AMATEUR BASEBALL: Sights on six
Buttermakers take down Luverne in Game 3 of series, clinch sixth straight trip to state tournament
HADLEY/LUVERNE — The Hadley amateur baseball team has seen it all during its past five consecutive years of reaching the state tournament, including garnering a perfect record in the Region 13C tournament two seasons ago and battling back with come-from-behind wins in several region games last season.
The Buttermakers were going to have to rely on something new if they were going to make it back for a sixth trip. After dropping Game 2 of their best-of-three series to Luverne on Saturday at home, sixth-seeded Hadley hit the road for the final game in the series. Thanks to a dominant start by Sam Erickson and some key runs late, the Buttermakers clinched their sixth straight appearance to the Class C tournament with a 6-0 victory on Sunday.
Hadley took control of the pace right away and never looked back, as Jacob Van Dam led off the game with a home run to make it 1-0. After a couple of scoreless frames, the Buttermakers continued to find offense, loading the bases in the top of the fourth with one out before Kellan Johnson connected on a double that plated two runs to push Hadley’s lead to 3-0.
The Buttermakers continued to hold on to their three-run lead despite multiple scoring threats by the Redbirds. Then in the top of the ninth, Hadley would get a pair of baserunners aboard before Alex Petersen came up with a big three-run blast to push the Buttermakers’ lead to 6-0. Draftee Tucker Sorenson of the Adrian A’s then tossed a second scoreless frame to seal the victory and help Hadley clinch a trip back to state.
Erickson earned the win on the mound, going six innings. Petersen and Van Dam led the way offensively for Hadley with the home runs and combined for four RBI while Johnson added two RBI.
Hadley will face No. 1 seed Fairmont in a best-of-three series to determine the first and second seeds at state. The series will begin Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Fairmont.
Before the Buttermakers would seal their trip to the state tournament, they had an opportunity to clinch the series on their home field on Saturday. Hadley jumped out to a strong start on the offensive end, as Nick Bruning and Eric Wieneke connected on one-out singles in the first before a run scored on an error to make it 1-0. After a walk by Alex Petersen, Max Zwart smacked an RBI single to push the Buttermakers lead to 2-0 after one.
Neither side would find scoring over the next several innings, with Hadley starter Jacob Van Dam and Luverne starter Brandan Alfson, who was drafted from the Pipestone A’s, getting into their respective zones. The Redbirds were finally able to piece together some offense in the top half of the fifth, using a single and a stolen base before an RBI single helped cut the deficit to 2-1.
Luverne kept the momentum going in the next frame, getting a one-out walk before back-to-back RBI doubles gave the Redbirds their first lead of the day. Luverne wasn’t done there, as a hit batter and two more RBI singles extended its lead to 5-2.
Meanwhile, Hadley continued to struggle at the plate after finding offense early. The Buttermakers would get at least one baserunner aboard in the second through fifth innings, but couldn’t capitalize enough to plate a run.
After a couple of empty innings, the two sides headed to the ninth, with Luverne still holding on to a three-run lead. The Redbirds quickly added to their advantage in their final at-bat, though, getting a solo home run to left before three straight hits scored two more runs to make it 8-2. Hadley would get one final chance to bat, but went down in order to end the game.
Zwart led the way for Hadley with two hits and an RBI while Bruning and Wieneke each added two hits and Van Dam had a hit.
Van Dam took the loss on the mound, going 5 2/3 innings while allowing five runs on nine hits.