By Mike Marsnik
The Moorhead Brewers scored three times in the sixth inning to take a 4-1 lead, then hung on to notch a 4-3 win over the Cold Spring Springers Saturday afternoon, setting them up for a chance to take on undefeated Chanhassen tomorrow (Sunday) in the championship game(s) at Joe Schleper Stadium in Shakopee. The Springers are eliminated and Moorhead will have to win twice to take the crown.
The Brewers used four pitchers. Kyle Kingsley, their second man in, got credit for the win, though he might have been the least effective. He allowed two runs on four hits over two innings. Starter Ryan Olson gave up only one run on four hits over four innings. He walked two and struck out one. Matt Oye did his part with a scoreless inning in relief of Kingsley. Parker Trewin got the two-inning save, allowing one hit, but no runs in the ninth.
Brewers catcher Chandler Ibach’s two-run single to right in the bottom of the sixth proved to be the difference-maker. He went 2-for-4 in the game with two RBI.
Zack Femrite went the distance for the Springers, coming up just short. The right-hander allowed four runs in eight innings on nine hits, two walks, and one hit batter. He struck out five. He threw 104 pitches.
The game featured a lot of contact. Only seven batters struck out, no one more than once. Three of the Ks were the backward variety, i.e. caught looking. The game also featured some outstanding fielding. Cold Spring left fielder Brad Olson made a long run to catch a fly off the bat of Denver Blinn with a runner on second in the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the sixth Nick Salentine made a leap to spear a Garrett Fuchs line drive, robbing him of a sure hit and possibly extra bases. Each team managed to turn an infield double play as well.
Moorhead got on the board first. Jayse McLean drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the first. Denver Blinn and Joe Hallock followed with singles, Hallock’s accounting for his eighth RBI of the tournament.
Brian Hansen led off the top of the third for Cold Spring with a hit up the middle, moved to second on a groundout and scored on a single to left by Jordan Barth. That was Barth’s fifth RBI of the day and it tied the score at 1-1. He hit a pair of two-run homers in the Springers’ previous game against Miesville.
The Brewers threatened in the third, putting runners at first and third with one out, but Femrite was able to catch Tanner Adam looking and got Mike Peschel to ground out, snuffing out the Moorhead threat. He managed to retire the next five batters, before Spencer Flaten singled up the middle on a full count to lead off the bottom of the fifth. The Brewers’ fleet-footed leadoff hitter then stole second base, but Femrite retired the next three in order, stranding him at second.
The Springers banged out three hits in the sixth, but failed to produce a run. With one out, Drew Bulson singled to right off Kingsley, then moved to second on a single by Drew VanLoy. Brad Olson lined out to first for the second out. Jeron Terres fouled off several pitches with a 1-2 count and finally smacked a single into left field. Brewers’ left fielder McLean picked it up and fired home to Ibach who tagged out Bulson at the plate for the third out, keeping the score knotted at 1.
Tanner Adam took first when he was hit by a Femrite pitch to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Mike Peschel followed with a single to left, then Brandon Kolpack hit a double to left that hit the fence on one bounce, scoring Adam. Chandler Ibach’s 0-2 hit back through the box plated Peschel and Kolpack. Nick Salentine dropped down a bunt and beat the catcher’s high throw to first. Femrite got the next three in order, but the Brewers had built a three-run lead.
Springers nine-hole hitter Alex Jungels led off the top of the seventh by hitting a Kingsley fastball over the head of McLean in left for a double. Brian Hansen hit the very next pitch, not only over McLean’s head but over the left field fence to narrow the lead to 4-3. Two pitches later, when Garrett Fuchs singled to right-center, Kingsley’s outing was finished.
Matt Oye then relieved Kingsley and got Barth to an 0-2 count before inducing a 5-4-3 double play. Oye walked Joe Dempsey and got Bulson to pop out to second, preserving the one-run lead. Trewin took it from there, allowing only a single to Garrett Fuchs with two out and an 0-2 count in the top of the ninth. He got Barth on a grounder to third, forcing Fuchs at second to end the game.
Hansen went 2-for-5 with a homer. He scored two and knocked in two for the Springers. Bulson was 2-for-4 and Fuchs 2-for-5 in the losing effort. The team left nine runners on base, four in scoring position.
Hallock, Ibach and Nick Salentine all went 2-for-4 for the Brewers. Ibach finished with two RBI. Hallock and Kolpack each got one.
Moorhead faces Chanhassen at 1 p.m. Sunday (Sept. 6). If the Brewers win, a second game is set for 4 p.m. to decide the champion. If Chanhassen wins either game they will have their third Class B state title in as many years. The Red Birds have not lost since their first game this season.