BURNSVILLE - Despite being shut out for the first five innings of the American Legion State Baseball Tournament opener against Chaska, the New Ulm Gold hitters weren't worried at all.
In fact, they were just getting ready to take over.
Gold erased that 3-0 deficit after five innings, scoring six times in the top of sixth. Gold held on, shrugging off a bases-loaded charge by Chaska in the bottom of the ninth to win 6-4 at Alimagnet Field.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Legion Gold's Gabe Knowles is congratulated by Tyler Dittrich and other teammates after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning of New Ulm's State Tournament game against Hutchinson on Friday in Burnsville.
In the second game, Gold had a five-run first inning only to see Hutchinson slowly eat away at it and tie it. Hutchinson eventually grabbed the lead and won 10-6 to send Gold to the loser's bracket.
Gold defeated Chaska and its pitcher Riley Sweeney earlier in the season at the Upper Midwest Classic, so it had an offensive attack already in place well before the first pitch.
It took five innings of frustration - Gold left runners in scoring position in three of the first five innings - before an avalanche of runs ended Sweeney's day.
"Offensively we just had to be aggressive," Gold catcher Grant Kannegiesser said. "We've seen this guy before, he keeps the ball down and he's a good pitcher. We had to jump on that first fastball and get on first base."
In the sixth, Collin Helget led off with a walk and Kannegiesser doubled. Tanner Kluis and Jake Gieseke followed with RBI singles to make it 3-2. Later, Kluis, Gieseke, Wyatt Peterson and Brach Kraus all scored to give Gold a 6-3 lead. Peterson and Kraus scored on consecutive pitches - one on a wild pitch and one on a passed ball - to put momentum in Gold's favor.
"We had runners on base [before the sixth], but we got a leadoff walk and it just escalated from there," Kannegiesser said. "It was a real big inning for us."
Chase Meyer, who gave up a run in the first and two more in the third, was in lockdown mode after that. He earned the win, going 8 1/3 innings before Tyler Dittrich earned the save. Meyer allowed four runs, five hits and struck out seven.
"Early on he was struggling with location, especially with his offspeed," Kannegiesser said. "He settled in well and got a lot of outs."
In the second game, Gold jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the first. Gabe Knowles hit a two-run home run and Kluis drove in one run on a double. Peterson added a two-run single for the 5-0 cushion.
Hutchinson slowly chipped away, scoring two runs in the second and one in the third.
Hutchinson tied the game at 5-5 in the fifth, collecting four-straight two-out hits to score two runs.
Hutchinson loaded the bases on Nick Dewanz in the sixth and Mitchell Kurth delivered a two-run single to put Hutchinson up 7-5.
Gold added a run in the eighth when Judd Davis reached on an error, scoring Peterson. Hutchinson scored three times in the bottom of the eighth to take the 10-6 lead.
Kluis pitched the first three innings and gave up three runs. DeWanz took the loss. He pitched four innings and allowed four runs.
Gold will play at 1 p.m. on Saturday against the St. Cloud Chutes in Bloomington.