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STATE AMATEUR BASEBALL: Late rally pushes Yankees past Bemidji, on to next round

Photo by Sam Thiel Milroy’s Matt Bauer prepares to slide into home plate as Bemidji catcher Caleb Manecke awaits the throw during their Class C state tournament game on Sunday in Waconia. Bauer was safe on the play. The Yankees defeated the Blue Ox 6-5 to advance to the next round.

WACONIA — The Milroy Yankees amateur baseball team have found themselves with their backs against the wall early on several occasions during the season. Many times, they’ve been able to find a way to rally and earn a come-from-behind victory.

On Sunday, they were in a similar situation, this time against Bemidji at the Class C state tournament. But Milroy once again showed their resiliency, overcoming a 5-2 deficit to take down the Blue Ox 6-5 at Lions Field and keep its season alive.

Milroy manager Ryan Rohlik said he’s proud of the way his team has believed in themselves and made the necessary plays against a challenging Bemidji team.

“This team is just something different where we don’t get down with ourselves and you have to believe this time of the year that you’re going to come back and come up with some big plays,” Rohlik said. “I’m so proud of them and how they responded to all of the punches that Bemidji threw because they are a good team and we’re fortunate to win this one.”

Bemidji jumped out to a quick lead, drawing back-to-back walks before a double brought in both baserunners and gave the Blue Ox a 2-0 lead. After going down in order in its first at-bat, Milroy got a response when Matt Bauer reached on an error before Branden Flock connected on an RBI double to make it 2-1 after two.

Neither team found scoring in the third, but Bemidji found its way back on the board in the next frame, getting three straight singles with two outs to plate a run. Milroy would have an answer, however, with Aaron Mathiowetz reaching on an infield single before coming around to score on a Derek Rasmussen double.

Back and forth the two teams went, trading runs in the fifth. The Blue Ox kept their offense going with a one-out single and a two-run home run in the top of the frame, but Milroy had another answer, with Andy Schmidt drawing a walk before David Schmidt and Bauer each connected on a single to plate a run and Mathiowetz reached on an error to bring in another run and keep Milroy within a run at 5-4.

That margin held until the bottom of the seventh, when Andy Schmidt reached on an error and David Schmidt connected on a single before Bauer stepped up and tied things up at 5-5 with an RBI single. Milroy wasn’t done there, as Mathiowetz drew a walk to load the bases with one out before Rasmussen plated a run on a fielder’s choice to give them a 6-5 lead after seven.

Bemidji had one final opportunity to get a run across in the top of the ninth with a pair of singles, but Milroy reliever Nathan Deutz got a strikeout to end the game and seal the victory.

Bauer led Milroy with two hits and two RBI while Mathiowetz added two hits and an RBI, Rasmussen had a hit and two RBI, David Schmidt had two hits, Tauer had a hit and Flock had a hit and an RBI.

Isaac Schmitt earned the start, going 4 1/3 innings while allowing five runs on seven hits and struck out six. Rohlik credited Schmitt for continuing to battle after a tough first inning.

“Isaac is 20 years old, but I’m still proud of him; it could have gone pear-shaped when they put up two runs in the first inning like that but he worked around that. Sometimes you don’t have your best stuff and he’s going to learn from it and grow from it and we had to remember it was just the first inning.”

Nathan Deutz tossed the final 4 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on four hits and struck out two to get the win in relief.

“Nate wanted it and we needed the pick-up and needed to keep him right at five (innings) when Isaac came out and that’s Nate, he’s a bulldog,” Rohlik said. “We kind of talked before the season and he said he would help the team better if he was a reliever rather than a starter because then he could recover faster so it’s a credit to him for doing it for the team and saying, ‘I want to help in a different way’ than what we’ve always relied on him doing. There’s nobody else you want out there to close the game down and that’s exactly what he did.”

Up next

The Yankees (20-8) will face New Ulm on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Chaska.

Milroy Yankees 6,

Bemidji Blue Ox 5

Bemidji 200 120 000 – 5 11 3

Milroy 010 120 20x – 6 9 0

Hitting: Milroy (Tauer 1-3; D. Schmidt 2-5; Bauer 2-4, 2 RBI; Mathiowetz 2-3, RBI; Rasmussen 1-4, 2 RBI; Flock 1-4, RBI).

Pitching (IP-R-ER-H-BB-SO): Milroy (Schmitt 4.1-5-5-7-7-6; N. Deutz 4.2-0-0-4-0-2).

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