Region 2C amateur playoffs begin on Saturday

NEW ULM — Six teams play five games in seven days.

The top three go to the Class C State Tournament in New Prague, Shakopee and Jordan.

The other three pack away their uniforms for the year.

It is called the 2018 Region 2C Amateur Baseball Single Round Robin Tournament.

The tournament begins this Saturday when the fourth-seeded Springfield Tigers travel to third-seeded Lamberton for a 2 p.m meeting, sixth-seeded Sleepy Eye heads to top-seeded Stark for a 7:30 p.m. meeting and the fifth-seeded New Ulm Brewers head to second-seeded Hanska for an 8 p.m. game.

Play continues Sunday when Stark plays at New Ulm for a 2 p.m. game, Hanska plays at Springfield at 7:30 p.m. and Lamberton heads to Sleepy Eye for a 7:30 p.m. game.

Play then continues through Saturday, August 11 with Sunday, August 12 reserved for possible playoff/ tie-breaker games.

And the round robin tournament, where each team plays each other once, carries more of an intensity to it than the Tomahawk East League two-out-of-three playoffs last week.

“This is five games so you have to play it differently,” Hanska manager Chris Koob said. Hanska has defeated the Brewers twice in the regular season by scores of 4-3 and 5-0. “You cannot use all of your pitchers in one game — you have to spread out your pitching a little more. But it is more intense. And we have not played that many games in eight days. You are going to have to use guys on shorter rest.”

And Koob thinks that this year’s tournament will be one that may very well come down to the final game to see what teams are advancing to the state.

“I think it will and I would assume that there will have to be tie-breakers being played out,” he said. “I think that all six teams have a good shot of making it and I think there is a reason for any of the six teams to be in it and be one of the top three going to the state.”

New Ulm Brewers manager Al Flor said that in round robin tournaments a team wants to set a tone in the first game.

“But you also need to play to your strengths against certain teams,” he said. “There are a lot of games in a short amount of days. There are a lot of variables to the whole situation.”

Flor agrees that the tournament does put a lot of strain on a pitching staff.

“We are going to go on a normal days rest and we do have enough pitching,” he said “And we feel like that is one of our strengths. We do have depth.”

Flor also feels that his team has been hitting the ball very well lately.

One of the players that has hit well has been catcher Hunter Ranweiler who has played for New Ulm High School, Legion Gold and now the Brewers this year.

“He has really helped us down the stretch,” Flor said. “We do have another catcher in Grant Kannegiesser who is also good. Hunter is going to Minnesota State-Mankato to catch next year.”

Flor said that now the string is a lot shorter for pitchers.

“You cannot afford to go down four or five runs in a game. You need to make a change quicker than you normally would and you need to have a plan in place in as far as how many pitchers you are willing to use in that game.”

Last year the Stark Longhorns came in as the No. 2 seed and won their first two games but did not qualify for the state tournament.

“The only way you are guaranteed a state trip is to win all five games,” Stark manager Brian Mathiowetz said. “I do not know if there is a different mindset in a round robin tournament. Everything is sped up a little. We watch our pitching a little bit with five games in seven days. You need to manage your pitching.”

Mathiowetz said that his team was disappointed last year in the 2C tournament.

“We lost out in the last game in the playoffs. But this is a new year. Every team is a little bit different. So we take every game as it comes.”

Like Lamberton, Hanska and Springfield, all four top teams enter the round robin with a 17-5 record and sweeps in the Tomahawk East League playoffs last week.

DRAFTEES: Each team could draft two players from teams that were eliminated last week. Here are the draftees.

STARK: Chase Meyer (Courtland), Nolan Huiras (Gibbon). HANSKA: Avery Stevens (Essig), Nick Dewanz (Searles). LAMBERTON: Jon DeRock (Gibbon) Sam Carlson (St. James). SPRINGFIELD: Andy Cook (Leavenworth), Dylan Hillesheim (Leavenworth). NEW ULM BREWERS: Jordan Guggisberg (Essig), Collin Ristig (Searles). SLEEPY EYE: Jevan Richert (Leavenworth), Jay Helget (Essig).