BLUE EARTH - New Ulm Silver's E.J. Berdan got a rare second chance in the same at-bat to be the hero, and he didn't let his team down the second time around.
Berdan came to the plate with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Berdan was given the sign for a suicide squeeze, but he was unable to lay down the bunt and Michael Skillings was tagged out at the plate.
Berdan then singled to right field, scoring Alex Guggisberg. Silver defeated United South Central 6-5 and advanced in the VFW Southwest Sub-district baseball playoffs Thursday.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm VFW Silver catcher Alex Fischer reaches to tag Riley Kloos (6) of Wells during New Ulm’s win in the opening round of the playoffs Thursday in Blue Earth. Kloos was out on the play.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujornal.com
Silver will now play St. James at 10 a.m. Friday in Winnebago. If Silver loses, it plays again at 1 p.m. in Blue Earth, and if it wins, Silver will move on to Saturday's round.
Silver trailed 5-4 going into the seventh inning. Cooper Forbrook led off with a single and scored when Skillings hit a line drive to right field. The ball rolled to the fence and Forbrook's run tied the game at 5-5.
With a Skillings on third and nobody out, USC elected to walk the bases loaded to have a force out at the plate. Berdan missed his chance to lay down the bunt, but later capitalized.
"It was low and away and I fouled it off at the end of my bat, but the catcher caught it, so the ball was in play," Berdan said.?"Michael ran in and he was tagged."
As soon as he hit the ball, he said he knew it was going to be a hit.
"I felt pretty confident on that," Berdan said.?"It felt good coming off [the bat]."
Skillings earned the win in relief. He pitched the final 1 2/3 innings, getting out of a bases-loaded situation in the top of th sixth with one out.
"Well he's probably one of our better, if not our best pitcher, on the team,"?Berdan said.?"I feel like he can throw strikes and he pitched a great game."
Forbrook pitched the first five innings and allowed five hits and five runs. Evan Atzenhoefer came in and retired a batter in the sixth inning before Skillings got out of the bases-loaded jam.
USC scored a single run in the first inning, but New Ulm took the lead in the second inning after Adrean Castillo walked with the bases loaded to score Atzenhoefer. Alex Fischer had an RBI single that scored Jackson Reinarts to make it 2-1.
USC re-took the lead in the top of the third after Cody Latusek drove in two runs on a double, and then went up 5-2 after scoring two more runs in the top of the fifth.
At that point, Silver decided that they wanted to advance through the winner's bracket and the offense picked up.
"We beat them earlier, and our team was just thinking 'we better not lose this game,'" Berdan said.
Fischer and Skillings both scored in the bottom of the fifth to cut the USC lead to 5-4. New Ulm will now face St. James.
"They're a good team, but as I recall, I?think we can play with them," coach Bob Skillings said.?"I'm optimistic that this win will give us a big boost in confidence going into [Friday]."