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Bluffton knocks off NYM to advance to state

Bluffton's Jake Dykhoff puts the tag on Nimrod's Luke Weniger after getting him caught in a rundown. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal1 / 3
Bluffton's Cody Geiser fields the groundball in front of Nimrod's Alex Brockpahler during the Region 14C playoffs in Perham. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal2 / 3
Bluffton's Tom Tellers slides in with a double during Bluffton's elimination game victory over Nimrod. Jason Groth/Pioneer Journal3 / 3

The Bluffton Braves needed to win two games to secure a spot in the Minnesota Amatuer Class C Baseball Tournament and they did just that by knocking off Nimrod 7-4 on Aug. 10 and New York Mills 3-1 on Aug. 11, before falling to Midway in the Region 14C Tournament.

The Braves hope their run can continue when they open state tournament play with Luxemburg on Aug. 19 at 2:30 p.m. in New Prague. It's the first state tournament appearance for the Braves since the 2013 season. The Braves took the long way to the state tournament, winning three elimination games on their way to securing a spot. They defeated Wolf Lake, Nimrod and New York Mills.

The Braves received a strong pitching effort from Jake Dykhoff as he closed the game with Nimrod before shutting down New York Mills to secure the state tournament berth. The Braves jumped ahead of the Millers in the first inning. Cody Geiser walked and moved around on singles by Jake Dykhoff and Kyle Dykhoff.

It remained 1-0 until the fifth inning when Jake Dykhoff walked and came around on a double by Sam Tellers to make it 2-0.

The Millers cut into the lead in the sixth inning when they strung their first three hits together. Taylor Thompson, Collin Teich and Maison Roberts hit three consecutive singles to score their lone run.

The Braves added some insurance in the ninth when Preston Warren singled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Dykhoff to make it 3-1. The Millers threatened in the bottom of the ninth with singles by Roberts and Tyler Patron. However, they were both left stranded on base when Dykhoff induced a fly ball to end the game.

Dykhoff finished the effort allowing one run on five hits. He took a no hit bid in to the sixth inning. He fanned eight batters and walked one batter on the day.

Bluffton needed to take down Nimrod on the previous night with a 7-4 victory to advance to the game with New York Mills. Bluffton fell into an early hole, but battled its way back, earning the 7-4 victory.

Dustin Geiser earned the win. He went six plus innings and allowed three runs on seven hits. He struck out one. He gave up a run in the first and the third innings before the bats came alive for Bluffton.

Kyle Dykhoff drove in two runs with two outs in the third, scoring Kurt Mursu and Tom Tellers to even the game at two. Errors proved costly for Nimrod in the fifth inning as Bluffton scored a pair of runs on a pair of Nimrod errors. Kyle Dykhoff and Kevin Tumberg both scored in the inning. Nimrod responded with a run in the sixth, before Bluffton came back with a pair of runs in the seventh. Justin Dykhoff singled in a run, while Preston Warren plated a run with a ground out.

Nimrod snuck a run across against Jake Dykhoff in the eighth, but could not get anymore as they left two on the bases. Missed opportunities doomed the Gnats in the game. The Gnats stranded 13 guys on base and had two runners thrown out on the base paths as well.

Kyle Dykhoff drove in his third run of the game with a double in the eighth which made it 7-4, which was enough for Jake Dykhoff to record the save. He went three innings and struck out six while giving up four hits.

The Braves run came to an end when they were defeated by the Midway Snurdbirds in the championship game, 5-3. Chris Baso hit a two-run home run in the sixth which secured the lead and the win for the Snurdbirds.

Midway trailed Bluffton after the first, but came back with a run in the second and two in the fifth. Tom Tellers, Sam Teller and Ike Tellers scored runs for Bluffton in the loss. Kevin Tumberg took the loss in relief for Bluffton.

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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