WILLMAR - Willmar's Section 6AAA opener Tuesday was an old-fashioned pitchers' duel that needed 11 innings to decide the winner.
For the second time this season, Willmar's Drey Dirksen outdueled Delano's Cade Lommel in a 3-2 win. The game ended on a bases-loaded hit by pitch in the bottom of the 11th.
Dirksen struck out 12 batters in eight innings of work but it was Bryan Weidemann who earned the win after three scoreless innings in relief. He kept the Tigers scoreless in each of the extra innings, paving the way for a Willmar win.
Dirksen was electric for most of the game. In addition to his 12 strikeouts, he only walked one and scattered seven hits in eight innings.
"That was a pretty big senior moment for Drey," DeBoer said.
Lommel, a Creighton University commit, was also nearly unhittable, striking out 12 in seven innings with three hits and two walks.
Willmar will advance to take on the top-seeded Waconia Wildcats Thursday in Waconia.
Caleb Owens kicked off the bottom of the 11th inning with a double to left field but Delano relief pitcher Max Otto got two quick pop outs, making the 12th inning look like a strong possibility. Due to pitch count, though, reliever Mike Weber replaced Otto and walked the bases loaded, setting up a Jayden Dierenfeld at-bat with the bases loaded and two outs.
Dierenfeld pushed a 3-1 count before he was hit by a pitch to win the game.
"Delano played really well, their pitchers were really good but we pitched really well, too," said Willmar head coach Tom DeBoer. "Our defense was really good, Asthon (Gregory) made a couple of nice plays at the end of the game at third base for us. It's always fun to win a game like that."
Willmar earned the first lead of the game when Jack Roehl, running for Gregory, scored on a Gunnar Banks ground ball in the fourth inning. But Delano responded with two runs in the ensuing inning, thanks to a pair of weakly hit RBI singles, including one from Lommel.
Owens drove in Wade Fischer in the fifth inning to tie things up and that's where the score remained until the 11th inning.
Owens proved to be a driving force with two of the Cardinals' five hits.
Willmar 3, Delano 2
Delano 000 020 000 00-2 8 0
Willmar 000 110 000 01-3 5 2
Hitting - Delano: Cade Lommel 2-3 rbi, Max Otto 1-5 r, Chris Glunz 0-4 r, Oran Hinkle 1-5, Mike Weber 2-5, Cade Bruett 2-4 rbi ... Willmar: Caleb Owens 2-5 rbi r, Ashton Gregory 1-4 r, Andy Schultz 1-5, Gunnar Banks 0-4 rbi, Jayden Dierenfeld 0-3 rbi, Wade Fischer 1-2 r
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Delano: Lommel 7-3-2-1-2-12, Max Otto 3.2-2-1-1-0-2, Mike Weber 0-0-0-0-2-0 ... Willmar: Drey Dirksen 8-7-2-2-1-12, Bryan Weidemann (W) 3-1-0-0-0-3