Amateur Baseball: Duluth outlast Aces in Super Section openerRed Wing mustered a little magic at the end but couldn’t sustain it in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Duluth to open the Super Sectional tournament at Red Wing Athletic Field.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing mustered a little magic at the end but couldn’t sustain it in a 3-2, 10-inning loss to Duluth to open the Super Sectional tournament at Red Wing Athletic Field.
The Aces (23-18) struggled to find hits throughout the game and had just three entering the top of the ninth inning when they finally put together a rally. Red Wing trailed 2-1 heading into the final inning but scratched across the tying run when center fielder Chris Guetzlaff got hit by a pitch with bases loaded to score Josh Thygesen.
But the Xpress (30-2) responded in the bottom of the tenth inning after the Aces went down in order in the top half. Kyle Flagstad scored the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly from Jon Kusch. Flagstad and Brian Houdek drew walks off reliever Brady Schroeder and advanced to second and third after a sacrifice bunt from Neal Walsh. With one out and first base open Kusch flew out to right on a 2-2 count to end the game.
Flagstad finished 2-for-2 with two runs while Houdek went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run and Walsh went 1-for-4 with an RBI. Duluth had eight hits in the game.
“The whole point of this tournament is to win two before you lose two,” Red Wing player-manager Andy Gibart said. “They’re a good ball club. We’re not down by any means. We can come back (today) and win two games.”
The Aces will need to win two games in order to secure a trip to the state tournament for the first time since 2006. Red Wing will face Eagan today at the Ath at 1 p.m.
The Aces couldn’t solve Duluth starter Jake Snyder through the first eight innings. Snyder finished with eight strikeouts and gave up two runs on five hits. Snyder walked one and hit Guetzlaff and Jake Laffey twice each.
“We struggled,” right fielder Steve Boldt said. “He threw all off-speed and we struggle against those pitchers. That’s just the way it is. I didn’t see one fastball until the end of the game against a new pitcher.”
Guetzlaff drove in both runs for Red Wing, but no player had more than one hit in the game. Guetzlaff finished 1-for-3, Adam Thygesen went 1-for-5, Kyle Blahnik was 1-for-5 and Zach Garner went 1-for-2, but the Aces didn’t adjust at the plate like they had been recently.
“We didn’t make the adjustments and that’s the thing,” Gibart said. “We knew he was throwing off-speed at the start. We just kept swinging at bad pitches early.”
Red Wing starter Aaron Johnson kept the team in the game with his performance. Johnson went eight innings, struck out 10 and gave up two runs on seven hits while walking two.
Johnson worked out of two jams to limit the Xpress to two runs. Duluth loaded the bases with two outs in the third inning but Johnson got Kusch to fly out to short to end the inning. After the Xpress took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on RBI basehits from Houdek and Walsh, Johnson allowed Dan Anderson to reach third base with no outs. Johnson singled and advanced on two wild pitches before Johnson bore down. Johnson struck out the next two hitters and got Kyle Jensen to fly out to right to end the inning.
“Aaron kept us in the game, that’s the bottom line,” Boldt said. “He threw a great game.”
Red Wing had won 13 of its last 15 games before losing to Dundas twice, but now has dropped its last three consecutive games.
“I think we were prepared to play but we didn’t have our same attitude that we’ve had the last month,” Gibart said. “We were a little lethargic and it showed on the diamond.”
The Aces took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Guetzlaff singled to score Laffey. Laffey reached base when Snyder hit him and moved into scoring position on Garner’s sacrifice bunt.
Facing a do-or-die situation is fine for Boldt, now that team sits a loss away from elimination.
“It’s probably better for us after (Friday),” Boldt said. “We were tense (Friday). It definitely didn’t feel like a playoff atmosphere and that’s probably our fault.”