by Tessmer loaded the bases in the top of the eighth, which cued a change on the mound with his pitch count having reached 100. Nienhaus needed only one pitch to get Bloemke to fly out to right field, ending that half of the inning and overtaking Tessmer as the pitcher of record.
Bloemke then gave up hits to Fischer and Tessmer before allowing Riederer's walk-off single.
Nicollet hosts Martin Luther/GHEC/Truman at 6 p.m. on Tuesday to conclude its regular season. It will host No. 5-seed Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at 1 p.m. on Saturday as the No. 4 seed in the opening round of the Section 2A, North Subsection playoffs.
Sleepy Eye will play in the pigtail game of the North Subsection, where it will host No. 9 Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Nicollet 100 030 20 - 6 6 1
Sleepy Eye 000 042 01 - 7 10 3
Christenson, Nourie (6), Bloemke (7) and Nourie, Bloemke (6), Nourie (7); Klein, Tessmer (3), Nienhaus (8) and Bruggeman.
W - Nienhaus (S) 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
L - Bloemke (N) 1 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
ND - Klein (S) 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
ND - Christenson (N) 5 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
Leading hitters - Nicollet: Christenson 2-4 1 R 2 K 2B, Hendrycks 3-3 3 RBI 1 BB 2B, Barrer 1-4; Sleepy Eye: Polesky 1-4 1 RBI 1 R 1 K, Berkner 1-4 3 RBI 2 K 3B, Tessmer 3-4 1 RBI, Riederer 1-2 1 RBI 2 BB 1 K.