ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Amateur baseball: Willmar Rails are all smiles

Willmar beats Clinton 15-1 in its first state tournament game since 2003 to advance to the second round

082122.S.WCT.RAILS.BAUMGART.CONTACT
Rails first baseman Jack Baumgart makes contact at the plate during a Minnesota state amateur baseball game against the Clinton Cards on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, at Jack Ruhr Field in Miesville.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

MIESVILLE — The Willmar Rails are feeling pretty good about themselves after Sunday.

Everything went right for the Rails in their first state tournament in 19 years. They beat the Clinton Cards 15-1 at Jack Ruhr Field.

“Maybe we can be the Cinderella this year,” said an euphoric Dustin Overcash, Willmar’s manager.

The Rails, the third seed from the Region 4C and the third team at state this season from the Corn Belt League, got a solid pitching performance from starter Patrick Courtney and fine relief from draftees Matt Gruber of Starbuck and Nathan Deutz of the Milroy Yankees.

082122.S.WCT.RAILS.COURTNEY.PITCH
Rails starting pitcher Patrick Courtney fires a pitch toward home plate during a state amateur baseball game against the Clinton Cards on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, at Jack Ruhr Field in Miesville.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

They hammered out 17 hits and jumped all over seven Clinton errors. It enables Willmar to advance to the second weekend of the 48-team, single elimination Class C tournament.

ADVERTISEMENT

Willmar plays the Delano Athletics at 7 p.m. Saturday in Dundas. Delano is the Section 12C champ.

“I was happy to be here, happy to be playing, not nervous at all,” said Rails first baseman Jack Baumgart, who’ll get to add his name to the state tournament record book.

082122.S.WCT.RAILS.STEFFER.THROW
Rails second baseman Jordan Steffer throws the ball toward first base during a state amateur baseball game against the Clinton Cards on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, at Jack Ruhr Field in Miesville.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

Baumgart, 22, became the 33rd player in the 99th annual tournament’s history to get five hits. The last to do it was Buckman’s Noah Boser in a 14-6 win over Stewartville-Racine in 2019. The first to do it was Virginia’s Carl Condon in 1932, whose five hits were all likely needed in a 15-14 victory over — believe it or not — the Willmar Rails.

082122.S.WCT.RAILS.FISCHER.SMILE
Wade Fischer smiles at first base for the Rails during a Minnesota state amateur baseball game against the Clinton Cards on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, at Jack Ruhr Field in Miesville.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

The record is six hits in one game and has been done three times, the first time in 1946 by Walt Menke of Albert Lea in a 23-2 victory over Zumbrota. He’s the only one to do it in a nine-inning game. Howard Lake’s Eric Schreifels did it in 2013 in a 7-6, 17-inning loss to Belle Plaine and Brice Panning had six hits for Young America in a 4-3, 14-inning win over New Market in 2018.

“I’ve never been here (at state),” Baumgart said. “But I’ve played six years in the (Corn Belt) League. I wasn’t going to get nervous.”

Baumgart went 5-for-5 with a double, a walk, a stolen base, three runs and three RBIs. His two-run double in the top of the fifth helped the Rails open up a 4-0 lead and break open what had been a close game.

“Jack was on today,” Overcash said. “He was dialed in. When I had Riley (Lessman) pinch run for him I was thinking about letting Riley hit Jack’s next time up. But then I thought, he could really do something here.”

082122.S.WCT.RAILS.HERMAN.HIT
Adam Herman makes contact at the plate for the Rails during a Minnesota state amateur baseball game against the Clinton Cards on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, at Jack Ruhr Field in Miesville.
Michael Lyne / West Central Tribune

It stayed 4-0 until the seventh, when the Rails scored three runs. They added three more in the eighth, surrendered a run to Clinton in the bottom of the eighth, then added five more in the ninth. Nine players had hits. Sam Etterman had three, including two doubles and two RBIs. Zach Reierson, Ashton Gregory and Christian Lessman each had two.

ADVERTISEMENT

It was an easy win and helped the Rails not worry too much who was not in Miesville, like starting shortstop Ian Koosman, who is already practicing for fall ball at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona, where Koosman is playing on a scholarship from the Fighting Artichokes.

“I’m 100-percent confident with Christian (Lessman) out there (at short),” Overcash said. “With him playing shortstop the way he is and hitting the way he is, we’re fine.”

Lessman has been the Rails’ ace pitcher most of the season with Courtney getting plenty of key starts. Overcash said Courtney would start against Delano to save Lessman for the final weekend. Lessman is dealing with a tired arm.

Overcash also was breathing easy Sunday after a string of tough, intense games.

“Ever since we won that (Region 4C) play-in game with Sacred Heart, it seems like every one of our games has gone right down to the last inning,” he said. “This is the first time in like 10 games that it wasn’t like that at the end.”

Willmar 15, Clinton 1

Willmar    001   030   335-15   17   1
Clinton      000   000   010-1   6   7
Hitting - Wilmar: Zach Reierson 2-5 r-2 rbi bb hbp, Jordan Steffer 1-5 r sac-2, Ashton Gregory 2-6 r-2 rbi, Jack Baumgart 5-5 r-3 rbi-3 2b bb sb, Riley Lessman 0-0 r, Sam Etterman 3-6 r-2 rbi-2 2b-2, Christian Lessman 2-5 r-2 rbi-3 2b sf, Jayden Dierenfeld 1-5 rbi, Josh Tinklenberg 1-1 rbi-2, Caleb Owens 0-4 r bb hbp … Clinton: Sam Adelman 0-4 bb, Zak Adelman 1-3 bb, Keane Turner 0-4 bb, Lukas Adelman 1-4 r, Mike Adelman 0-2 bb, Josh Haag 1-1, Chance Haugen 2-2 sac, Chris Karsky 1-2 rbi hbp sf
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Willmar: Patrick Courtney (W) 5.2-4-0-0-3-3, Matt Gruber (Starbuck) 1.1-0-0-0-1-2, Nathan Deutz (Milroy Yankees) `2-2-1-1-0-1 … Clinton: Sam Adelman (L) 6.2-8-7-5-2-7, Ryan Tolle 1-4-3-3-0-0, Braxton Thompson (Dawson) 0.1-2-3-3-0-1, L. Adelman 0.1-3-2-1-0-0, Riley Sammon (Ortonville) 0.2-0-0-0-1-1

More Baseball:
Recent baseball coverage from the West Central Tribune.
Pro
The Twins were the biggest beneficiary on Tuesday night when the lottery results were revealed, jumping from their projected spot — 13th overall — all the way to fifth.
Pro
The Twins hope they can reel in the star shortstop.
A summary page of recent polls on WCTrib.com.
The two additions gives the summer wood-bat league 24 franchises
Pro
Yordan Alvarez's 3-run home run was the difference maker
Pro
The Astros head home with a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, needing to win on Saturday or on Sunday (if necessary) to claim the championship.
Pro
Game marked the second time in World Series history a team failed to record a hit
A summary page of recent polls on WCTrib.com.
Pro
Bryce Harper, Alec Bohm, Brandon Marsh, Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins all homered as the Phillies grab a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Pro
Game 3 will now be held Tuesday at 7:03 p.m., with Game 4 Wednesday and Game 5 Thursday in Philadelphia.

What to read next
The WCT sports staff takes a dive into boys and girls basketball and what teams to watch out for in 2022-23
Benson's Dineen shoots for title No. 3; BBE looks to repeat state run
Ranked Cardinals look to be battle tested throughout '22-'23 season
On Saturday, December 3, 2022, the Wildcats of New London-Spicer defeated Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 27-26 with just seconds remaining in regulation to win the state championship in school history.