Baseball roundup: Litchfield Dragons aim for spoiler role
May 25—LITCHFIELD — Litchfield is ready to play spoiler again in the Section 5AA baseball bracket.
Last season as the eighth seed, the Dragons went on to beat top-seeded Southwest Christian in the second round.
The No. 8 seed once again, Litchfield gets another shot at the No. 1 seed.
The Dragons enter the double-elimination portion of the bracket after knocking off No. 9 Maple Lake 4-2 Thursday at Optimist Park. "Playoff baseball is usually low-scoring and close," said Litchfield head coach Jeff Wollin. "Sometimes you need a break and I think today, we played well enough and we made our own breaks."
At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Dragons (9-12) head to top-seeded Rockford. The Rockets won both regular-season matchups: 6-3 on April 13; and 8-6 on May 1.
Rockford has won the last five games in the rivalry. The last Litchfield win came in the 5AA playoffs on May 29, 2021.
"I think we're due to change some things around," Wollin said.
Thursday against Maple Lake, Anthony Estrada's bat made the difference for the Dragons.
A stiff wind blowing out from center field knocked balls down all day, except for an Estrada blast in the first inning. With one out and runners on first and second, Estrada drove the ball over the left-field fence for a three-run home run.
"I fouled off the one before it and I was a little bit nervous so I was just thinking base hit," said Estrada, a sophomore third baseman. "I was looking for a nice bat path and I got a nice hanging curve and got a good rip on it."
After the Irish cut the deficit to one, Estrada delivered again in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single that brought home Connor Taber.
From there, pitcher Bradley Larson and the Litchfield defense had to finish the job.
Larson limited Maple Lake (9-11) to four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in a complete-game victory.
"He didn't get in trouble with wild-ness and he got out of a few jams," Wollin said of Larson. "He competed for seven innings really well."
The fifth inning was shaky as Maple Lake scored a pair of runs on a Jarrett Faue double before Larson coaxed the Irish into two straight pop outs. In the sixth, Maple Lake got runners on second and third base before Larson ended the threat by striking out Gavin Miller.
"Bradley's been a great pitcher and a great teammate for us all year," Estrada said. "I'm glad he could come out here and do the job for us."
In the seventh, Estrada ended the game with a double play, stepping on third base for the force out and throwing to first for the final out.
"That one may have been some good fortune with the way the ball was spinning," Wollin said of the final out. "For Anthony to be able to get it and throw that one-hop throw — turns out it was a perfect hop — that was good."
Maple Lake 000 020 0-2 4 2
Litchfield 300 001 x-4 6 2
Hitting — Maple Lake: Eddy Neu 1-3, Danny Reilley 1-2 2b r, Gavin Miller 0-2 r bb, Jarrett Faue 1-2 2b rbi, Sam Marquette 1-3 ... Litchfield: Jack McCann 1-3 sb, Caden Besemer 1-2 r, Connor Taber 2-3 r-2 sb, Anthony Estrada 2-3 hr r rbi-4 sb
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Maple Lake: Faue (L) 6-6-4-4-0-4 ... Litchfield: Bradley Larson (W) 7-4-2-1-4-7
Eighth-seeded Martin County West knocked out ninth-seeded BOLD in the opening round of the Section 2A playoffs at Fox Lake Area Sports Complex in Welcome.
With the win, the Mavericks take on top-seeded Sleepy Eye at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Sleepy Eye.
The Warriors wrap up the season at 6-11.
Rocori scored six times in the first, once in the second and six more times in the third on its way to the victory over Willmar at Swansson Field.
The Cardinals scored three in the first and managed four hits. Dylan Staska led the way, going 2-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base. Jordan Ellingson was 1-for-1 with a double, a walk and two RBIs for Willmar.
Jack Spanier and Beck Loesch each had two hits for the Spartans (12-8).
Willmar wraps up the regular season with a 5-13 record and prepares for the Section 8AA playoffs, where seeds have yet to be announced.
Rocori 616 01-14 9 1
Willmar 300 01-4 4 2
Hitting — Rocori: Jack Spanier 2-4 r sb, Jack Boos 0-1 r-2 sb, Beck Loesch 2-3 r-2 rbi-2, Grady Notch 1-1 r, Brady Schafer 1-1 r-3 rbi bb-2 2b, Jordan Theisen 0-0 hbp, John Kinzer 1-1 r rbi-3 bb 2b hbp, Hunter Heidgerken 0-1 rbi sf hbp, Evan Acheson 0-2 rbi bb, Kaden Rausch 0-1 r, Brady Weber 1-3 r rbi-2, Thad Lieser 1-2 r rbi-2 bb sb ... Willmar: Tyler Madsen 1-3, Jaxxon Sjoberg 0-1 r bb hbp, Cullen Gregory 0-2 r hbp, Dylan Staska 2-3 r-2 sb, Jordan Ellingson 1-1 rbi-2 bb 2b, Landon Ogdahl 0-0 rbi, Mattix Swanson 0-1 bb sb
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Rocori: Acheson (W) 4-3-3-2-3-6, Rausch 1-1-1-0-0-2 ... Willmar: Jaydon Garnhardt (L) 0.2-4-6-6-2-0, Ellingson 1.1-4-7-6-5-1, Chase Birchard 3-1-1-0-0-2
A four-run fourth inning helped MACCRAY rally from a 3-2 deficit to beat Ortonville at Raymond.
Ethan Stormmer was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Xavier Noble was 2-for-3 with a run and Angel Mendoza was 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Wolverines.
Carter Lee was 2-for-4 with a double and home run and Hunter Merritt went 3-for-3 with a walk for the Trojans.
Sixth-seeded MACCRAY plays third-seeded Dawson-Boyd at 1 p.m. Saturday In Prinsburg in the Section 3A-North playoffs. Second-seeded Central Minnesota Christian faces No. 7 Renville County West at 11 a.m. The 11 a.m. winner and 1 p.m. winner meets at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Prinsburg.
Ortonville 201 000 1-4 8 0
MACCRAY 200 400 x-6 10 2
Hitting — Ortonville: Dru Boots 1-4 r sb-2, Carter Lee 2-4 hr 2b r-2 rbi, Hunter Merritt 3-3 r rbi bb, Connor Danielson 1-2 bb-2, Kirby Olson 1-4 rbi ... MACCRAY: Ethan Strommer 2-4 2b rbi sb, Wyatt Swenson 0-3 r bb, Xavier Noble 2-3 r, Angel Mendoza 2-3 rbi sb, Emery Aker 1-3 r, Keegan Rand 1-3 r rbi sb, Garrett Struxness 0-1 r hbp, Jase Dirksen 1-2 3b r rbi-2, Tobyn Dalle 1-1
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Ortonville: Merritt 6-10-6-6-1-5 ... MACCRAY: Grayson Ahrenholz 2-5-3-1-2-1, Noble (W) 3-2-0-0-0-5, Strommer 2-1-1-1-2-3
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg wrapped up the regular season with a victory against Section 6A-South rival Hancock at Willy Reigstad Field in Sunburg.
Jaiden Henjum and Jared Cortez both went 3-for-4 for the Fighting Saints. Henjum had two triples, three runs scored and an RBI. Cortez hit for a double with two RBIs and a run scored.
The pitching trio of Evan Zimmer, Travis Engelke and Chase Magaard combined for 14 strikeouts while holding the Owls to just two hits.
The Section 6A tournament begins with first-round games on Tuesday. Seeds have yet to be determined.
Hancock 000 000 0-0 2 1
KMS 011 230 x-7 12 1
Hitting — Hancock: Davin Rose 1-3 sb, Donovan Curfman 1-2 bb ... KMS: Luke Jeseritz 1-4 2b r, Isaac Rudningen 1-3 r, Jared Cortez 3-4 2b r rbi-2, Jaiden Henjum 3-4 3b-2 r-3 rbi sb, Travis Engelke 2-2 2b r rbi-2, Evan Zimmer 1-3, Jett Olson 1-1 2b rbi bb hbp
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Hancock: Rose (L) 6-12-7-7-2-7 ... KMS: Zimmer (W) 4-1-0-0-0-7, Engelke 2-1-0-0-0-4, Chase Magaard 1-0-0-0-1-3
Border West took advantage of seven Renville County West errors to beat the Jaguars at Sacred Heart.
Six players had hits for Border West. Eli Larson and Caden Spilde combined for the five-inning shutout, allowing three hits and one walk.
Trevor Peterson, Austin Rice and Zac Gustafson had hits for RCW.
Border West 027 30-12 6 2
RCW 000 00-0 3 7
Hitting — Border West: Brody Nachbor 1-4 r 2b, Eli Larson 1-4 rbi 2b, Marshall Tolifson 1-2 r hbp sb-2, Kevin Casper 1-3 r rbi sb, Caden Spilde 0-2 r bb hbp, Jacob Volker 0-2 r-3 bb sb-2, Nathan Johnson 0-1 r-2 rbi bb-2, Brayden Andrew 1-3 r-2 rbi sb, Brayden Hofer 1-3 r sb ... RCW: Trevor Peterson 1-2, Austin Rice 1-2, Zac Gustafson 1-1, Carson Allex 0-0 bb
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — Border West: Larson (W) 3-1-0-0-1-4, Spilde 2-2-0-0-0-2 ... RCW: Peterson (L) 2.2-3-9-2-3-1, Gustafson 2.1-3-3-1-1-1
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa won a matchup of Section 6A-South teams, beating Upsala/Swanville Area in a non-conference at Elrosa.
Casey Lenarz went 1-for-3 with three RBIs to lead the Jaguars' offense. Luke Illies got the complete-game victory, striking out one.
USA 020 000 0-2 6 3
BBE 304 000 x-7 3 1
Hitting — USA: Bryce Binek 1-3 bb, Jack Primus 1-4 2b sb, Caden Beseman 1-2 r bb, Tyson Leners 2-3 2b-2 r, Max Lange 1-3 rbi-2 ... BBE: Tate DeKok 0-3 r bb, Tanner Shelton 0-4 r, Luke Dingmann 0-3 r-2 bb, Ethan Mueller 1-1 r bb-2, Hayden Sobiech 0-1 r rbi-2 bb-2, Casey Lenarz 1-3 rbi-3, Luke Illies 1-2 bb
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) — USA: Binek (L) 2.1-3-7-1-5-1, Daniel Kokett 3.2-0-0-0-2-3 ... BBE: Illies (W) 7-6-2-2-4-1