Minneota falls just short to Chokio, ends season
ROSEN — The last time the Minneota and Chokio amateur teams faced each other, it required some extra baseball for the Mudhens to ultimately earn a 5-3 victory in 11 innings on June 28. With both teams’ seasons on the line, the second meeting on Sunday in Rosen had a similar approach, as the Mudhens and Coyotes battled it out into extras once more but this time it was a different result, as Chokio got a 3-2 victory of its own in 11 frames to keep its season alive and move on in the Region 9C tournament.
Minneota manager Tyson Sonnenburg said they were able to hit the ball well all afternoon, but just couldn’t get the key one to not find the glove of the defense, especially with a tough wind going in from the outfield all day.
“We hit the ball well, just at people. We had a lot of hard-hit balls to left field and maybe a different day with the wind not blowing straight in some of those land or some of those go over and it’s a different game. We just couldn’t get the one to land and then they poked one into right field and that ends up being the deciding factor,” Sonnenburg said. “That’s baseball, as tough as it is, that’s how it goes sometimes.”
The game had the makings of a tight battle right from the start, as Minneota starter Peyton Nuy and Chokio starter Todd Woelfel got locked in a pitcher’s duel. Neither side found scoring until the bottom of the fourth inning when the Mudhens jumped on the board first thanks to an infield single by Sonnenburg, a sacrifice bunt by Austin Buysse, a single from Alex Pohlen and a fielder’s choice from Austin DeVlaeminck to give Minneota a 1-0 lead.
After a scoreless fifth, Chokio was able to get its offense going in the top half of the sixth, using three straight singles to plate a run before a sacrifice fly put the Coyotes in front at 2-1.
Minneota continued to battle, though, as DeVlaeminck led off the seventh with a single before Danny Hennen got aboard and both runners were moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Preston Nuy. After Beau Buysse reached on an infield single, Jake Leighton connected on a RBI single to tie things up at 2-2.
As the game drew closer to the final innings, neither team was able to take advantage at the plate and for the second time this season, the matchup between the Mudhens and the Coyotes would have to be decided in extras.
Looking for a spark, Chokio was able to put a runner aboard before a single made it first and second with one out. But Minneota reliever Zach Nuy, who came on in the eighth, was able to get a double play ball between the first baseman Hennen and the second baseman Beau Buysse to escape from the jam.
After Minneota wasn’t able to capitalize on a single by Adam Durfee in the bottom of the frame, things headed to the 11th. Once again, the Coyotes jumped out to a strong start to the inning, this time getting a leadoff double before a sacrifice bunt put a runner at third with one out. One batter later, the Coyotes found the outfield grass with a bloop single to take a 3-2 lead. Chokio had a chance to add to its lead, but Durfee would come in to relieve Zach Nuy and get a strikeout and a popout to end the frame.
The Mudhens then entered their at-bat looking to do similar damage. DeVlaeminck and Hennen both reached on infield errors to get runners aboard before a sacrifice bunt by Brock Buysse and a walk from Beau Buysse loaded the bases with one out. But that would be the closest Minneota got, as a popout and a fielder’s choice ended the rally and the season for the Mudhens.
Leighton led the way for Minneota with a pair of hits and an RBI while Hennen and Durfee each added two hits of their own and DeVlaeminck had a hit and an RBI.
Peyton Nuy went seven innings while allowing two runs on four hits and struck out four.
With the loss, Minneota ends its season with an overall record of 11-6. Going into next year, Sonnenburg said their biggest takeaway is just keeping the group together and working on the momentum they built from this season.
“Just to keep the group together, that’s the biggest thing,” Sonnenburg said. “In amateur baseball, you don’t know what happens from season to season; guys move or get jobs somewhere else, so we just need to keep the group together and take the momentum into next season.”