MANKATO - Minnesota Valley Lutheran pitcher Rick Jensen has logged a lot of innings this year, and on Tuesday when his team needed him yet again, he didn't disappoint.
Jensen had a rough second inning, giving up three runs against Mankato Loyola. After giving up another run in the third, he settled down and blanked the Crusaders the rest of the way.
Nick Dewanz had the go-ahead RBI in the top of the eighth as MVL advanced past Loyola 5-4 in eight innings Tuesday in Section 2A playoff action at Franklin Rogers Park.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Minnesota Valley Lutheran shortstop Justin Bruns relays the ball to first for a double play to end the Section 2A Playoff game against Mankato Loyola Tuesday at Franklin Rogers Park in Mankato
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Jensen said he did plenty during the offseason to get his arm in shape.
"I've been doing a lot of training in the offseason, I've been throwing a lot and keeping the arm in shape," Jensen said. "I felt fine."
MVL then played Waterville-Elysian-Morristown in the second game. There, the Bucs took advantage of four MVL?errors, including a dropped fly ball in the bottom of the seventh with runners on second and third and two outs, as the Bucs ended MVL's season at 10-10.
In the first game, the Chargers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the second inning after Dewanz and Chad Lease led off with hits. Jensen's sacrifice bunt moved them up 90 feet, then Jake Mielke singled to score Dewanz. Lease later scored on an error at second and a grounder to first scored the third run of the inning. Ryan Grunke added an RBI single later in the inning to make it 4-0.
The Crusaders managed to score three times in the bottom of the second, with two runs scoring on Carson Seifert's infield single.
The Crusaders added a run in the third to tie the game, and the teams were scoreless until the eighth.
The Chargers did have a scare in the bottom of the seventh. Loyola's Jake Peller led off the inning with a single and Seifert missed a chance to bunt him over. On that same pitch, MVL catcher Ryan Grunke fired a throw to first and caught Peller leaning off the bag too far as the game remained tied.
Meanwhile, Loyola starter Evan Ellingworth set down 15 straight batters from the third until the seventh inning.
"He was in a good groove, he was getting the ball quick and throwing it right back, and we didn't have too much time to prepare for that," Jensen said.
Grunke led off the eighth by reaching on an error. After Justin Bruns bunted him over to second, Tyler Mielke followed with a grounder to second that put Grunke on third.
There, Dewanz delivered a two-out single for the 5-4 lead. The Crusaders again had a chance in the bottom of the eighth, but the Chargers got a double play to end the game.
In the second game, hits were hard to come by for both team as both combined for four in the game. Both teams were hitless until the sixth inning.
The big play came in the bottom of the seventh when the Bucs had runners on second and third with two outs. A fly ball was dropped by MVL shortstop Justin Bruns in left field and the winning run scored. The Bucs move on to face BOLD at 5 p.m. Thursday in the Section 2A championship.
Dewanz struck out nine and gave up three hits in the loss Derek Masberg earned the win for the Bucs.