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Amateur baseball: A fine season for Bird Island Bullfrogs

Bird Island wraps up the state Class C tournament with a 3-2 loss to Watertown after beating Red Wing 1-0 in 13 innings

Bird Island's Aidan Elfering high-fives his teammates during pre-game intros during a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game against Red Wing on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Bird Island's Aidan Elfering high-fives his teammates during pre-game intros during a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game against Red Wing on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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FARIBAULT — Taken as a whole, it was a memorable year for the Bird Island Bullfrogs.
They advanced farther than they ever have in the state Class C amateur baseball tournament, making it to the quarterfinals for the first time in the Mike Nagel era.
They played three intense, well-played, one-run games. And they all know they could have gone farther.
"It's a great team and I love them to death," said Nagel, the Bullfrogs' manager.
Bird Island's 2022 season ended Sunday with a 3-2 loss to the Watertown Red Devils at Bell Field. It came after the Bullfrogs beat the Red Wing Aces 1-0 in 13 innings Saturday. And that was after a 3-2 win over the Loretto Larks on Aug. 28 in Dundas. That game went a state-tournament-record 21 innings.
For a team in its fourth straight state tournament appearance and ninth since 1951, it's an impressive showing.

Bird Island manager Mike Nagel addresses his players during a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game against Red Wing on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Bird Island manager Mike Nagel addresses his players during a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game against Red Wing on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Sunday, the Bullfrogs got a gutty pitching performance from Jared Dettman, who left in the sixth inning having given Bird Island a 2-1 lead. The left-hander struck out six, walked four and allowed five hits and one run.
He gave way to Atwater Chuckers right-hander Kobe Holtz, who closed the sixth, then ran into trouble in the seventh after getting the win in Saturday's game. In came Bird Island's other draftee, Josh Kingery, who went nine innings Saturday. He gave up a cluple of base hits, then got two straight strikeouts. He pitched a spotless eighth, then gave way to Casey Lewandowski, who threw a one-two-three ninth.
Nagel was praised his draft picks, which included Adam Schrader of the New London-Spicer Twins, a former San Diego Padre farmhand and Ridgewater College's pitching coach.
"They did a tremendous job," Nagel said. "And Adam Schrader did a great job handling our pitching staff like the pro he is. ...
"He's forgotten more about pitching than I know."
Offensively, Sunday's game was emblematic of Bird Island's entire tournament. The Bullfrogs struggled to score runs.
They got two runs in the bottom of the first against Watertown, getting three hits. That's exactly one more hit than Bird Island had in its 13-inning win over Red Wing.

Bird Island first baseman Tyler Hebrink snags the ball while Red Wing's Mitch Matter looks to avoid the tag during a pickoff throw in a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Bird Island first baseman Tyler Hebrink snags the ball while Red Wing's Mitch Matter looks to avoid the tag during a pickoff throw in a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Tyler Hebrink had an RBI single and Dylan Gass drew a bases-loaded walk. Trent Athmann had a bunt single and Logan Swan also singled in the inning.
Nagel lamented the fact they didn't punch a couple more runs in the inning.
But after that, Watertown right-hander Holt Hunziker dominated. At one point, he retired 13 straight batters. He struck out seven, walked two and allowed six hits total over seven innings.
"I felt pretty good," Hunziker said. "I wish I could take back that first inning, though."
Bird Island got a couple runners on in the sixth, got one runner to second in the seventh and did so gain in the eighth on a Logan Swann double. Gass led off the ninth with a single, but Red Devils right-hander Matt Butler, a former St. Cloud State player, got three straight outs for the save.

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Craig Michael Van Dam, 41, was sentenced to 60 months in prison for a single felony charge of driving while impaired. A Renville County jury found him guilty in August. The charge stemmed from a traffic stop in Olivia after Van Dam was seen speeding through Bird Island in July 2021. During a pursuit, Van Dam hit speeds over 110 mph. A subsequent search of his vehicle yielded a glass pipe and a prescription bottle with suspected marijuana buds.
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Nagel talked about his team not taking anything for granted and working hard over the winter in order to to get back to state. But he also stressed enjoying the moment.
"You never know if you'll ever get to this point again," he said.
Kingery wound up being named the outstanding pitcher of the 99th annual tournament. it's called the Mike Davison Most Outstanding Pitcher Award and it comes after the 19-year-old left-hander threw 22-2/3 innings, allowing 13 hits and two earned runs in three appearances. He struck out 30 and walked three. He also was a member of the all-tournament team.

Atwater draftee Josh Kingery fires off a pitch for Bird Island during a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game against Red Wing on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Atwater draftee Josh Kingery fires off a pitch for Bird Island during a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game against Red Wing on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

The Nisswa Lightning ended up winning the state title, beating the Buckman Billygoats 12-3 in the final Monday. Both teams are from Region 8C and are members of the Victory League, which has won six state titles and taken second four times in the past 23 years, dating back to Buckman's 1999 state championship.
Nisswa's Nate DeChaine won the Fred Roufs MVP Award, going 3-0 on the mound with a 2.93 ERA. He also slugged three home runs.
Noah Boser of Buckman won the MaxBat Maple Slugger Award, batting .520 (13 of 25) with two home runs and an .880 slugging percentage.
And, Avery Liestman, a draft pick of the Delano Athletics from Litchfield, was named to the all-tournament team.
The 2023 state tournament, which will be the 100th for the Minnesota Baseball Association, takes place in Delano, Dassel and Litchfield.

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Watertown 3, Bird Island 2

Watertown    001   000   200-3   8   0
Bird Island      200   000   000-2   8   1
Hitting - Watertown: Patrick Tschida 2-5 , Matt Butler 0-3 bb, Ben Smith 0-3 r bb hbp, Zach Iten 1-5 rbi, Ryan Hangartner 1-2 rbi bb-2, Mitch Kelzer 1-3 bb, Jackson Meyer 1-1, Ben Theisen 1-3 r hbp, Jadrien Keavy 1-4 … Bird Island: Trent Athmann 1-4 r sb, Shawn Dollerschell 1-3 r bb, Logan Swann 2-3 2b sac, Tyler Hebrink 1-4 rbi sac, Aidan Elfering 1-4, Dylan Gass 1-3 rbi bb, Nic Taylor 1-2, Jared Dettman 0-3 sac

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Watertown: Holt Hunziker (W) 7-6-2-2-2-7, Butler (Sv) 2-2-0-0-0-3 … Bird Island: Jared Dettmann 5.2-5-1-1-4-6, Kobe Holtz (Atwater, L) 0.2-1-2-2-1-0, Josh Kingery (Atwater) 1.2-2-0-0-0-2, Casey Lewandowski 1-0-0-0-0-1

Bird Island's Logan Swann is interviewed following the Bullfrogs' 13-inning win over Red Wing during a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Bird Island's Logan Swann is interviewed following the Bullfrogs' 13-inning win over Red Wing during a Class C state amateur baseball tournament game on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Bird Island 1, Red Wing 0

Logan Swann hit a walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the 13th inning to lead Bird Island to the state quarterfinals Saturday at Faribault.
"It was my second opportunity of the game and we had about six opportunities to score," said Swann, the Bullfrogs' left fielder. "With two strikes, I was just trying to put the bat on the ball.
"I was not a great swing, but a great result."

Red Wing    000   000   000   000   0-0   5   1
Bird Island     000   000   000   000   1-1   2   1
Hitting - Red Wing: Mitch Matter 1-6, Marcus Walm 2-5, Dixon Irwin 1-4 hbp, Teddy Tauer 0-4 bb, Josh Thygesen 1-4 bb, Aaron Johnson 0-0 sac  … Bird Island: Braeden Tersteeg 1-4 bb sac sb, Trent Athmann 0-5 r sac sb, Shawn Dollerschell 0-3 bb-3, Logan Swann 1-5 rbi bb sb, Tyler Hebrink 0-4 bb sb, Aidan Elfering 0-4 bb, Dylan Gass 0-4 bb, Zeke Walton 0-4 hbp, Jared Detmann 0-4 bb 
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Red Wing: Ben Kuehni 5.2-0-0-0-5-4, Brady Schroeder (L) 7-2-1-1-4-6 … Bird Island: Josh Kingery 9-5-0-0-0-15, 

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