Area baseball: Cougars still alive in section tournamentZumbrota-Mazeppa rallied from a six-run deficit Saturday to beat Caledonia/Spring Grove 9-6 and remain alive in the Section 1AA tournament losers' bracket.
By: R-E Sports Staff, The Republican Eagle
Zumbrota-Mazeppa rallied from a six-run deficit Saturday to beat Caledonia/Spring Grove 9-6 and remain alive in the Section 1AA tournament losers' bracket.
The Cougars will return to Austin, Minn., on Tuesday to play Byron, which beat Z-M 2-0 in the first game Saturday at Riverland Community College - Austin. The rematch between the two schools is slated for 5 p.m.
Z-M trailed 6-0 after three innings in the elimination game against Caledonia/Spring Grove. The Cougars scored three runs and then loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fourth, but they failed to score any additional runs and Z-M coach Chuck Ohm said he thought at that point it just wasn't his team's day.
Instead, Z-M scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take control of the game.
"This team kind of responds," Ohm said. "They say to themselves, 'This is enough. Let's get rolling here.'"
Z-M tallied 14 hits in the game. Ryan Paukert had three of them. Decker Starr, Josh Shirley, Erik Krueger and Zach VanOstrand added two apiece. Starr drove in three runs and Shirley added a pair.
All the offense overcame a four-run top of the third in which the Cougars made two errors and were victimized by a bad hop.
Shirley started, but Paukert got the win by pitching 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. He only surrendered one hit.
The clutch hits were missing against Byron. Kyle Krings limited Z-M to three hits in the Section 1AA West title game, but the Cougars had their chances.
They had the bases loaded in the fourth with one out, but an infield pop up and a strikeout ended the threat. In the fifth, Z-M had runners on second and third with one out. Two ground balls ended the inning without plating a runner.
Bryan Hinrichs "pitched a great game," according to Ohm, but in the top of the seventh he issued a walk and then gave up singles to Byron's eight- and nine-hitter to load the bases with one out. Paukert struck out the first batter he faced in relief and had a 2-2 count on Jordan Bale when the junior singled up the middle to drive in a pair.
"We were one pitch from getting out of there," Ohm said.