Wabasso Jaxx eliminated from postseason

Staff Writer
Redwood Falls Gazette
Kyle Lechner (below) pitches for the Jaxx.  He would see action in both playoff games.

The stage was set for the Wabasso Jaxx amateur baseball team as they began their playoff push July 31  in Sacred Heart.

The Jaxx received the eighth seed in the Cornbelt League and were one of four teams (Willmar, Granite Falls, Sacred Heart) to qualify for the league tournament.

The winner of the tournament would receive the fifth seed in the Cornbelt League and advance to the region playoffs in Starbuck the following weekend.

In one of the most thrilling games in the brief history of the Jaxx, Wabasso battled the Sacred Heart Saints for 11 nerve-racking innings.

Wabasso made a furious comeback in the late innings, scoring two runs in the eighth and three runs in the ninth to tie the score at five, before the Saints were able to get the winning run across in the 11th inning to win 6-5. It was an unfortunate reverse of fortunes for the Jaxx.

Earlier in the season, Wabasso defeated the Saints by the same score on a walk-off hit of its own. This time, it was the Saints on the winning end.

Wabasso trailed 3-0 entering the eighth inning.

Jaxx starter Devan Liebl worked tirelessly to keep the team within striking distance. That was when the comeback officially began.

With one out in the eighth, Sam Guetter singled, followed by a CJ Theis double down the line. Liebl came through with an infield RBI single, and Caleb Frericks brought in the second run with a hit of his own.

Sacred Heart got two runs right back in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run home run, and the Jaxx trailed by three runs entering the ninth inning. Refusing to give up, Wabasso staged a dramatic comeback.

Kyle Lechner and Colby Wall started the inning with back-to-back hits, and Bryant Haas reached on an error to score Lechner. The next two batters struck out, bringing Devan Liebl to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second.

It was then that Liebl delivered one of the most clutch hits in franchise history, a double down the line that was just out of the reach of the diving right fielder as Wall and Haas came gliding across the plate to tie the game at five.

Lechner came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth, and the two teams were held scoreless until the 11th inning. In that inning, the Saints broke through with an RBI single to take the win 6-5. Devan Liebl finished 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Lechner added three hits of his own, and Caleb Frericks was 3-for-5 with an RBI.

Liebl also threw eight solid innings, giving up five runs and striking out four batters. Lechner finished off the game in relief for Wabasso and would take the loss.

On Aug. 1, the Jaxx squared off against the Granite Falls Kilowatts in the Cornbelt League playoffs in an elimination game. Wabasso’s season was on the line, and for the second time in as many days, the Jaxx suffered a nail-biting loss, this time by a score of 2-1.

After falling in extra innings to Sacred Heart, the Jaxx had a 1-0 lead in the ninth slip away against Granite Falls. The Kilowatts scored two runs in the bottom of the frame to take the game 2-1 and eliminate Wabasso from the playoffs.

In the second inning, Devan Liebl scored on a passed ball to score the first run of the game. It was the only offense Wabasso would be able to muster.

A Sam Guetter double high off the centerfield fence late in the game was the best chance for the team to add some insurance runs. The Jaxx didn’t require much offense on the day, however, thanks to another outstanding pitching performance from Lechner.

After throwing more than two innings against Sacred Heart, Lechner was back on the bump in the second game, with no signs of fatigue as he used his array of pitches to shut down the Kilowatt bats. Lechner cruised through the first eight innings and entered the ninth with a 1-0 lead.

That’s when the first Granite Falls batter of the inning hit a solo home run to tie the game at one apiece. A walk, bunt and single up the middle brought in the winning run for the Kilowatts.

With that, the Wabasso Jaxx second overall season came to an end. Wabasso finished the shortened 2020 season with an overall record of 3-14, but the team showed great strides this year. The season was filled with more milestones for the young ball club, including the first league wins in franchise history.

The Jaxx have no plans of slowing down, as they’ll be geared up and ready to take the field again in 2021.

The Jaxx wrapped up the regular season with a pair of non-league games against Cottonwood and Lamberton.

In a 10-3 loss to Cottonwood, Carter Guetter blasted a two-run home run (the first of his career), and Adryen Tietz added an RBI single. Leo Meis got the start and pitched well early on before being relieved by Ti Trost, Josh Guetter and Tietz.

Against the Long Sox (a 20-8 loss), Carter Guetter had a pair of RBI doubles and three RBI, Josh Guetter added a two-run double and was 2-for-3, Frericks went 3-for-4 with an RBI double and Sam Guetter went 2-for-4. Meis pitched well in relief, allowing no earned runs in four innings of work.

- Photo by A&J Photography