Rebels rally their way to another Section 1A championship appearance

Published 6:46 pm Saturday, June 1, 2024

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The No. 1 seeded Southland baseball team won its fourth straight elimination game when it started fast and beat No. 4 Hayfield (17-8 overall) 9-1 in a Section 1A elimination game in Seltz Field Saturday.

The Rebels (21-2 overall) scored six times in the top of the first inning to take an early lead and senior Travis Kirtz did the rest of the work as he pitched four hitless innings before surrendering a run in the fifth. 

“I made sure my arm was healthy and ready to go before the game and I stuck to my mechanics like I have all year,” Kirtz said. “My last couple of outings haven’t been the best and I was due for a good outing. I’m super proud of this team coming back after losing in the second round. Now we’re in the section championship for the third year in a row.”

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Southland had a slight advantage as Hayfield was coming off a tough 2-1 loss to Lyle-Pacelli, where a couple of  late miscues proved costly for the Vikings.

“That’s the nature of the tournament. For them to have to come back and play after a throw into the outfield by a really good catcher, it was a good time to play them. You could see them kind of hanging their heads down and then we got out to a fast start,” Southland head coach Scott Koenigs said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity this year. We have four guys out with knee injuries and Gavin Nelsen played through the flu today. I’m proud of how our guys took care of business.”

Despite losing their second game of the tournament as a top-seed, the Rebels haven’t backed down. Kirtz said the team has been confident throughout the whole postseason.

“We knew we’ve got the squad to do it,” Kirtz said. “We knew we could make it and we thought this was going to be our year to do it. Hopefully we can get it done on Tuesday.”

Southland beat No. 10 Rushford-Peterson (10-15 overall) 3-0 to start the day.

Kirtz stayed under 75 pitches on Saturday, which means he is good to throw on Tuesday against LP. The Athletics beat Southland in the Section 1A championship last season and the teams split their regular season series this year.

“We’re confident with our guys. Travis and Tyson (Stevens) have been our No. 2 and No. 3 guys all year and that’s who we’re going to throw,” Koenigs said. “We know we’ll see (Isaac) Nelsen and (Dane) Schara from them. It’s not going to be a surprise. We know them and they know us. It’s just going to come down to throwing strikes and making plays.” 

Southland 0 6 0  0 0 0  3  –  9  9  2

Hayfield 0 0 0  0 1 0  0  –  1  1  2

Southland pitching: Travis Kirtz (W) 5 2/3 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 5 K; Tyson Stevens, 1 1/3 IP, 1 BB, 0 R, 1 K

Southland hitting: Gavin Nelsen, 1-for-4, RBI, R, BB; Tyson Stevens, 1-for-4, double, RBI, R, BB; Kirtz, 0-for-2, BB, HBP; Austin Swenson, 1-for-3,2 RBIs; Jonas Wiste, 2-for-3, RBI, 2 R, BB; Beau Sathre, 1-for-4, double, 2 RBIs; Riley Jax, 2-for-4, RBI, R; Maverick Hanna, 1-for-2, BB, HBP; Landon Hill, 0-for-2, RBI, R, 2 HBPs

Hayfield pitching: Eric Bermea (L) 2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 R, HBP; Ben Nelson, 5 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 3 R, 2 K, 3 HBP

Hayfield hitting: Hunter Simonson, 0-for-3; Aidan Nelson, 0-for-2, BB; Berema, 0-for-3; Isaac Nelson, 0-for-3; Corbin Krueger, 0-for-1, R, SB, 2 BBs; Rylan Nelsen, 1-for-3; Kael Steele, 0-for-2, RBI; Nic Larsen, 0-for-2; Jack Thoe, 0-for-2