SHAKOPEE - A change in focus was all New Ulm VFW Gold needed to keep its season alive.
One day after getting shut out by host Shakopee and managing one hit in the process, Gold belted 11 hits and turned it around with a 4-2 victory against Arlington in Southeast Subdistrict play on Friday at Stemmer Field in Shakopee.
"Today with our backs against the wall, we came out with a little better focus," said Gold coach Derek Wilfahrt. "They made good contact; they hit the ball, made good things happen and scored some runs."
The teams traded blows but were unable to pin any runs on the board in the first three innings, during which Gold notched four hits.
Cooper Forbrook was poised to score Gold's first run, but was thrown out on a 1-2 pitch after attempting to steal second base during Cole Wellmann's at-bat. The out call was protested but was not overturned by the officials.
Three pitches later, Wellmann belted a shot deep into the right corner for a triple with two outs. Spencer Landsteiner, courtesy running for Wellmann, was then driven in by Bayler Kraus for a 1-0 lead.
Arlington retaliated with one run of its own in the bottom of the fourth off a suicide squeeze bunt by Cody Voight that allowed Collin Pautsch to score from third.
After a single and a stolen base by Cooper Yackley led off the top of the fifth inning, J.T. Hoffmann put himself in scoring position by advancing to second off a single of his own.
"I saw that they weren't really looking when they got the ball in," Hoffmann said. "They were kind of slacking so I was like, 'I'll take the base.'"
Hoffmann's speed paid off for Gold, giving E.J. Berdan and Nick Fischer the space with no outs to bat them in for a 3-1 Gold lead.
"Every time he's up if he hits a groundball to the shortstop or second baseman, it's a hit," Wilfahrt said of Hoffmann. "He was thrown out today for the first time all year, but that's because he thought the ball was hit in the air. A guy with his speed? Yeah, we use it all the time. It's lethal."
A.J. Lassas got the win in going the distance for Gold, giving up five hits and one earned with four strikeouts. The defense was solid behind Lassas, committing just one error all game.
Mitch Mathews gave up nine hits and three earned in four innings of work getting the loss for Arlington.
Hoffmann was 3-for-4 with one run scored, Yackley was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Kraus was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Gold will play the Sleepy Eye 15s, who eliminated the Hutchinson 15s in a 6-5 nine-inning game on Friday, at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday at Stemmer Field. The winner will advance to Sunday's championship round, where it will need two victories to advance to districts.
"We've played Sleepy Eye twice, but playoffs are just a different animal," Wilfahrt said. "You've got to execute, you've got to get bunts down, you've got to get clutch hits, you've got to have good pitching, you've got to play good D. So if any team does that, they have a chance."
N.U. Gold 000 120 1 - 4 11 1
Arlington 000 110 0 - 2 5 1
Lassas and Wellmann; Mathews, Jorgensen (5) and Jorgensen, Voight (5).
W - Lassas (G) 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 91 P
L - Mathews (A) 4 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 60 P
Leading hitters - N.U. Gold: Yackley 2-4 2 R, Hoffmann 3-4 1 R, Wellmann 1-3 3B, Kraus 2-3 1 RBI; Arlington: Jorgensen 1-4 1 R, Pautsch 2-3 1 RBI 1 R 2B, Fredin 1-3.