Stark earns No. 2 seed in Region 2C playoffs
STARK — With both the Stark Longhorns and the Sleepy Eye Indians having secured berths in next weekend’s Minnesota State Amateur Class C Tournament, Saturday’s meeting between the two teams was for seedings and pride.
And some heroics.
Nate Kral’s lead-off home run off of Sleepy Eye’s Jake Mielke in the bottom of the 10th inning broke a 3-3 tie and lifted Stark to a 4-3 win at Stark.
The win earns the Longhorns the No. 2 seed in Region 2C behind the New Ulm Brewers. Sleepy Eye will go into the state tournament as the No. 3 seed.
Both Stark and Sleepy Eye will play next weekend in Maple Lake or Delano. The Brewers will receive a bye for the first weekend.
Kral’s walk-off solo shot gave Josh Kopacek — the ninth pitcher used by the Longhorns — the win.
Adam Sellner, Alex Guggisberg, Sean Mathiowetz, Brandon Helget, Zach Haala, Nate Kral, Nick Labat, Joey Wahl and Kopacek all saw mound action for Stark.
Jacob Berg went the first four innings for Sleepy Eye. He was followed by Matt Helget, Dylan Klein and Jake Mielke.
Klein led Sleepy Eye with three hits.
Helget and Kral each had two hits for Stark.
Sleepy Eye took a 2-0 lead in the third when Klein doubled and took third on a wild pitch. Derek Nachreiner drew a one-out walk. An Alex Woitas single scored Klein. Both Nachreiner and Woitas moved up on a double steal before Mark Riederer’s base hit scored Nachreiner.
Stark cut the lead in half in the sixth with a run when Helget singled and stole second. A Jon Kopacek groundout moved him to third. A Mason Cox groundout scored Helget.
The Longhorns tied the game at 2-2 in the seventh. Josh Kopacek walked. Singles from Zach Haala and Mathiowetz and an error tied the game.
Both teams scored a run in the ninth. Klein’s double accounted for the Indians’ run with Stark tying the game in the bottom of the inning on a Helget double and a Jon Kopacek single.
After the game, the three teams going to the state tournament drafted an additional player. New Ulm selected Lamberton pitcher Johnny Pistulka, Stark drafted Nick Altermatt from Lamberton, and Sleepy Eye selected Jevan Richert from Leavenworth.