Tigers knock off rust in playoff win over Chargers

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau Springfield’s Noah Neperman singles to right during a Section 2A Baseball Tournament playoff game against Minnesota Valley Lutheran on Tuesday at Riverside Park in Springfield.

SPRINGFIELD — Eighth-seeded Minnesota Valley Lutheran kept top-seeded Springfield on its toes early on Tuesday, but errors and timidity at the plate spelled trouble for the Chargers in the end as the Tigers ran away with an 11-4 win in the second round of the Section 2A Baseball Tournament at Riverside Park.

Springfield now hosts fifth-seeded Mankato Loyola on Thursday in a winner’s bracket game, while MVL falls to an elimination bracket game against fourth-seeded New Ulm Cathedral on Thursday.

Tigers right-handed ace pitcher Jakob Nachreiner pitched 6 2/3 innings in the win before leaving due to the pitch-count limit, allowing five hits and four walks for three earned runs while striking out nine.

“I’m happy about my teammates stepping up when I was kind of struggling on the mound, making plays behind me and putting runs up when we needed it,” Jakob Nachreiner said.

Of his nine strikeouts, five of them were called looking.

The Chargers had a nice start to the game at the plate with a leadoff walk by Connor Bode being followed with an RBI single into the left-center gap by Zach Riederer. Bradyn Kube, MVL’s starting pitcher on the day, added a single to right following the double, but back-to-back strikeouts and a pop out ended MVL’s quest for more runs. Riederer led MVL at the plate in the game, adding another double in the fifth to finish 2 for 4.

Josh Vander Plas also doubled in the fourth and was drove in on an RBI single by Seth Schmidt, which also ended up in a Springfield error that brought in another run to have the Chargers down 4-3. After that, however, the Chargers struck out looking twice in both the sixth and seventh innings.

“[Jakob’s] a very good pitcher and I was very proud of my guys early in the game with our approach at the plate,” MVL coach Jeff Schoenherr said. “We went up there swinging the bat because we knew he was going to be attacking he strike zone. Why all of the sudden at the end of the game we started taking so many pitches, I don’t understand.”

After Jakob Nachreiner was forced off in the seventh after a walk due to his pitch count, Aiden Moriarty entered to try to end things without any damage. Moriarty walked the first man he saw to load the bases and another walk issued to Brennan Bendix gave the Chargers a run, but a strikeout looking ended MVL’s brief rally.

Errors didn’t help MVL’s cause either as four errors led to six out of Kube’s 10 runs allowed being unearned in the loss. Kube pitched five innings and allowed eight hits and two walks while striking out two.

“You’re not going to beat a team like Springfield if you commit that many errors,” Schoenherr said. “I feel sorry for our pitcher. I felt that Bradyn pitched a real nice game for us. We needed to have a little bit better defensive support behind him.”

Jakob Nachreiner tripled to lead off the bottom of the first before Russell Beers’ groundout brought him in and tied the game at 1-all. The Tigers went up 4-1 in the second after two errors helped bring up a two-run single to right by Kade Nachreiner. The first Springfield run of the inning scored on an error.

After MVL cut the deficit to 4-3 in the top of the fourth, the Tigers got a leadoff single by Brecken Heiling and a bunt single by Brayden Sturm to lead off the bottom of the inning and bring Jakob Nachreiner to the plate. A Jakob Nachreiner grounder was thrown away from first, allowing two runs to scored. The groundout would have scored Heiling either way, but the added throwing error allowed Sturm to take home also. Another error moments later allowed Jakob Nachreiner to score to put Springfield up 7-3.

The Tigers got two hits to help score another three runs in the fifth, led by Jakob Nachreiner’s RBI single. Aiden Moriarty walked in the seventh before Noah Neperman doubled to right with one out to put Moriarty at third. A wild pitch by reliever Bode let the Tigers score their final run.

Heiling was 2 for 3 with two runs scored to lead Springfield, while Neperman was 2 for 4 and Jakob Nachreiner was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

“After getting that bye in the first round, it kind of knocked the rust off a little bit,” Jakob Nachreiner said. “We kind of struggled early and then got our groove going. If we can just avoid the early struggles, I think we’re going to be pretty good.”


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