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Rebels use defense to beat Wabasha/Kellogg in Section 1A baseball semifinal

ROCHESTER — From the first play of the game, the Rebels defense showed it meant business and that trend continued as Southland topped Wabasha/Kellogg 4-2 in the Section 1A baseball semifinals at Hudson Field in Rochester Monday.

Southland (20-4 overall) took the lead for good in the third inning when Alan May, doubled, stole third and trotted home when W/K threw the ball away at third base. May tied the game in the bottom of the first when he scored on a two-out single up the middle by Connor Mielke.

“I really didn’t focus on my hitting today,” said May, who pitched a four-hitter in seven innings on the mound. “I just wanted to focus on pitching and if I got the hits, that would be great.”

Southland’s defense started rolling right away when W/K’s Ben Edelbach ripped a shot down the left field line to lead off the game and Adam Kiefer laid out and pulled in a diving grab.

Kiefer’s catch saved at least one run as W/K’s Jordan Dick tripled and scored later in the first inning.

The catch by Kiefer was just one of four great plays by the Rebel defense in the win. Second baseman Grant Hegge made a diving catch in shallow right to start the second inning and Chris May made a sliding catch in center to end the second. The biggest play came in the fifth when Southland third baseman Trevor Emanuel made a scoop at third, fired to second for one out and Hegge fired to first to convert a double play.

“The defense made every play that was asked of them,” Alan May said. “All of the credit goes to them and (catcher) Clint (Bergene) caught a pretty good game.”

Southland took a 4-1 lead in the fifth when Chris May doubled down the left field line with two outs to score Hegge, who led off the frame with an infield single. W/K (19-4 overall) pulled to within 4-2 when Holden Hartet blasted a solo home run over the left field fence in the sixth with one out.

W/K’s Eric Sandstrom doubled with two outs in the sixth, but Alan May struck out Hunter Baab to end the Falcons’ last scoring threat.

“It was about the game I thought it would be,” Southland head coach Scott Retterath said. “Alan and Eric Sandstrom are both very good pitchers and they both did well.”

Southland will play in the Section 1A title game against either W/K or Randolph (19-5 overall) Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in Hudson Field. If Southland wins, it will go to state tournament, if it loses, it will play for a trip to state Thursday.

Retterath said he will go with either Chris May on two days rest or Mitch Nagele on the hill. Last year, Southland was in this same situation, but it lost two straight to W/K and had its season end.

“(W/K) is a very, very good team and we’ll probably see them tomorrow,” Alan May said. “We’ve got to be hungry this year. We can’t do what we did last year and be lackadaisical. We’ve got to want that trophy.”

W/K 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 2 4 0

Southland 1 0 1 1 1 0 X — 4 6 1

Southland pitching: Alan May (W), 7 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 2 ER, 5 K

Southland hitting: Alan May, 2-for-3, double, 2 R, SB; Adam Kiefer, 0-for-3; Chris May, 1-for-2, double, RBI, SB, BB; Connor Mielke, 1-for-3, RBI; Mitch Nagele, 0-for-3; Clint Bergene, 1-for-2, double, R, HBP; Mitch Heimer, 0-for-3; Trevor Emanuel, 0-for-2; Grant Hegge, 1-for-2, R, SB

W/K pitching: Eric Sandstrom (L), 6 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 K, HBP

W/K hitting: Ben Edelbach, 0-for-3; Jordan Dick, 1-for-2, triple, BB; Holden Hartet, 1-for-3, HR, RBI; Zach Wolfe, 1-for-3, RBI; Sandstrom, 1-for-3, double; Hunter Baab, 0-for-3; Scott Klees, 0-for-2, BB; Will Greeheck, 0-for-2