Baseball: Ridgewater heads to the Super Regional
The Warriors stay alive by winning two elimination games Saturday in St. Cloud. They beat Riverland 11-1 in five innings, then stunned Century 13-12 in 10 innings. The Super Regional begins Thursday in St. Cloud. At stake is a World Series berth.
ST. CLOUD — Tyler Hebrink thought a great accomplishment in his first season would be to finish strong and earn a regional berth.
Another beyond that would be exceptional.
It’s safe to say that things went exceptionally well for the Ridgewater baseball team over the weekend.
The Warriors won two elimination games to secure a berth in this week’s Super Regional in St. Cloud.
Ridgewater beat Riverland 11-1 in five innings, then stunned Century 13-12 in 10 innings to advance.
The Warriors (16-18) did it despite playing their first games in three years and being the No. 7 seed in the 10-team Region XIII tournament.
“That’s just it right there,” said Hebrink, Ridgewater’s head coach. “When the seedings came out, right after we’d beaten Riverland three out of four, Riverland got a higher seed than us.
“I think a lot of the guys were really upset about that. A couple of teams had us seeded No. 8 or No. 9 in the region. That’s all the guys needed.”
Ridgewater advances as the second seed out of the region. Central Lakes College is the first seed. The Warriors play Rochester, the top seed from the south, on Thursday at the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex. CLC plays St. Cloud Technical & Community College also on Thursday in the double-elimination tournament. Game times have yet to be announced.
At stake is a berth in the NJCAA Division III World Series at Pioneer Park in Greeneville, Tennessee.
Against Riverland, Ridgewater had 11 hits, including a two-run homer from No. 9 hitter Reece Schwirtz and a 3-for-4 performance from Brad Bickmann, who also got the pitching win.
In the Century game, Ridgewater fell behind 12-7 before rallying. The Warriors scored a run in the seventh, four in the ninth to tie it and another in the 10th to win.
“We knew it would be a slugfest,” Hebrink said.
Bickmann, Tyler Traphagen, Seth Resnick and Nolan Spence all had three hits for the Warriors. Bennett Knapper slugged a home run for Ridgewater. The freshman from Granite Falls went 2-for-4 with two walks, three runs and an RBI.
“There’s something about this team,” said Hebrink, who was hired in the fall of 2019 only to see the 2020 and ‘21 seasons canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve played in the junior college world series and coached in it (as an assistant in St. Cloud). And I can tell you I’ve never been with a team that has had better chemistry or been so close. It’s really been a pleasure. They truly enjoy being around one another, even when things get tough. They fight hard for each other.”
The victory came against a Century College squad that is coached by former Ridgewater head coach Dwight Kotila, who led the Warriors to the World Series before starting the baseball program at the college located in White Bear Lake.
Ridgewater 11, Riverland 1
Riverland 000 10-1 5 1
Ridgewater 320 06-11 11 0
Hitting - Riverland: Drew Copley 1-3 2b, Jeremy Vega 0-2 bb, Jose Lopez 1-2 r 2b, Jeremy Protela 1-2, Evan Hubatch 0-1 bb, Jake Bryant 2-2 rbi … Ridgewater: Tyler Traphagen 2-2 r-2 rbi-2 bb-2 2b, Brad Bickmann 3-4 r rbi-2 3b, Tyler Flis 1-2 r-2 bb 2b sb, Bennett Knapper 1-3 r rbi, Jadrien Keavy 1-3 r, Josh Robb 2-3 r-2 rbi-2, Reece Schwirtz 1-1 r-2 rbi-2 hr
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Riverland: Chase Frey (L) 1-4-5-5-2-2, Jack Jellinger 3.2-7-6-0-3-2 … Ridgewater: Bickmann (W, 5-1) 5-4-1-1-2-4
Ridgewater 13, Century 12
Ridgewater 032 011 104 1-13 19 3
Century 241 131 000 0-12 16 5
Hitting - Ridgewater: Tyler Traphagen 3-7 r-2 rbi-2 3b, Brad Bickmann 3-7 r rbi-2 2b, Tyler Flis 1-7 r, Seth Resnick 3-6 rbi-2 2b, Nolan Spence 3-6 r rbi-2 2b, Bennett Knapper 2-4 r-3 rbi bb-2 hr, Jadrien Keavy 1-5, Josh Robb 2-5 r-3 rbi bb, Reece Schwirtz 1-5 r rbi-2 sac, Carter Thelen 0-0 r … Century: Brayden Bengston 3-6 r-3 2b, Xander Paar 3-6 r-2 rbi-2 2b-3, Ben Clapp 2-5 r rbi 2b-2, Brock Larsen 2-5 r-2 rbi-2 bb 3b hr, Chris Jacobs 3-6 r rbi-2 2b, Zac Evenson 1-5 r rbi-3 hr, Justin Baehler 1-5 r rbi hr, Noah Drusch 0-2 r bb-2 sb, Charles Thibodeau 1-4
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Ridgewater: Ayden Gustafson 2-6-6-3-0-2, Jack Howard 4-5-5-3-2-3, Robb (W) 4-3-1-1-1-4 … Century: Ty Valiton 2-7-5-4-1-3, Jack Vlasaty 5-2-3-0-1-5, Isaac Finley 2-7-4-4-1-2, Charlie Atkinson (L, 1-1) 1-2-1-1-0-1