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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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,