NEW ULM - While all of the scoring in New Ulm Legion Gold's game with Mankato came in the fourth inning, the two biggest plays in the game came in the second and ninth innings by Gold's defense.
Chase Meyer's throw home nailed Ian Schwickert, who was trying to score on a Tyler Stoffel sacrifice fly for the final out of the fourth inning. Later, a relay from leftfielder Drew Pfaff to shortstop Jordan Guggisberg to third baseman Jacob Gieseke cut down Devin Ries in the top of the ninth.
Both plays saved a run and potentially saved another. Add those two together and they were the difference maker in a 4-2 Gold win over the Nationals.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Legion Gold’s Tanner Kluis slides safely into home as Sleepy Eye catcher Mike Hirsch reaches for the ball during Gold’s playoff win Saturday at Johnson Park in New Ulm.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Jory Dove got the win for New Ulm (24-7). He pitched nine innings and scattered eight hits while fanning six.
Zach Mullin took the season-ending loss for Mankato.
Tanner Kluis had a double for New Ulm, who was out-hit by Mankato 8-5.
The win means that New Ulm will face Worthington (17-5) at noon Sunday at Johnson Park. Gold needs one win to capture the Sub-State 2 championship. A loss in the first game would mean a second game for the title.
"Those were two great defensive plays," said coach Bob Weier about the two relay throws for outs. "Games come down to good pitching, making the plays defensively, getting clutch hits and the team that is probably going to win the game will make one or two great plays. That was evident tonight."
Both teams put runs on the board in the fourth inning.
The Nationals took a 2-0 lead in the top of the inning when Evan Ellingworth reached on an infield single and Dove walked Schwickert. A Ries' base hit scored Ellingworth before Schwickert trotted home on a Stoffel RBI single.
But Gold got to Mullin for four runs in the bottom of the inning.
Brach Kraus reached on an error before Grant Kannegiesser singled. Chase Meyer followed with a base hit to load the bases.
Tanner Kluis lined a shot down the left field line for a two-run double. Meyer scored on a wild pitch with Kluis racing home on a bloop single from Jacob Gieseke.
"They took that 2-0 lead and we cam right back and scored four runs," Weier said. "We hit the ball solid that inning. And we made some very nice plays."
And Dove really settled down after that fourth inning. He allowed just three hits.
"Jory did a excellent job," Weier said. "He was a little rusty in the beginning but he got strong after we got him that lead. He did an excellent job. He had a lot of small pitch innings. And we beat a lefthander I think for the first time all summer."
Despite the win, Weier said that he is surprised by the set-up of the tournament.
"It does not appear to me that getting the getting the number one seed was an advantage at all for us. In fact it might have been a disadvantage. We played a couple of ballgames that probably were meaningless and we burned up two pitchers. We will see what happens (today)."
New Ulm got to the title game with a 10-0 win over Sleepy Eye.
The game was stopped after eight innings because of the 10-run lead rule.
Nick Dewanz got the win for Gold. He struck out three and allowed just two hits. John Mangen took the loss for Sleepy Eye. He was charged with four runs in 3 2/3 innings. Sleepy Eye had five errors in the game, two of them coming in a four run Gold eighth inning.
Tim Kehren had three hits.
"Nick had another good pitching performance," Weier said. "I think he walked his first two batters of the summer today. He got stronger as time went on."
New Ulm led 1-0 after the first before scoring three runs in the bottom of the fourth on a Guggisberg groundout and a Kraus hit and ensuing error.
Gold added two more runs in the sixth on a groundout and a Kannegiesser double.
New Ulm then ended the game with four runs in the eighth.