Bluffton reaches Region 14C playoffs
After escaping New York Mills' upset bid the previous week, Bluffton had to be feeling pretty good about their chances of challenging the top-ranked Detroit Lakes team for the outright Hi-10 championship.
All the Braves needed to do was get past the Angels on that Friday night and they would be in the driver's seat.
But Bluffton couldn't quite follow the script.
Detroit Lakes' 6-2 victory sent Bluffton into Saturday's elimination game against a tough, surging Perham squad.
The Braves were staring at a 6-1 deficit going into the bottom of the sixth against the Pirates when they suddenly jump-started a late-inning rally to pull out the 7-6 squeaker.
The loss eliminated the Pirates and earned Bluffton a rematch with Detroit Lakes for another shot at the Hi-10 championship.
The teams battled to a 5-5 tie until the bottom of the sixth when the Angels took the lead for good. Taylor Fuhs scored on Kyle Danner's fielder's choice. Detroit Lakes added an insurance run in the eighth on Zach Fulmer's homer to make the final 7-5.
Despite the loss, Bluffton finished as Hi-10 runner-ups and will play the Carlos Cougers 8 p.m. Friday night in Carlos for the first round of the Region 14C playoffs.
Angels send Braves to elimination game
After remaining scoreless for a good part of three innings Friday night, Detroit Lakes erased the goose egg on the board with help from Braves starter Cody Geiser. The Angels' Terry Haus, Phil Kirchner and Noah Johnson drew consecutive walks from Geiser to load the bases to start Detroit Lakes' bottom half of the third frame. Chris Sieling's fielder's choice scored Haus for Detroit Lakes' 1-0 lead.
Phil Kirchner's one-out homer started a three-run fifth for the Angels and Chris Engberg delivered a two-run single that plated Sieling and Fuhs.
Bluffton cut into the lead with two runs in the top of the sixth as Wayne and Kyle Dykhoff each drove in a run to make it 4-2.
The Angels added a pair of runs in the bottom half of the inning to put the game away on a Noah Johnson two-run single that scored Nick Omberg and Kirchner.
Both starting pitchers went the distance with Matt Olson picking up the win for the Angels. Despite only giving up two earned runs in the game, Cody Geiser took the loss for Braves.
Bluffton's late rally sinks the Pirates
The loss to Detroit Lakes put the Braves in an elimination game against the revitalized Perham Pirates. Since they'd been upset 1-0 by sixth-seeded New York Mills in the opening round, the third-seeded Pirates had been playing for their playoff lives. Perham eliminated the Wadena-Deer Creek Shockers 5-4 on July 22 and then eliminated Bertha 13-3 on Friday.
For six innings, it looked like Bluffton's ship had sailed as the Pirates scored three runs in the third and fifth innings to build a 6-1 lead. Tyler Doll's two-run single highlighted the Pirates' third inning and Jon Kotaska's RBI double with one out kept the rally alive for Perham in the fifth.
Bluffton's lone run up to that point was by Kyle Geiser. After leading off with a double in the bottom of the third, Geiser advanced to third on a Jake Seelhamer hit and scored on Brent Weller's RBI single to cut the lead to 3-1.
Down 6-1, Bluffton slowly came to life in the bottom of the sixth, starting with Cody Geiser's double. Dave Klinnert's base-hit and Wayne Dykhoff's RBI single plated Geiser to cut the lead to 6-2.
Then four runs came in the seventh inning, allowing the Braves to tie the game up 6-6. Bluffton was aided by three Pirate errors in the frame. With one out, Seelhammer reached on an error, Kurt Mursu singled and Weller plated Seelhammer with an RBI single.
Back-to-back Pirate errors with two outs allowed Klinnert and Wayne Dykhoff to reach base and also scored Mursu and Weller in the process, cutting the lead to one-run. One batter later, Kyle Dykhoff's RBI single scored Klinnert for the game-tying run.
Perham couldn't answer the suddenly hot Braves.
With one out and the bases loaded, Dustin Geiser's game- winning hit in the bottom of the ninth plated Weller for the 7-6 victory.
Kyle Dykhoff started on the mound for the Braves and lasted five innings before being relieved by Dustin Geiser. Geiser shut down the Pirates, allowing no runs to earn the win.
Bluffton runs out of gas, lose 7-5 in championship game
If there was a sign of how wild the game was going to be, fans shouldn't look further than how the Angels scored the game's first run -- on a wild pitch. After escaping a bases-load threat by Bluffton in the top of the first inning, Detroit Lakes wasted little time getting on the board. Omberg doubled to start the game and then scored on a wild pitch to put the Angels up 1-0.
Bluffton responded in the top of the second to tie the game on a RBI single by Cody Geiser that scored Kirk Braukmann and then added two runs in the third to take a brief 3-1 lead. Klinnert led off with a walk and Marc Sweere then hit a double to put runners in scoring position. One batter later, both Braves crossed the home plate on Kyle Dykhoff's two-run single.
Detroit Lakes pulled within a run in the bottom of the third as Haus doubled home Kyle Danner, and in the bottom of the fourth the Angels tied the game back up on a leadoff homer by Sieling.
Kyle Geiser's homer to left off Angel reliever Bryan Buhr gave the Braves the 4-3 lead back in the top of the fifth. Detroit Lakes wouldn't quit. The Angels came right back and regained the lead in their half of the inning. With one out, Haus singled, Kirchner doubled to score him and Johnson singled to score Kirchner and that gave the Angels a 5-4 lead.
Bluffton had a little gas left in the tank at the top of the sixth inning. Marc Sweere's two-out single scored Weller to once again tie the game up at 5-5. But the Angels took the lead for good on Fuhs' run in the home half of the sixth and Fulmer's home run in the eighth.
Weller took the loss for the Braves, lasting six innings with Kurt Mursu pitching two innings in relief. Buhr was the winning pitcher for the Angels on three innings of work, replacing starter Max Saarinen in the fourth. Fuhs earned the save, allowing just one run after coming in for the seventh inning.