Stark defeats Brewers

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello Zach Moore of the New Ulm Brewers slides safely back to second base as Stark shortstop Brandon Helget catches the ball during an amateur baseball playoff game Sunday at Johnson Park in New Ulm.

NEW ULM — It was not that the New Ulm Brewers had trouble getting runners on base Sunday afternoon in their Region 2C tournament game against Stark at Johnson Park.

Their problem was finding a way to get them in.

New Ulm stranded 12 runners on base Sunday — eight of them in scoring position — and fell to Stark 5-3.

Jon Kopacek got the win for the Longhorns. He went 5 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits. Chase Meyer, a draftee from Courtland, allowed one run on three hits while fanning five to close out the game as Stark improved to 1-1 in the round robin playoff.

Mitch Kelly took the loss for the Brewers who dropped to 0-2 in the round robin playoff. He was charged with five runs in his six innings of work.

He allowed eight hits and struck out five.

Brandon Helget, Joey Wahl and Nick Labat each had two hits for Stark with Labat driving in two runs.

Zach More had two of the Brewers eight hits.

Stark now hosts Springfeld at 8 p.m. Tuesday while the Brewers head to Lamberton Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. game.

“This was a big win for us — we needed it,” Stark manager Brian Mathiowetz said. “Jon (Kopacek) did a nice job for us. He did not have his normal command but he gave us enough innings, and it was a heck of a job by Chase Meyer to come in and shut the door on them.”

For the Brewers and manager Al Flor, it was a game of missed opportunities. “We are not firing on all cylinders right now,” he said. “We cannot get a key hit and we are leaving all of these runners on base.”

Maybe it was an omen for the Brewers early when they had threats in the first and second innings but failed to score as they stranded two runners on base in each of those first two innings.

Meanwhile Stark got on the board for a run in the third inning when Jake Mangen reached on an infield single and raced to second on an ensuing throwing error. A passed ball and a Helget double gave the Longhorns a lead they would never lose but would increase.

Stark added three more runs in the fourth on RBI singles from Labat, Nathan Kral and Tim Seifert.

New Ulm finally got to Kopacek in the fourth for two runs but it could have been more. A Zach More RBI double and a J.T. Hoffmann single had New Ulm to within 4-2. The Brewers managed to load the bases later in the inning but Kopacek worked out of any more trouble.

“That was a key to the game — he kept battling,” Mathiowetz said. “He kept us in the game.”

Stark plated a run in the sixth on a Labat double while the Brewers scored their final run of the game in the ninth on a walk to Hoffmann, a double from Hunter Ranweiler and an Eric Austvold groundout.

Flor knows that at 0-2, Tuesday’s game at Lamberton means only one thing.

“We have to win,” he said.