|Mudhens rally falls short at Luverne|
By Byron Higgin, Mascot Publisher
It looked pretty bleak in the sixth inning after Luverne broke open a 2-1 game with seven runs to take a 9-1 lead.
But as Manager Greg Shaikoski would say later, "We didn't die," and the Minneota Mudhens rallied to get within 9-7 and left two runners stranded in the ninth.
The loss to Luverne throws Minneota into the losers' bracket. They will play Wilmont, a winner over Pipestone for the right to came back Sunday and play Luverne.
Luverne is assured of a spot in the section tournament and either Wilmont or Minneota would have to beat the Redbirds twice to win the playoffs. The top two teams advance to sections.
Starting pitcher Tony Shaikoski dueled Luverne's Phil Pacquette through the fifth inning and was coasting along with seven strikeouts.
Minneota struck early when they bunched three singles i the second inning and Jason Myhre scored on ton Ufkin's single to right. Luvere took a 2-1 lead in the third on a two-run double by Zach Olson.
It looked like a pitcher's duel, until the Redbirds poundedout five hits in the sixth off Shaikoski, ended his day on the mound and took a 9-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth. Tyson Sonnenburg came on in relief.
But in the seventh the Mudhens staged a comeback, scored five runs and narrowed the margin to 9-6.
The big hits were a run-scoring double by Jesse Drager, a two-run single by Sonnenburg and singles by Justin Greenwood and a run-producing single by Myhre.
The wheels came off Pacquette's wagon in the seventh and the Redbirds sent fireballer Andrew DeBoer to the mound. He had control trouble and Minneota received a pair of walks before the rally was over.
They got one more in the eighth when Drager slapped his second hit to right field and send Josh Williams across the plate.
"I was proud of the way these guys came back," said first baseman Myhre. He was a big part of the rally with three hits, a run scored and a run knocked in.
"We battled and never gave up," he added.
In the ninth Shaikoski and Myhre singled but DeBoer got the final two outs to preserve the 9-7 win.
Minneota banged out 11 hits, three by Myhre and two by Shaikoski, Sonnenburg and Drager.
Luverne's Zach Olson had a big night going 2-5 with four runs batted in, a run scored, a double and triple. Zach Clark and Tim Connell had two hits each for Luverne. The Redbirds had 10 hits.
Minneota will be at Wilmont at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The winner plays at Luverne Sunday and the loser will end the season. Minneota is11-18 on the year and 2-1 in the playoffs. Luverne at 18-7 is 3-0 in playoff action.