Bluffton Braves are Hi-10 Champions
After a regular season of ups and downs, Bluffton went into the Hi-10 playoffs ready to prove that they were better than a third-seed team.
On Sunday, the Braves captured the Hi-10 championship with a 4-1 victory over the higher-seeded Wadena-Deer Creek Shockers.
It wasn't easy, but the boys in navy blue and grey got down and dirty when they had to in Friday's dramatic 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the defending Hi-10 champion Detroit Lakes Angels.
Bluffton led 5-3 in the slow-paced game that took a nasty turn in favor of the Angels when Matt Olson hit a game-tying, two-run homer in the eighth to make it 5-5.
Detroit Lakes then took over the lead in the ninth as Noah Johnson slapped a two-out single, advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on Matt Nustad's RBI single.
Braves' relief pitcher Dustin Geiser retired the next batter, and then went to work in the bottom of the ninth to win the ballgame.
Kyle Geiser led off the inning with a double off the Angels' relief pitcher Bryan Buhr.
Detroit Lakes then reinstated starting pitcher Matt Olson on the mound with Geiser on second and no outs.
Marc Sweere tapped a weak single and Wayne Dykhoff laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases. Kyle Dykhoff then smoked a game-tying single to score Kyle Geiser, making it 6-6 with no outs.
Dustin Geiser, who highlighted the Braves' four-run second inning with his double, drilled a grounder past a diving Angels' first baseman for the game-winner.
Kyle Dykhoff started on the mound for the Braves and went eight innings for the no decision. Dustin Geiser was credited with the win on one inning of work.
In Sunday's championship game, Bluffton once again had to erase an early deficit as the Shockers went ahead 1-0 in the top of the second inning. Andrew Dornbush doubled home Travis George, who had reached base on a Bluffton infield error.
In the bottom half of the frame, Sweere led off for the Braves with a double and made a bull-rush home to tie the game on Wayne Dykhoff's RBI single.
The Braves took the lead for good in the bottom of the third as Cody Geiser smoked a single into the outfield to score Brent Weller, who had led off the inning with a double. Geiser came through again in the fifth with another RBI single, scoring Kurt Mursu to make it 3-1 in favor of the Braves.
In the eighth, the Braves capped the scoring when Kyle Geiser led off with a double and scored on Sweere's RBI single to give Bluffton the Hi-10 championship.
Cody Geiser went the distance for Bluffton to pick up the win. He allowed one unearned run on nine hits and struck out seven in nine innings.
Bluffton selected John Schmitz of Perham and Jeramie Weller of New York Mills as draftees to complete their regional roster on Sunday.
The Braves play Resorters East wildcard winner Urbank-Parkers Prairie today (Thursday) at 8 p.m. in Dent for the first-round of the Region 14C Tournament.