NEW ULM - Gabe Knowles picked a great way to celebrate his 16th birthday Thursday night.
Knowles went 4-for-4 including a double and solo home run and then coaxed a game-ending double play in relief of starter Bailey Batt as New Ulm VFW Gold ran by the Tonka Mudhens 8-6 in the Junior Upper Midwest Classic.
Batt got the win for New Ulm, going 61/3 innings and allowing six runs.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm VFW Gold’s Gabe Knowles is congratulated by teammate Alex Stark (9) after hitting a home run against Tonka Mudhens during the Junior Upper Midwest Classic Thursday at Johnson Park in New Ulm.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Ryan Masui took the loss for Tonka. He was charged with eight runs.
Bailey Melz led the Hens with three hits.
Knowles' four-hit performance was aided by three hits from Collin Helget and two from Jack Schwartz. Jarin Spence drove in two runs.
The win was even better considering that New Ulm spotted the Mudhens a three run lead in the top of the first inning.
"They scored those runs in the first but we came back right back at them," Gold coach Derek Wilfahrt said. "We stayed up and we got back in the game on defense. It was a fun game."
Tonka grabbed that three run lead off of Batt in the first on a three run triple from Josh Falk.
But Gold came back with five runs in the bottom of the inning and never looked back.
"Our bats were just on," said Knowles, who started the inning with a double to center field. "We had been in a slump but we came on tonight."
Knowles' two-bagger was followed by singles from Alex Stark, Spence and Helget before a one-out single off of the bat of Jack Schwartz tied the game. A fielder's choice and an error on the play added two more runs.
Knowles again started the scoring in the bottom of the second inning when the left-handed hitter lined a 1-1 Masui offering over the fence in right field.
"That was my first home run this season," he said.
Meanwhile, the right-handed Batt settled down after his shaky start allowing just one run and four hits through the next five innings.
Gold added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings on a Connor Forbrook bloop double in the fifth and a Helget base hit in the sixth.
Batt was also aided by two great defensive plays in the game, one by right fielder Brandon Beranek who threw out Adam Reiskytel at home when he tried to score on a Melz' base hit in the fourth inning. Forbrook made a diving catch to end the Tonka inning in the fifth.
Tonka threatened in the top of the seventh on two singles and two walks, but Knowles got Shane Reider to ground into a game-ending 6-4-3 double play.
"This is a nice win for us," Knowles said. "Especially the first game of the tournament."