Altermatt's walk-off homerun caps off wild State Tourney for Wabasso
It was a fitting way for Wabasso senior Nick Altermatt to end his memorable high school baseball career as his homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning helped the Rabbits defeat Hinckley-Finlayson 7-6 Friday afternoon in the State Class ‘A’ consolation championship held in Jordan.
The Rabbits (16-5) earned a fifth place finish with two straight walk-off victories after suffering a tough 8-6 loss to Parkers Prairie in the opening round of the tournament. Altermatt - who was named the Tomahawk Conference Player of the Year - joined teammate Jacob Plaetz as members of the Class ‘A’ All-Tournament team. Plaetz set the school record for batting average (.542) in a single season and led the team in hits (39) and RBI’s (40) and Altermatt broke the state record for career triples (20) and the school record for career strikeouts (331) and batted .479 with 34 hits and 28 RBI’s.
“I was very proud of the way our kids responded to the first round setback to end the season on an emotional high,” Coach Chad Olson said, “It was a memorable season for a number of reasons and I’m happy the kids got to finish off the year with two great wins.”
The Rabbits opened up tournament action against 2017 champion Parkers Prairie and seemed to be in control with a 6-0 lead in the sixth and ace Altermatt on the hill.
The wheels however fell off in the top of the sixth as Parkers Prairie opened the inning with four hits (including a triple) and a walk off. Kyle Jacobson was then brought in and struggled with control as he threw six wild pitches, hit a batter and ultimately gave up the game-winning triple to Matt Ferley. Ferley would also steal home and when the damage was done the Panthers had struck for eight runs to take an 8-6 lead.
The Rabbits would regroup in the bottom of the frame, loading the bases with one out on singles from Plaetz and Ty Kemp and a hit-batter. The threat would end however on a pop-up to first and a fielder’s choice.
Wabasso would go quietly in the seventh and the Panthers would win to move in to the semifinals. Jacobson would suffer the loss, allowing three earned runs on two hits, striking out one in just a 1/3 of an inning. Altermatt allowed five earned runs on seven hits, striking out seven and walking four in five innings and Plaetz struck out two and did not allow a hit in 1 2/3 innings. Matt Ferley would pick up the win, allowing four earned runs (six total) on 13 hits, striking out four.
Plaetz would lead a strong offensive attack for the Rabbits by going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s and Jacobson was 2-for-2. Altermatt went 2-for-4 with a triple, Lance Wagner was 2-for-4, Will Carlson went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s and Cooper Taylor added a hit and two RBI’s. Tony Franta, Kemp and Jayden Eis all had hits in the loss.
In the consolations semifinals, the Rabbits got into an interesting battle with Sacred Heart - who lost a tough 4-3 opener to eventual State Champs Heritage Christian Academy - in what proved to be a wacky Friday of baseball.
Trailing 6-2 heading into the top of the sixth, the Rabbits crept closer with three runs to cut the deficit to 6-5. With one out, Altermatt singled to left field, Plaetz followed with an RBI double, and Kemp singled. Colton Taylor - running for Kemp - would steal second to put runners on second and third and Plaetz would score on an error. Taylor would later score on a double steal.
Trailing by one, the Rabbits would erupt for four runs in the top of the seventh to take a 9-6 lead. A big double by Tony Franta to center field, a two-run single off the bat of Plaetz and a double to right from Jacobson were all key hits in the frame. Sacred Heart would battle back in the bottom of the inning and had the game-tying run in position to score but hesitation on a double off the bat of Noah Chine from pinch-runner Adam Sczepanski allowed the Rabbits to throw out the runner at home on a tag from catcher Jayden Eis to end the game.
Plaetz would pick up the victory in relief of starter Jacobson, allowing two earned runs on three hits, striking out a pair and walking one. Jacobson went the first five innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits, striking out three and walking two. Evan Sczepanski took the loss, allowing four earned runs on five hits, striking out 11 and walking just one.
Jacobson was 2-for-4 at the plate with a double, triple and four RBI’s. Kemp was 2-for-4, Altermatt went 2-for-3, Plaetz was 2-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and three RBI’s and Franta went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
In a battle for fifth place, the Rabbits got into another wild one with Hinckley-Finlayson as Altermatt would provide the heroics in the bottom of the ninth with a blast to center field that gave the Rabbits a 7-6 victory.
The Rabbits led 5-4 heading into the top of the seventh but Hinckley-Finlayson would take the lead on a two-out, two-run single off the bat of Jacob Rensvold to give the Jaguars a 6-5 lead.
In the bottom of the frame, Altermatt got on board with a one-out walk and would promptly steal second to get into scoring position. A passed ball allowed him to reach third and he would then score on a single to left off the bat of Plaetz. The Rabbits would have a chance to end the game but with Colton Taylor at second and just one out, the Jaguars would get out of the inning with a pop-up and strike out to send it into extra innings.
The eighth inning proved to be a quiet one and and the Jags would get a single from Resvold in the ninth but could not score to set up the walk-off from Altermatt. Kemp would pitch the final three innings in relief of Plaetz to earn the victory, allowing no earned runs on four hits, striking out two and walking two.
Plaetz went six innings, allowing three earned runs on four hits. Altermatt would finish 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI’s and four runs scored and Franta was 2-for-5. Kemp was 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI, Plaetz was 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s and Lance Wagner had a hit. Brady Johnson suffered the loss in relief of starter Adam Bridenstine who allowed three earned runs on five hits.