SECTION 3A BASEBALL: Minneota takes out Lakeview, MCC in section opener

Photo by Jake Przytarski Minneota’s Grady Moorse swings at a pitch during their Section 3A tournament game against Lakeview on Saturday. The Vikings defeated Lakeview 3-2 and MCC 3-0.

MINNEOTA - Four area teams met at Kompelien Field on Saturday for the Section 3A baseball tournament looking to take the first step towards a state tournament berth. After three games, two teams remained in contention with Murray County Central and Minneota each winning their opening games before squaring off in the finale with the Vikings coming out on top in a 3-0 final.

With the loss, the Rebels move to the consolation bracket where they will take on Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian at 5 p.m. in Jackson needing a victory to stay alive.

The Vikings will head to Milroy on Tuesday for their next game against Lac qui Parle Valley at 7 p.m.

Game 1

Minneota 3,

Lakeview 2

The No. 1 seeded Vikings took on No. 8 seeded Lakeview to open up the afternoon of baseball and were pushed to the brink of an upset by a hungry Lakers ballclub. Unfazed, the senior-laden ballclub dug in and posted a crooked number in the fourth inning to win by a final score of 3-2.

The Lakers struck first in the low-scoring affair with junior Brennan Aguirre delivering a two-out RBI single in the top of the second inning before Aaron Lienemann followed suit with a run-scoring base hit of his own on the ensuing at-bat to make it 2-0 Lakeview.

Starting pitcher Noah Jensen went the distance for the Lakers and held the Minneota offense in check for five of his six innings on the mound. It wasn’t until the bottom of the fourth inning that the Vikings were finally able to break through with their three runs via a pair of fielding errors and an RBI double by Austin Sorensen.

Disappointed by the result but proud of the team’s effort, Lakeview coach Tom Yahnka had confidence that his team could compete with Minneota after making great strides since their previous meeting.

“I really thought that we could give them a game because we’ve been playing pretty good baseball the last three or four weeks,” said Yahnka. “We’re starting to hit the ball. Once we were able to get outside and practice we got over the errors issues that we had earlier, and you know when we played them earlier in the year it was a 13-3 game, but we had seven errors in that game. I honestly thought we could compete with them and we took them to the wire. I’m very proud of these kids, very proud.”

Yahnka is already looking forward to next year with a large number of players set to return to next year’s squad.

“We have a lot to build on,” said Yahnka. “I told the guys now go out and play some summer ball and come back in the spring and let’s have a good season from start to finish. That’s what we’re looking forward to hopefully we can do that.”

Game 2

MCC 7, Wabasso 5

No. 4 seed Murray County Central got more than it bargained for in their first matchup of the day with No. 5 seed Wabasso, as a rejuvenated Rabbits club was able to hang tough and give the Rebels a late inning-scare with a two-run rally in the sixth inning. The late offensive surge was not enough, however, as the Rebels hung on to win in a 7-5 final.

The two teams wasted little time generating runs to start the game as the Rebels posted back-to-back two-run innings in the first two frames while the Rabbits responded with a three-run burst in the second inning.

The scoring for MCC was highlighted by a sacrifice fly by Danny Blankenship, who went on to lead the club in RBIs for the game with three after driving in two more runs in the bottom of the second inning with a base hit.

Wabasso’s Brock Rohlik stepped up as the Rabbits leading hitter for the day by driving in the team’s first two runs on a double, and finished the game going two for three with a pair of extra-base hits.

Rohlik made his final plate appearance in the top of the sixth inning with the Rabbits down by a pair of runs after cutting the four-run deficit in half earlier in the inning. Prior to his at-bat, the Rebels made a pitching change and called upon Drew Coulter to take over for Nate Everson with Wabasso threatening to score again. The move proved to be effective, as Coulter struck Rohlik out helping to put an end to the Rabbits late push and help secure the victory.

Though they were unable to come out on top, Wabasso coach Chad Olson couldn’t be prouder of how far his team has come after starting the year 0-6 and finishing 6-5 in their last 11 games.

“It felt like it was two different seasons,” said Olson. “We were 0-6 to start and now 6-5 today in our last 11 games. So, overall, we had a young group. We graduated eight kids last year’s state tournament team and that’s not easy to do. You have to find guys that can play the positions. We were trying some guys out early in the season and kind of decided to go the direction that we finished here with moving some guys around. Some of these guys were playing where they didn’t necessarily start the season at those spots. But just overall, I was real pleased with the way we handled the start of the season and so I’m really happy with our kids.”

Game 3

Minneota 3, MCC 0

The final game of the day between MCC and Minneota came only eight days after the two teams had met in Slayton where the Rebels handily defeated the Vikings by a final score of 12-0 in five innings. Back on their home field, the Vikings flipped the script in Saturday’s rematch thanks in part to brilliant performances on the mound from Buysse and Teddy Pesch to shut the Rebels out in a 3-0 final.

All three runs scored by Minneota came off the bat of Landon Rolbiecki, who got his team on the board in the first inning with a two-RBI single before driving in the final run in the sixth on another base hit. Minneota coach Keven Larson acknowledged that the quick start for the team was important in building up confidence.

“It was the same guy that we faced down there, and he kept us off-balance down there and we were a little bit frustrated,” said Larson. “We don’t see a lot of left-handed pitchers and he just threw a lot of strikes. We got to him right away and then he seemed to settle down and he was right around the plate and hit his spots well.”

Buysse ensured that the lead was in safe keeping with five scoreless innings before Pesch stepped in with two runners on and no outs in the sixth inning and retired the final three batters to end the threat.

Rebels starter Kyler Deacon pitched all six innings for his club and was efficient throughout his time on the mound. According to MCC coach Derek Lieser, the team’s inability to generate offense with runners in scoring position is what proved to be the difference.

“Kyler did a really nice job and gave us another good start,” said Lieser. “He faced them last Friday and did another nice job, we just didn’t play as well defensively. We had a couple of errors right away and then we just didn’t swing the bats very well at all today.”

With the Rebels now in win or go home mode, Lieser is hoping that the team can correct Saturday’s mistakes in Tuesday’s matchup with Edgerton/SW MN Christian.

“I think just the biggest thing is it’s win or go home and every pitch matters,” said Lieser. Every at-bat matters, and we have to continue to throw strikes like we have been and continue to make the plays when we get opportunities.”

As for the Vikings, Larson is looking for his team to use the disappointment from last year’s section tournament as motivation to come out ready to go upon taking the field against LQPV on Tuesday.

“Two years in a row now we’ve come out of Saturday and played well and last year we didn’t play well on that Tuesday so it’s just hopefully remembering that feeling and being ready to go after a long weekend,” said Larson.