LITCHFIELD – Litchfield is set to play spoiler again in the Section 5AA baseball pool.
Last season as the eighth seed, the Dragons defeated first seed Southwest Christian in the second round.
The No. 8 seed once again, Litchfield has another shot at the No. 1 seed.
The Dragons enter the double-elimination portion of the bracket after defeating No. 9 Maple Lake 4-2 on Thursday at Optimist Park. “Playoff baseball is usually low-scoring and close,” Litchfield head coach Jeff Wollin said. “Sometimes you need a break and I think we played well enough today and we made our own breaks.”
At 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Dragons (9-12) head to the top-seeded Rockford. The Rockets won both regular-season meetings: 6-3 on April 13; and 8-6 on May 1.
Rockford has won the last five games in the rivalry. Litchfield’s last win came in the 5AA playoffs on May 29, 2021.
“I think we need to change some things,” Wollin said.
On Thursday against Maple Lake, Anthony Estrada’s bat was the difference-maker for the Dragons.
A strong wind blowing from center field knocked over balls all day, except for a blast from Estrada in the first inning. With one out and runners on first and second, Estrada drove the ball over the left-field fence for a three-run home run.
“I fouled in the last one and I was a little nervous, so I was just thinking about the base hit,” said Estrada, a second-year third baseman. “I was looking for a good path for the bat and I got a nice hanging curve and got a good hit.”
After the Irish cut the deficit to one, Estrada delivered again in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single that brought Connor Taber home.
From there, pitcher Bradley Larson and the Litchfield defense had to finish the job.
Larson held Maple Lake (9-11) to four hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in a complete-game victory.
“He didn’t get into trouble with the debauchery and he got himself out of some jams,” Wollin said of Larson. “He competed very well for seven innings.”
The fifth inning was shaky as Maple Lake scored a pair of runs on Jarrett Faue’s double before Larson talked the Irish into making two straight pop outs. In the sixth, Maple Lake got runners at second and third base before Larson ended the threat by striking out Gavin Miller.
“Bradley has been a great pitcher and a great teammate for us all year,” Estrada said. “I’m glad he was able to come here and do the job for us.”
In the seventh, Estrada ended the game with a double play, touching third base for the forceout and throwing to first for the final out.
“That could have been good fortune with the way the ball was spinning,” Wollin said of the final out. “For Anthony to be able to get it and throw that jump pitch, it turned out to be a perfect jump shot, that was good.”
Litchfield 4, Maple Lake 2
Maple Lake 000 020 0-2 4 2
Litchfield 300 001 x-4 6 2
Hit – Maple Lake: Eddy Neu 1-3, Danny Reilley 1-2 2b r, Gavin Miller 0-2 r bb, Jarrett Faue 1-2 2b rbi, Sam Marquette 1-3… Litchfield: Jack McCann 1-3 sb, Caden Besemer 1-2 r, Connor Taber 2-3 r-2 sb, Anthony Estrada 2-3 hr rbi-4 sb
Release (ip-hr-er-bb-so) – Maple Lake: Free kick (L) 6-6-4-4-0-4 … Litchfield: Bradley Larson (W) 7-4-2-1-4-7
Eighth-seeded Martin County West eliminated ninth-seeded BOLD in the first round of the Section 2A playoffs at Fox Lake Area Sports Complex in Welcome.
With the win, the Mavericks will take on Sleepy Eye on Tuesday at 5 pm at Sleepy Eye.
The Warriors finish the season with a 6-11 record.
Rocori scored six times in the first, once in the second and six more in the third on his way to victory over Willmar at Swansson Field.
The Cardinals scored three in the first and managed four hits. Dylan Staska led the way, going 2-for-3 with two runs and a stolen base. Jordan Ellingson went 1-for-1 with a double, walk and two RBIs for Willmar.
Jack Spanier and Beck Loesch each had two hits for the Spartans (12-8).
Willmar concludes the regular season with a 5-13 record and prepares for the Section 8AA playoffs, where the seedings have yet to be announced.
Rocori 616 01-14 9 1
Willmar 300 01-4 4 2
Hit – Rocori: Jack Spanier 2-4 r sb, Jack Boos 0-1 r-2 sb, Beck Loesch 2-3 r-2 rbi-2, Grady Notch 1-1 r, Brady Schafer 1-1 r-3 rbi bb-2 2b , Jordan Theisen 0-0 hbp, John Kinzer 1-1 rbi-3 bb 2b hbp, Hunter Heidgerken 0-1 rbi sf hbp, Evan Acheson 0-2 rbi bb, Kaden Rausch 0-1 r, Brady Weber 1-3 r rbi-2, Thad Lieser 1-2 r rbi-2 bb sb … Willmar: Tyler Madsen 1-3, Jaxxon Sjoberg 0-1 r bb hbp, Cullen Gregory 0-2 r hbp, Dylan Staska 2-3 r-2 sb, Jordan Ellingson 1-1 rbi-2 bb 2b, Landon Ogdahl 0-0 rbi , Mattix Swanson 0-1 bb sb
Pitching (ip-hr-er-bb-so) – Rocori: Acheson (F) 4-3-3-2-3-6, Rausch 1-1-1-0-0-2… Willmar: Jaydon Garnhardt (L) 0.2-4-6-6-2-0, Ellingson 1.1-4-7-6-5-1, Chase Birchard 3-1-1-0-0-2
A four-run fourth inning helped MACCRAY rally from a 3-2 deficit to beat Ortonville in Raymond.
Ethan Stormmer went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Xavier Noble went 2 for 3 with a run and Angel Mendoza went 2 for 3 with an RBI for the Wolverines.
Carter Lee went 2 for 4 with a double and home run and Hunter Merritt went 3 for 3 with a walk for the Trojans.
MACCRAY, the sixth seed, plays third-seeded Dawson-Boyd on Saturday at 1 pm in Prinsburg in the Section 3A-North playoffs. Second seed Central Minnesota Christian takes on No. 7 Renville County West at 11 am The 11 am winner and 1 pm winner will meet at 3:30 pm Saturday in Prinsburg.
Ortonville 201,000 1-4 8 0
MACCRAY 200 400 x-6 10 2
Hit – Ortonville: Dru Boots 1-4 r sb-2, Carter Lee 2-4 hr 2b r-2 rbi, Hunter Merritt 3-3 r rbi bb, Connor Danielson 1-2 bb-2, Kirby Olson 1-4 rbi… MACRAY: Ethan Strommer 2-4 2b rbi sb, Wyatt Swenson 0-3 r bb bb, Xavier Noble 2-3 r, Angel Mendoza 2-3 rbi sb, Emery Aker 1-3 r, Keegan Rand 1-3 r rbi sb, Garrett Struxness 0-1 r hbp, Jase Dirksen 1-2 3b r rbi-2, Tobyn Dalle 1-1
Launch (ip-hr-er-bb-so) – Ortonville: Merritt 6-10-6-6-1-5 … MACRAY: Grayson Ahrenholz 2-5-3-1-2-1, Noble (W) 3-2-0-0-0-5, Strommer 2-1-1-1-2-3
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg wrapped up the regular season with a win against Section 6A-South rival Hancock at Willy Reigstad Field in Sunburg.
Jaiden Henjum and Jared Cortez went 3-for-4 for the Fighting Saints. Henjum had two triples, three runs scored and one RBI. Cortez doubled with two RBIs and a run scored.
The pitching trio of Evan Zimmer, Travis Engelke and Chase Magaard combined for 14 strikeouts while holding the Owls to just two hits.
The Section 6A tournament begins with first round play on Tuesday. The seeds have not yet been determined.
Hancock 000 000 0-0 2 1
KMS 011 230 x-7 12 1
Hit – Hancock: Davin Rose 1-3 sb, Donovan Curfman 1-2 bb… kms: Luke Jeseritz 1-4 2b r, Isaac Rudningen 1-3 r, Jared Cortez 3-4 2b r rbi-2, Jaiden Henjum 3-4 3b-2 r-3 rbi sb, Travis Engelke 2-2 2b r rbi-2 , Evan Zimmer 1-3, Jett Olson 1-1 2b rbi bb hbp
Launch (ip-hr-er-bb-so) – Hancock: Pink (L) 6-12-7-7-2-7… kms: Zimmer (W) 4-1-0-0-0-7, Engelke 2-1-0-0-0-4, Chase Magaard 1-0-0-0-1-3
Border West capitalized on seven errors by Renville County West to beat the Jaguars at Sacred Heart.
Six players had hits for Border West. Eli Larson and Caden Spilde combined for the five-inning shutout, allowing three hits and one walk.
Trevor Peterson, Austin Rice and Zac Gustafson had hits for RCW.
West Border 027 30-12 6 2
RCW 000 00-0 3 7
Hit – West Frontier: Brody Nachbor 1-4 r 2b, Eli Larson 1-4 rbi 2b, Marshall Tolifson 1-2 r hbp sb-2, Kevin Casper 1-3 r rbi sb, Caden Spilde 0-2 r bb hbp, Jacob Volker 0-2 r-3 bb sb-2, Nathan Johnson 0-1 r-2 rbi bb-2, Brayden Andrew 1-3 r-2 rbi sb, Brayden Hofer 1-3 r sb… RCW: Trevor Peterson 1-2, Austin Rice 1-2, Zac Gustafson 1-1, Carson Allex 0-0 bb
Launch (ip-hr-er-bb-so) – West Border: Larson (W) 3-1-0-0-1-4, Spilde 2-2-0-0-0-2… RCW: Peterson (left) 2.2-3-9-2-3-1, Gustafson 2.1-3-3-1-1-1
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa won a Section 6A-South team matchup, beating Uppsala/Swanville Area in a non-conference match at Elrosa.
Casey Lenarz went 1 for 3 with three RBIs to lead the Jaguars’ offense. Luke Illies earned the complete game victory, striking out one.
United States 020 000 0-2 6 3
BBE 304 000 x-7 3 1
Hit – USA: Bryce Binek 1-3 bb, Jack Primus 1-4 2b sb, Caden Beseman 1-2 r bb, Tyson Leners 2-3 2b-2 r, Max Lange 1-3 rbi-2… baby: Tate DeKok 0-3 r bb, Tanner Shelton 0-4 r, Luke Dingmann 0-3 r-2 bb, Ethan Mueller 1-1 r bb-2, Hayden Sobiech 0-1 r rbi-2 bb-2, Casey Lenarz 1-3 rbi-3, Luke Illies 1-2 bb
Release (ip-hr-er-bb-so) – US: Binek (L) 2.1-3-7-1-5-1, Daniel Kokett 3.2-0-0-0-2-3… baby: Illies (W) 7-6-2-2-4-1