BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - With the stakes higher than ever in an elimination game, one bad inning was all it took for New Ulm Legion Gold to meet its demise.
Four earned runs on five hits in the top of the fifth inning gave St. Cloud Chutes the lead, the momentum and the eventual 7-1 victory against Gold in the consolation round of the Division I state legion baseball tournament on Saturday at Red Haddox Field in Bloomington.
"It was definitely not our best baseball," said Gold coach Jeremy Drexler. "We had the one bad inning and that was the back-breaker for us. We just didn't hit the ball enough to win and they got the clutch hits when they needed to and we didn't."
Grant Kannegiesser drove in Gabe Knowles with a single in the first inning to give Gold (26-9) the first lead of the game.
Offensive output was stagnant for Gold from there on out against Dominic Austing, who got the win with eight strikeouts in eight innings of work.
"[Austing] had good rhythm on us," said Judd Davis. "He was a pretty good pitcher; he mixed it up pretty well."
The game progressed steadily until the top of the fifth, when Collin Helget gave up those four earned runs. Brian Minks notched the first of his game-high three RBIs and Jeff Fasching hit an RBI triple with one RBI each from Brindley Thiesen and Jack Schramel in that inning.
"Momentum is a big thing," Drexler said. "It was 1-0, but you knew they were probably going to score at some point. We ran ourselves out of one inning."
With that momentum, the Chutes scored two runs in the sixth off Helget as well as one in the eighth off Knowles, who pitched three innings in relief.
"It'd be a totally different game," Davis said when asked if Gold had not given up four in the fifth. "But we even came back well after that. Things just didn't go our way."
Helget got the loss, having given up six earned runs on 12 hits in six innings pitched.
Knowles led the team at the plate, having gone 2-for-3 with one run scored.
Gold finishes its season 26-9.
"We've had a good run," Drexler said. "We just ran into a couple really good teams up here and we just didn't play well enough to win."
S.C. Chutes 000 042 010 - 7 16 2
N.U. Gold 100 000 000 - 1 5 0
Austing, Neutzling (9) and Imholte; Helget, Knowles (7) and Kannegiesser.
W - Austing (C) 8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 116 P
L - Helget (G) 6 IP, 12 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 81 P
Leading hitters - S.C. Chutes: Minks 3-5 3 RBI 1 R, Fasching 3-4 1 RBI 1 R 1 BB 3B, Theisen 2-5 1 RBI, Schramel 2-3 1 RBI 1 BB 1 HP, Auger 1-4 1 R 2B, Gross 2-5 2 R, Imholte 2-5 1 RBI 1 R; N.U. Gold: Knowles 2-3 1 R 1 HP, Kannegiesser 1-4 1 RBI 1 K.