The Bluffton Braves are making their third straight Class C Tournament appearance on Saturday, Aug. 29 when they take on the Randall Cubs in the second round of the tournament at Milroy.
The Braves advanced by cruising through the competition in Region 14C. They defeated Midway 13-2 in the championship game, which gave them the first round bye.
“It feels really awesome because opportunities like this don’t come by every day,” Bluffton manager Terry Geiser said. “We have to enjoy them when you get them.”
Geiser said the Braves are much hungrier after suffering a pair of opening game losses the past two seasons at the Class C Tournament.
Last year, they were edged out in a pitcher’s duel by Waterville 1-0.
“We are hungry. We want to go down there and prove that we belong down there and win that first game,” Geiser said. “The last two years, we lost the first round game, we want to win that first round game and see what happens after that.”
Randall comes out of Region 8C as the third place team. They advanced with a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over Hadley on the opening night of the tournament. Travis Wenzel pitched six innings of scoreless relief. He allowed three hits and struck out seven batters. He came in relief of Caleb Strack, who did not have his best stuff. Strack allowed three runs on one hit. He struck out two, walked seven and hit one batter. Wenzel was the team’s best hitter in the game as well. He finished with three hits and drove in a run. Kyle Peterschick had a pair of hits and a two runs scored in the win for the Cubs.
“I don’t know anything about them. All I know is they are in a good baseball area down there,” Geiser said. “I expect to see a very competitive team when we show up to play Randall.”
Geiser said the keys for the Braves will be their pitching and defense. He said they know to go out, throw strikes and pitch like they are capable of. He said they need to continue to have good defense and have timely hitting. Geiser said the team had a good practice on Friday evening and will have another before they head to Milroy.
“All three of those go together, but it starts with pitching and defense,” Geiser said. “We had a very good practice on Friday and the guys were all there. Our pitchers were able to throw live hitting.”
The Braves offense will be hoping to continue its success from the 14C tournament when they play Randall. The Braves were led by tournament MVP Jake Dykhoff, who put up absurd numbers when he was 14 for 15 with four home runs.
Geiser said they have a lot of depth on the mound with Dykhoff, Dustin Geiser and Justin Dykhoff. The Braves drafted Sebeka’s Kolby Kiser, New York Mills Derrin Gaudette and Logan Small.
The Braves travel down to Milroy on Aug. 29 at 11 a.m. Games can be streamed online for a small fee at prepspotlight.tv.
In other Class C Tournament action, the Snurdbirds were edged out in the opening round by Lake Henry, 3-1, when they left 15 guys on base during the opening round.