Amateur Baseball: Aces secure first trip to state since 2006Red Wing’s wild season reached a pinnacle Saturday when the Aces earned a spot in the Minnesota Baseball Association Class B state tournament with a 7-5 victory over Duluth at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
By: Nick Gerhardt, The Republican Eagle
Red Wing’s wild season reached a pinnacle Saturday when the Aces earned a spot in the Minnesota Baseball Association Class B state tournament with a 7-5 victory over Duluth at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
Red Wing hasn’t reached the state tournament since 2006 and this trip might be the most surprising one yet for the Aces. Red Wing scuffled through the first months of the season and sat at 13-13 heading into the Shakopee/Jordan Coors Light Tournament July 13. Since then the Aces have gone 12-5, knocked off No. 1 seeded Miesville in the section playoffs and avoided elimination in the Super Section to become one of eight teams left standing in the state.
“It’s something different,” Red Wing catcher and co-manager Jimmy Bohmbach said. “The way we started it just never looked like it was going to end.”
The Aces went 1-9 in section games during the regular season and six of those losses came by three runs or less, often with Red Wing blowing a lead.
The Aces stopped losing leads late after the Shakopee/Jordan tournament and they didn’t let a 6-5 lead slip away against Duluth. Instead Red Wing extended it with clutch hitting.
The Xpress rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the seventh when Kyle Flagstad hit a two-run homer, but it ended up being a brief lead.
The Aces took a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the seventh when Chris Guetzlaff came around to score after getting a leadoff single. Guetzlaff drove in Zach Garner in the eighth to give Red Wing a 7-5 lead and some breathing room.
That lead looked in jeopardy in the ninth when Duluth put the first two runners on with one out. Andy Schwantes singled to shallow right field and Flagstad attempted to score from third, but Steve Boldt threw a dart to Bohmbach at the plate to prevent Flagstad from scoring. Flagstad scored two runs Friday when the Xpress won 3-2 in 10 innings and beat two throws to the plate from Boldt.
“I was contemplating even throwing it home because I didn’t want the tying run to advance a base, but I caught him out of the corner of my eye and thought I could have him,” Boldt said.
Duluth still had runners on first and second with two outs but Aaron Johnson got Brian Houdek to ground out to second base to end the game.
“I don’t know why they were sending him,” Aces co-manager Andy Gibart said. “That run meant nothing. It was kind of a ‘thank you’ to them for sending him and Steve’s got a hose out there. He didn’t show it (Friday) night but he’s got one of the best arms in the state out there. We’ll let guys test him all day.”
Garner finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run while Dave Jenson went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, Guetzlaff was 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI, Zach Laffey went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI and Blahnik went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run. Red Wing had 11 hits in the game.
Boldt made his fourth start of the season for the Aces and got his fourth victory of the season after tossing eight innings. Boldt allowed five runs on six hits, walked two and struck out three.
The Aces (25-18) advanced to the game by beating Eagan 7-0 earlier in the day. Red Wing scored all seven runs in the ninth inning, but whatever offensive woes they showed in the first two games of the tournament evaporated with a spot in the state tournament on the line.
Duluth took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning but it didn’t take long for Red Wing to respond.
The Aces grabbed a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning when the first four hitters reached base. Garner delivered a two-run double to cap off the inning.
The Xpress cut it to 4-2 in the fifth but once again Red Wing had an answer. Bohmbach walked with one out and came around to score to make it 5-2.
Duluth came back with a run in the sixth to make it 5-3 before tying it up in the seventh.
“The team we have and the way we’ve been playing since the Shakopee tournament I’m willing to put our team on the line against anyone with the way we’re playing, Gibart said. “We’ve realized how to play clutch baseball and that’s what we were missing for the first two months of the season.”
Seven-run ninth springs Aces
Both Eagan and Red Wing struggled offensive in the opening round of the tournament and both did again Saturday in the consolation bracket.
Eagan struck out 16 times in a 5-0 loss to Cold Spring and had just two hits. The Aces didn’t fare much better and had two runs on five hits.
Still it took eight innings before either team put something together and Red Wing did.
The Aces sent 11 hitter to the plate in the ninth inning and scored seven runs, including two with two outs.
Adam Thygesen went 3-for-5 with an RBI, Bohmbach finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and Jake Laffey had a 2-for-4 performance with a run.
Gibart kept Eagan off-balance and gave up just five hits while striking out five and walking one.
Red Wing will face Mankato Friday at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud at 8 p.m.