Springfield edges Wabasso for District II title

After winning two of three games on the first weekend of the District tournament, the Wabasso Legion baseball team remained alive and headed into the second weekend needing four consecutive wins to advance to State.

On July 22, Wabasso moved one step closer to that goal, edging out Adrian 2-1 on a walk off in the seventh inning, and then beating Luverne handily 8-1. The team then advanced to the District championship the next day, needing to beat undefeated Springfield twice, but saw their season come to an end with a 4-1 loss.

After a great showing offensively during the first weekend of Districts, Wabasso found themselves in a pitcher’s duel on the second weekend against Adrian. Wabasso starting pitcher Nick Altermatt got into some trouble early, giving up an RBI single in the first inning. Wabasso answered right back however in their half of the first. After Altermatt led off the inning with a base hit, he advanced to second and eventually scored on an RBI single from CJ Theis.

Adrian was able to take the lead again in the third inning on another run scoring single. After that, the bats went cold for both teams. Altermatt settled in on the mound, and was dominate for long stretches of the game. He went the distance on the hill, giving up only three hits and recording 10 strikeouts.

Despite Altermatt’s strong performance, Wabasso found themselves down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh. Jayden Eis led off the inning with a huge hit, a line drive single to right field that put the tying run on first. The next two batters struck out, however, and Wabasso was one out away from being eliminated. Jacob Plaetz stepped up to the plate and delivered a clutch hit, lining a ball in the gap. It was cut off by the centerfielder, but Eis moved to third and Plaetz advanced to second on the play. With the winning run now at second, Caleb Frericks was intentionally walked, loading the bases. It was now up to Ty Kemp to keep Wabasso’s season alive. Kemp hit a sharp grounder to first base that snuck under the fielders glove, and Plaetz scrambled around third base and dove head first into home with plenty of time to spare.

The walk-off gave Wabasso a 3-2 victory and extended their season, for at least one more game.

After struggling to hit in the first game of the day, Wabasso’s offense came out firing immediately against Luverne. In the very first inning, Altermatt, Theis, and Frericks hit solid doubles. Kemp added a single, and Devan Liebl added an RBI hit of his own in the frame. Five hits and three runs later, Wabasso took an early lead.

The hits kept coming in the second inning. Altermatt crushed a ball to left for his second double of the game, Plaetz collected an RBI single and Frericks also had an RBI in the inning. With a 5-1 lead after two innings, Wabasso decided to get creative with their pitching matchups. Because of the pitch count rules, a pitcher could only throw 30 pitches if they wanted to throw the next day. With potentially two games awaiting the next day, Wabasso used five total pitchers in the game, keeping them all under 30 pitches and eligible to pitch the next day.

Starter Devan Liebl gave up a run in 1 2/3 innings, but Kemp, Franta, Plaetz, and Frericks managed to throw 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. The relief pitchers combined to give up two hits over the rest of the game.

In the fifth inning, Wabasso added three more runs to their total, the biggest being a two run double off the bat of Franta. In the 8-1 victory, Wabasso collected 14 hits. Altermatt was 4-for-5 with three doubles, while Plaetz, Frericks, Kemp, and Liebl each had two hits. With the win, Wabasso advanced to the championship game against Springfield.

Wabasso found themselves stymied by Springfield yet again, losing the first game 4-1 and ending their season. Wabasso struggled to get anything going against Springfield pitcher Isaac Fink, who gave up four hits over 6 2/3 innings.

Wabasso didn’t score until the seventh inning, on an RBI infield single from Nick Ludwig. The team brought the tying run to the plate, but they could not score further. Liebl was fantastic on the mound, pitching a complete game and giving up only five hits to a loaded Springfield lineup.

Despite the loss, Wabasso legion was able to improve from last season. After dropping the very first game of the District tournament, Wabasso stormed back for four straight wins, and they can proudly state that they are the District II runner-ups.