SLEEPY EYE - There were a lot of big plays by New Ulm Gold in their Sub-State D-I winner's bracket game against Mankato National Saturday in Sleepy Eye.
There was a two-run home run by Chase Meyer in the fouth inning that gave New Ulm Gold a 4-0 lead.
There was shortstop Judd Davis' defensive play in the bottom of the inning that cut down Shane Sellner at third after he led off the top of that inning with a double.
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Legion Gold’s Tanner Kluis hits a two-run home-run during Gold’s playoff win against Mankato National Saturday in Sleepy Eye.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
Add to that a Tanner Kluis two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth that broke a 4-4 tie and Nate Palmer's pitching performance in the bottom of the inning working out of a bases-loaded situation and not allowing a run.
But the biggest play of the game came last.
Grant Kannegiesser's leaping catch and ensuing tag of Steve Nessler at home plate on a throw from second baseman Collin Helget preserved a 7-6 win over National.
Palmer got the win in relief of Helget, who went seven innings and was charged with four runs. Nick Dewanz got the save, allowing two runs in the ninth.
Ryan Theissen took the loss for Mankato. He was charged with all seven runs in his 7 2/3 innings of work. Nessler had two hits for Mankato.
Kluis and Chase Meyer each had three hits for Gold with Kluis driving in three runs Meyer driving in two.
New Ulm Gold, now 24-7, will play at 12:30 p.m. Sunday in Sleepy Eye and would have to lose twice to be denied a trip to the Minnesota State American Legion Baseball Tournament in Eagan.
"There were a lot of grey hairs today for both coaches," New Ulm Gold coach Jeremy Drexler said. "Overall, I thought that Collin (Helget) threw pretty well - he just had that one bad inning. Nate (Palmer) did not have an easy inning but he battled through it and the same for Nick (Dewanz). And we gor a couple of clutch hits from Tanner (Kluis) and Chase (Meyer)."
Mankato and National were tied going into the bottom of the eighth when Gold used the long ball for the second time in the game.
Davis led off the inning with a walk before Kluis drilled a Theissen offering over the fence in left-center field for a 6-4 Gold lead.
Meyer and Dewanz followed with base hits ended Theissen's day. Josh Cook took over and promptly hit Helget to load the bases. Meyer then scored on a fielder's choice.
But Mankato rallied in the top of the ninth off of Dewanz when Cook reached on an error by Helget and Shane Sellner doubled to plate Cook. Sellner then came home on a Nessler triple to pull Mankato to within 7-6 with one our. Theissen followed with a groundball to Helget at second, who threw high to Kannegiesser. Kannegiesser was able to pull the throw down and tag out Nessler. Devin Ries then flew out to end the game.
"All over, this was just a great baseball game," Drexler said. "If they (Mankato) play that well I am sure that we will see them today."
Gold jumped to leads of 2-0 in the first on a Kluis RBI single and a fielder's choice before adding two more in the fourth when Kannegiesser reached on an error. Meyer put a jolt into a Theissen offering, depositing it over the fence in left-center.
But National did something in the top of the seventh that no team had done to Gold in the first 24 innings of the tournament -score runs.
Nessler singled and Theissen reached on an error at third by Brach Kraus. A sacrifice bunt and a Ben Kleist base hit scored Nessler. Kevin Marzoff's base hit and a Jayme Munsterman double cut the lead to 4-3. Cook's groundball scored Marzoff to tie the game.
"It happened fast," Drexler said. "But this team has been resilient all year."
Drexler said that home runs have not been something that his team has done this season.
"We have not had a home run since the Grand Rapids Tournament six weeks ago," Drexler said. "We had two there and two today. Chase had been going through a slump and he really stung the ball three times today Tanner had 15 singles this year so this is his first so this is his first extra base hit which could not have come at a better time."
Drexler said that he will have Gabe Knowles start on Sunday.