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Legion Baseball: Kerkhoven edges NLS

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Joe Buck of the Kerkhoven Cubs steps on home plate with the game-winning run in a District 7, Division II Region 2 playoff game against New London-Spicer Thursday in Kerkhoven. Buck scored on Jessie Engler's grounder down the first-base line. The New London-Spicer catcher is Grant Vagle.

KERKHOVEN -- Jessie Engler went hitless but had the key at bat as the Kerkhoven Cubs scored twice in the bottom of the seventh inning to catapult past the New London-Spicer Legion 3-2 on Thursday evening at Saints Field.

With the bases loaded and one out, Engler, who was 0-for-4 officially, sent a one-out dribbler down the first-base line.

Joe Buck, off on contact, scored standing up from third with the game-ending run.

That ended a fine pitching duel between the visitor's Tanner Thundstedt and the Cubs' Austen Bowman.

Both teams advance to playoffs' next round at Spicer of District 7, Division II Region 2. NLS plays at 11 a.m. and Kerkhoven (9-5) at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Another loss for NLS knocks them out of the postseason.

Thundstedt and polished defense kept Kerkhoven off the board until the sixth inning when the Cubs got a break on their sunbaked home field. Aaren Glesne, after whipping two foul balls down the third base line, smashed a sinking liner to left. The ball high-hopped over the head outfielder Steven Ammerman and to the fence allowing Brendan Hjelle to score easily from second. Hjelle had reached on a hit-by-pitch and advanced on a failed pickoff attempt.

The run tied the game 1-1. NLS went up again 2-1 in the top of the seventh on Lucas Nordmeyer's infield single to deep short that scored Tanner Tobkin. But Bowman escaped the bases-loaded predictiment by getting leadoff Ryan Vraa on a foul pop to catcher Kyle "Dusty" Baker.

Vraa singled to start the game and came home on a bases-loaded sac fly for a 1-0 lead that held through five innings.

Thundstedt got in trouble in the seventh when he hit Baker and Buck with one out. Bowman walked to load the bases. Baker scored to tie the game when Hjelle's grounder up the middle was mishandled for an error.

Engler followed with his ground ball RBI.

Thundsted gave up just three hits and fanned eight but walked five and hit four batters. Bowman finished with a four-hitter. He walked four and whiffed four.

Kerkhoven 3, NLS 2

NL-Spicer 100 000 1 -- 2 4 1

Kerkhoven 000 001 2 -- 3 3 1

HITTING - New London-Spicer: Ryan Vraa 1-for-4, run; Nick Bergeson 1-for-2, Tanner Tobkin 0-for-1, run, SF rbi; Grant Vagle 1-for-3, Lucas Nordmeyer 1-for-3, rbi ... Kerkhoven: Kyle Baker 1-for-1, 2 bb, 2 sb, run; Jessie Engler 0-for-4, rbi; Arren Glesne 2-for-3. 2b. rbi

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- New London-Spicer: Tanner Thundstedt (L) 6Xc- 3-3-2-5-8 ... Kerkhoven: Ausein Bowman (W) 7-4- 2-2-4-4