Blue Devils clinch a trip to Region 13 baseball tournament

Published 8:36 pm Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Riverland baseball team kept its season alive as it put the finishing touches of a 2-0 win over Central Lakes and went on to win the three-game playoff series with an 8-0 win over CL in Dick Seltz Field Saturday.

The Blue Devils (34-12 overall) led 2-0 in the bottom of the sixth after the first game was shortened by rain on Friday.

Connor Hurst, a freshman from Madison, Wis., struck out three in two scoreless innings to seal the opening win and Hurst pitched a seven-inning shutout while striking out 13 in the closeout game against CL (8-40 overall).

Email newsletter signup

“Normally we don’t leave guys in for that long, and Connor wouldn’t have gone any more than he did, but his pitch count was pretty low and he wanted to finish the game,” RCC head coach Scott Koenigs said.

RCC’s pitchers allowed just one run in the three-game series, but their bats took a little while to get going as they didn’t do any serious offensive damage until they put up seven runs in the first two innings of the clincher.

RCC had won all of its regular season matchups with CL, before it dropped the playoff opener.

“When you’ve beaten a team five times, with four of those wins being soundly, you can get a little confident and a little complacent,” Koenigs said. “It seemed like there wasn’t a lot of desire on Friday, but I saw a little bit more of that on Saturday.

RCC will now play in the eight-team double-elimination Region 13 tournament, which begins Thursday in St. Cloud. RCC will likely enter the tourney as a No. 2 or No. 3 seed and St. Cloud Tech. will likely be the No. 1 seed.

“It’s really a toss up,” Koenigs said. “There won’t be any easy teams and any body can win this thing. The most important thing is to win that firts game.”

If RCC wins the Region 13 tournament, it’ll clinch its third trip to the NJCAA World Series in four years.

RCC 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 — 2 5 1

CL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 1

RCC pitching: Ben Schaben (W), 5 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 5 K; Connor Hurst (S), 2 IP, 0 R, 3 K

RCC hitting: Donte Bledsoe, 0-for-4, SB; Michael Knutson, 0-for-2, BB; Matt Boswell, 1-for-3; Victor Claudio, 0-for-2, BB; Tyler Krekling, 1-for-3; Aaron Palmer, 1-for-3, R; Chris May, 2-for-3, R

CL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 6 1

RCC 4 3 0 1 0 0 X — 8 8 0

RCC pitching: Hurst (W), 7 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 0 R, 13 K

RCC hitting: Bledsoe, 1-for-3, RBI, R; Knutson, 0-for-1, 2 R, BB, HBP; Boswell, 1-for-2, RBI, 2 R, 2 BBs; Braeden Hunkins, 2-for-3, 2 doubles, 3 RBIs, R, BB; Krekling, 2-for-3, RBI, R, HBP; Palmer, R, 2 HBP, BB