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Amateur Baseball: Elrosa Saints make the plays

Elrosa’s pitching, defense shine on 3-1 state tournament win over Montgomery

Baseball roundup
The Elrosa Saints' Ashton Dingmann slides into home for a run during the second inning of a Class C state amateur baseball playoff game against the Montgomery Mallards on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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FARIBAULT — The Elrosa Saints knew they were capable of better following the Region 15C tournament.

Committing five errors against St. Martin in the region championship and two against Watkins in the second-place game, patching up the defense was a priority prior to the Class C state amateur baseball playoff opener against the Montgomery Mallards.

"We came in locked in and everyone was focused," said shortstop Jackson Peter.

The Saints were stout in the first-round game. Pitcher Payton VanBeck threw a complete game and had a near-spotless defense behind him in a 3-1 victory Saturday at Bell Field.

"Our guys stepped up and made the plays when we needed 'em," VanBeck said. "It's a lot of fun out there when guys do their job like that.

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"We didn't play good defense at all last weekend and it was definitely an emphasis to bounce back this weekend, especially in a game as big as this one."

Elrosa Saints starting pitcher Payton VanBeck lines up a toss during a Class C state amateur baseball playoff game against the Montgomery Mallards on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Elrosa Saints starting pitcher Payton VanBeck lines up a toss during a Class C state amateur baseball playoff game against the Montgomery Mallards on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

With the win, the Saints face the New Ulm Brewers at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 26 at Dundas.

VanBeck was tested right away in the bottom of the first inning when Montgomery had the bases loaded with two outs. But he was able to coax Tom Flicek into an inning-ending groundout.

The Mallards got a runner to third base in the second inning, then got two on in the third. And each time, VanBeck and the Elrosa defense got out of the jam.

"Payton's been like that all summer for us," said Saints manager AJ Hadley. "He really steps up in big-time situations. And that's how we've been as a team; we're a young team but we make plays behind (our pitchers) and get a couple clutch hits here or there."

After getting used to the Bell Field mound, the left-handed VanBeck started to cruise. He finished with six strikeouts with seven hits with two walks allowed.

"By about the fourth, I was very confident we were going to come out with this one," VanBeck said.

Elrosa Saints second baseman Matt Schmitz looks the ball into his glove during a Class C state amateur baseball playoff game against the Montgomery Mallards on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Elrosa Saints second baseman Matt Schmitz looks the ball into his glove during a Class C state amateur baseball playoff game against the Montgomery Mallards on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

And while Elrosa's defense had just one error late, a couple outfield gaffes for the Mallards gave Elrosa the edge it needed.

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In the top of the second, Ashton Dingmann hit a two-out double. The next batter, Peyton Winter, hit a single to the outfield that was bobbled by the fielder. That gave Dingmann enough time to round third and slide safely home for the first run.

The top of the fifth had a similar event. Kevin Kuefler hit a single, then got to second on a stolen base. When Peter belted a ball to center field, it was overplayed on the bounce, giving Kuefler the opening to score for a 2-0 lead.

"That's what our lineup does, there's speed all around the basepaths," Hadley said. "Our goal was to put pressure on the outfielders to make that throw or to make that play. And there were a couple opportunities where the throw was off-line or the guy bobbled the ball in center. We're going to take advantage of that any chance we get."

Will VanBeck added one more run in the eighth, scoring on a wild pitch by reliever Alex Wattermann of the Prior Lake Mudcats.

The Elrosa Saints' Kevin Kuefler, 4, is greeted at the dugout after scoring a run in the fifth inning of a Class C state amateur baseball playoff game against the Montgomery Mallards on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
The Elrosa Saints' Kevin Kuefler, 4, is greeted at the dugout after scoring a run in the fifth inning of a Class C state amateur baseball playoff game against the Montgomery Mallards on Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022 at Bell Field in Faribault.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Montgomery finally got a run in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a Flicek single that plated Cole Pint.

The Mallards threatened one more time in the ninth with the game-tying run on first. But once again, Payton got out of the pickle with a grounder to Peter at shortstop for the final out.

"I think (Payton) knew it was a good idea to keep it on the ground, even though we have a solid outfield," said Peter, who finished 1-for-3. "They rolled over on a lot of his pitches and the infield made the plays."

Elrosa 3, Montgomery 1

Elrosa              010   010   010-3   5   1
Montgomery   000   000   010-1   7   3
Hitting - Elrosa: Kevin Kuefler 1-3 r hbp sb, Jackson Peter 1-3 rbi bb, Ashton Dingmann 1-4 2b r, Peyton Winter 1-4 rbi, Blaine Fischer 1-4, Will VanBeck 0-3 r bb … Montgomery: Cole Pint 1-4 r bb, Ryan Iverson 1-4, Johnny Krocak 1-3 bb, Tom Flicek 1-4 rbi, Dawson Pint 2-4, Aaron Dwyer 1-3
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Elrosa: Payton VanBeck (W) 9-7-1-1-2-6 … Montgomery: Krocak (L) 7-5-3-2-2-6, Alex Wattermann (Prior Lake) 2-0-0-0-0-4

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