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Amateur Baseball: Bears stopped by Nisswa

Cannon Falls third baseman Rich Burr makes a throw to first during Saturday's Class C state amateur baseball game against Nisswa in Belle Plaine. The Bears' season came to an end in a 4-3 loss. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 3
Cannon Falls starting pitcher Keith Meyers went eight innings, striking out in the Bears' 4-3 loss to Nisswa. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 3
Cannon Falls shortstop Zeke Williams (1) makes a throw to first base as Nisswa's Aaron Jenkins slides into second during Saturday's Class C state amateur baseball game at Belle Plaine. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)3 / 3

BELLE PLAINE, Minn. – As Taylor Pagel headed to second base with a bases-loaded double, he thought there was new life for Cannon Falls.

Down 4-1 heading into the eighth inning, Pagel brought home Nate Otto and Brandon Voth, and Rich Burr slid head-first into home, trying to tie Saturday’s Class C state playoff opener against Nisswa.

As the dust settled on the slide, Burr was called out, much to the chagrin Pagel and the rest of the Bears’ bench.

“I got to second and I got to see that whole play at home and he was safe,” Pagel said. “He was definitely safe. And that’s a bummer when the ump takes the game away from you.”

With Cannon Falls’ comeback hopes deflated, Nisswa moved on with a 4-3 victory at Tiger Park in Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

While the call at home plate was the definitive moment of the game, the Bears did themselves no favors with five errors while the Lightning was perfect in the field.

“They made every play,” said Cannon Falls starting pitcher/manager Keith Meyers. “Every play we hit at them, they made it, and we were just the opposite.”

Nisswa’s leadoff hitter in the third, Brett Jenkins, got on after an error at shortstop. Two batters later, Aaron Jenkins belted an RBI double down the right-field line to put the Lightning up 1-0. Then with two outs in the fourth, a throwing error at second base allowed Drew Bowen, making it a 2-0 advantage.

“Small things affected us,” said Pagel, Cannon Falls’ catcher. “I should have backed up that throw when (second baseman Jamie) Stay made that nice play and he threw it away. I hesitated there.”

Pagel (2-for-4) redeemed himself with an RBI double to left field that scored Burr as part of a four-hit bottom of the fourth.

After enduring four errors in the first four innings, the Bears were able to settle down thanks to Meyers’ performance on the mound. Bulldogging his way through eight innings, Meyers struck out eight without giving up a walk.

“He calmed down and started hitting his spots,” Pagel said of Meyers’ performance on the mound.

Meyers’ one mistake on the mound came on a high changeup that Jenkins drove over the left-field wall for a two-run home run in the seventh that made it 4-1.

“Keith missed on a changeup up, and that was the game right there,” Pagel said.

Meyers led the top of the eighth off with a single, but was thrown out as part of a Nisswa double play. The Bears were undeterred as Otto (3-for-3, 2B), Voth (1-for-4) and Burr (2-for-4) hit three consecutive singles to get Pagel up for the bases-loaded opportunity that ultimately fell just short.

With one more chance for Cannon Falls to tie it up in the ninth, the Lightning’s Jason Roepke put the finishing touches on a complete game by getting three straight outs. Roepke struck out five while giving up 11 hits, three runs and two walks.

With the win, Nisswa will face the Region 5A winner, Waseca, on Aug. 23 back in Belle Plaine.

Cannon Falls (23-17) disagreed with the call at the plate, but the game was ultimately decided over nine innings instead of just one play.

“It should have never been that way,” Meyers said. “We game ‘em a couple early, then I gave them a couple late.

Meyers continued, “We hit the ball, we just couldn’t do more than that. That’s the way the state tournament is; you have to come up with some clutch two-out hitting and play defense and we didn’t do that.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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