Amateur Baseball: State-bound NLS Twins not satisfied
SPICER -- New London-Spicer secured its spot in the Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament last week, but that's "not good enough" for the Twins. NLS didn't go into the Region 15C tourney as a league champion, but the Twins beat Spring Hill 12...
SPICER - New London-Spicer secured its spot in the Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament last week, but that’s “not good enough” for the Twins.
NLS didn’t go into the Region 15C tourney as a league champion, but the Twins beat Spring Hill 12-4 and St. Martin 2-0 last weekend in Roscoe to assure themselves a spot in the state tournament that starts next Friday in Cold Spring and Watkins.
The Twins, who fell 10-3 to the Atwater Chuckers in the County Line League championship, haven’t pieced together a winning streak longer than three games this season, but they also haven’t lost more than two games in a row.
“This year we have been very up and down, which isn’t the worst thing because you don’t want to peak too early,” said NLS coach Jamie Scheevel. “Right now we are playing some of our best baseball of the year.”
The Twins have to win two more games this weekend to achieve their goal of getting a first-round bye at the state tournament. Their first step is beating a tough New Munich team today in the winner’s bracket final that starts at 7:30 p.m. in Paynesville.
The winner will then play on Sunday in Roscoe at noon in the championship game; a second game would follow if necessary. The NLS/New Munich loser will have to play Sunday morning at 9:30 a.m. in Roscoe against the winner of the elimination-bracket title game (Lake Henry/Roscoe winner vs. Elrosa/Spring Hill winner).
In simpler terms, whoever loses tonight would have to win three times on Sunday in order to go into state as the region champion.
“We have clinched a spot in state, but we really want the No. 1 seed out of our region,” said Scheevel, who has been the Twins’ manager since 2008. “Just getting to play in the state tournament isn’t good enough for these guys. They see that we are two games away from getting the No. 1 seed and that is driving the guys.”
The last time NLS qualified for state was in 2012 when it claimed the Region 15C title with a 14-inning win over Richmond.
NLS (16-11) has the offense to win the region. In their 16 wins the Twins have outscored the opposition by a combined 83 runs and averaged nearly 10 runs a game, scoring 10 or more runs in 11 of those wins. New Munich is 13-9 and has reached double digits in runs just once.
“New Munich is a team that has been in regions several times, so their guys know what it takes to win games,” said Scheevel.
The Twins have eight regulars that are hitting over .300, paced by Ryan Vraa’s batting average of .368. Scott Rambow has a team-high 119 plate appearances and sports an average of .354, along with team-high percentages in slugging (.500) and on base (.479).
Jake Rambow, who Scheevel said has been the Twins’ most consistent hitter this season, is hitting .341. Both Rambows also share the team lead in extra-base hits (10) and RBIs (22).
Also hitting over .300 is Austin Rambow (.329), Jordan Ackerman (.321), Andrew Bangen (.318), Ben Kulset (.310) and Kevin Soine (.301).
“We do have games where our top of the order isn’t producing, but our bottom of the order picks it up for them,” said Scheevel.
NLS doesn’t possess the strongest of pitching staffs, but it does enough to back the team’s potent offense. Patrick Courtney is a team-best 4-2 with a team-high 47.2 innings pitched. Regal-draftee Austen Hadley “threw the game of the year” against St. Martin last Saturday - a complete-game shutout with five strikeouts and no walks - to get the Twins off on the right foot.
“What keeps us together is everyone gets along with each other,” said Scheevel. “We just don’t see each other at games, we also hang out with each other outside of baseball. The main core of our team has been together a while now, but we have also added some new guys through the past years.”
“It’s going to be fun again to play the Friday night game. We played in it in 2012 and the crowd was amazing, and we are expecting it to have a similar atmosphere.”
Last week the region, which annually draws the most fans amongst the state’s 16 regions, had a paid attendance of 2,286 for eight games.