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The 2017 playoff season is upon us as today kicks off a wild week of playoff action.
Later this afternoon, the 5th seed Albert Lea Lakers will take on the 4th seed Bancroft Bandits in a one-game winner take all contest. The winning team will take on the the 1st seed Carroll Merchants in a best-two-out-of-three series that will begin tomorrow in Carroll.
On the other side of the bracket, the 3rd seed Sioux Falls Gold will take on the 2nd seed Storm Lake Whitecaps in their own best-two-out-of-three series that will begin on Monday.
The two teams that win their best-two-out-of-three series will play in another two-out-of-three series for the league title. That series will begin on Thursday and run through Saturday.
(5) Albert Lea at (4) Bancroft – 4:00PM
(Winner of AL/BAN) at (1) Carroll – 7:05PM – Game 1
(3) Sioux Falls vs (2) Storm Lake – 7:05PM – Game 1 – Location TBD
(Winner of AL/BAN) vs (1) Carroll – 7:05PM – Game 2 – Location TBD
(3) Sioux Falls vs (2) Storm Lake – 7:05PM – Game 2 – Location TBD
(Winner of AL/BAN) vs (1) Carroll – 7:05PM – Game 3 – Location TBD *if necessary
(3) Sioux Falls vs (2) Storm Lake – 7:05PM – Game 3 – Location TBD *if necessary
League Finals – Game 1 – Location TBD
League Finals – Game 2 – Location TBD
League Finals – Game 3 – Location TBD *if necessary
Sioux Falls 1 Bancroft 0
On most nights, scoring just one run won’t be enough to get a team in the win column, on Tuesday night, it was all the Sioux Falls Gold needed to defeat the Bancroft Bandits.
Just two days after putting up 25 runs on the Albert Lea Lakers, the Bandits were shut down by the Sioux Falls Gold pitching staff.
Tyler Mitzel and Brody Hagel-Pitt combined to hold Bancroft to just 2 hits. Because Mitzel didn’t complete five innings, Hagel-Pitt ended up picking up the win, throwing five shutout innings, allowing just one hit and facing the minimum number of batters.
Mitzel only allowed a pair of baserunners, one reaching on a base hit and one reaching on an error. Mitzel struck out six while Hagel-Pitt sat down four hitters.
Cole Jensen scored the game’s only run, scoring on a Bancroft error in the 7th inning.
The Gold only had three hits of their own, Lucas Barry, Trent Herman and Matt Morgan picking them up. Sioux Falls had multiple chances to break the game open but ended up stranding 12 runners on the evening.
Colin Brophy and Joey Machuga had the only hits for the Bandits in a losing effort.
The Gold improve to 5-7 with the win while the Bandits drop to 6-6. These two teams will meet again tomorrow night to wrap up their two game set.
Albert Lea 3 Bancroft 2
ALBERT LEA, Minn. – Two big flies was all the offense the Albert Lea Lakers would need to hold off the Bancroft Bandits in another tightly contested game at Hayek Field.
A two-run home run from Darek Sargent and a solo shot from Jamell Newson was enough to beat the Bandits as Oracio DeLeon threw a gem on Wednesday night.
In just 107 pitches, DeLeon spread out seven Bancroft hits over the course of the entire game, allowing just two runs and striking out a season high nine batters. The key for the pitcher was getting ahead in the count. He started with a strike to 25 of the 34 batters he faced, thats a 74% first-strike percentage.
Sargent’s only hit of the game came in the third inning as his home run broke the scoreless tie.
Bancroft responded with a RBI single from Alex Remy, his hit scored Colin Brophy who led off the fourth with a triple.
One inning later, Delta State’s Jamell Newson launched a solo home run to give the Lakers their two-run lead back again, 3-1.
Once again, the Bandits had an immediate answer. Brophy’s second extra base hit of the night found him on second with one out.* Joey Machuga* belted the offering from DeLeon and scored Brophy to make the game 3-2.
That would be as close as the Bandits would get as DeLeon appeared to get better as the game went on. He only allowed two baserunners in the final two innings and struck out the 1-2-3 hitters in the top of the 8th.
The right-hander gets his first win as a Laker and takes home the honor of throwing the first complete game in franchise history.
Six different players each registered a hit for both teams. Albert Lea continues their busy week as they head to Carroll tomorrow for a date with the Merchants. The Bandits will head back to Bancroft and patiently wait for the Lakers to visit them on Friday night.
Sioux Falls 14 Storm Lake 4
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – They said one inning can lose you a ballgame, well for the Sioux Falls Gold, one inning won them their game tonight against the Storm Lake Whitecaps.
An 11 run second inning propelled the Gold to a dominant 14-4 win against the Whitecaps on Wednesday night.
Lucas Berry led the offensive attack for the Gold, he went 3 for 5 with a double and two RBI. He also scored three runs. Patrick O’Donnell had a pair of hits of his own, including a double, two runs scored, and two RBI. Cole Jensen reached base four times as he had two hits, a walk and was also hit by a pitch.
Ben Moran got the start and the win for the Gold, he threw five innings, gave up five hits, walked two, struck out four while allowing just a single run.
Casey Berg and Andrew Kasperbauer led the Storm Lake offense as they each logged a pair of hits. Berg added a pair of walks to his stat line while Kasperbauer knocked in a run.
Cade Moring took the loss on the hill as he allowed 11 runs, only 5 earned, over the course of three innings. He gave up five hits and relinquished six free passes.
The Whitecaps will be off until Friday, thats when they host the Carroll Merchants at Memorial Park. The Gold will have to wait until Saturday when the travel to Carroll for a battle with the Merchants.
On this edition of the Pioneer League Podcast, we chat with the coach of the Storm Lake Whitecaps, Nic Seaman. We talk about his time growing up in Storm Lake and what it’s like to lead the rebirth of Whitecaps baseball.
You can listen to the whole episode here:
Storm Lake 3 Bancroft 1
Eze Encarnacion’s single in the ninth was the difference as the Storm Lake Whitecaps topped the Bancroft Bandits 3-1 in Bancroft Saturday night.
The late inning heroics continued for the Whitecaps, one night after Christian Pena’s single scored two runs in the ninth and won the game against Albert Lea, it was Encarnacion’s turn to be the hero. His single plated Mason Pryzbilla and Tony Nichols, helping the Whitecaps win their second game in a row and third of the season.
The Whitecaps never trailed in this game as they scored the game’s first run all the way back in the third inning, Anthony Stewart scored on a Bancroft error.
The Bandits would tie the game at one when Alex Remy led off the bottom of the fifth with a lead off home run. Bancroft would load the bases later in that same inning but Whitecaps starter Spencer Wyent got Bo Fricks to ground to end the inning.
It would be the Whitecaps loading the bases in the seventh with just one out, but Bancroft pitched Dion Felger induced a 1-2-3 double play to escape the jam and keep the game tied.
Both teams went down in order in the eighth to set up the ninth inning drama. Bancroft elected to Felger start the ninth but after a hit by pitch and an error gave the Whitecaps runners on the corners, Felger was lifted for Thomas Ruwe.
After another error loaded the bases, Ruwe got leadoff hitter Casey Berg to pop up.
But on the very first pitch of the at bat, Encarnacion got the pitch he wanted and drove in the go ahead runs.
Bancroft would get the tying runs on in the bottom of the ninth but Clayton Lieb got Todd Jackson to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game and pick up the win.
Both starting pitchers were incredible in this game, Wyent threw seven strong innings, giving up five hits, three walks, and just the one run while striking out four. Dion Felger threw 8+ innings, all three Storm Lake runs were charged to him. He allowed seven hits over the course of the night, walked only one and struck out three.
Clayton Lieb ends up getting the win for Storm Lake. He threw two no-hit innings and struck out the side in the eighth.
Berg, Pena, and Stewart all finished with two hits for the Whitecaps, while Remy finished 1 for 3, and Colin Brophy logged a double for the Bandits.
These two teams will finish their weekend series today in Storm Lake.
Carroll 8 Sioux Falls 7
After being shutout by the Sioux Falls pitching staff for 14 consecutive innings, the Carroll Merchants offense finally solved the Gold puzzle and was able to leave town with a split of their weekend series.
A wild pitch allowed Bradley Sanford to score what would be the game-winning run in the top of the ninth of Carroll’s 8-7 victory in Sioux Falls.
The Merchants fell behind early as Patrick O’Donnell crushed a 2-run home run to left field, that is his first of the summer and the Gold has a 2-0 lead.
It would stay quiet all the way until the sixth as Sioux Falls starter David Flattery was cruising along. He was lifted for Caleb Stratmoen and that’s when Carroll found their groove.
Two hits, three free passes and one wild pitch allowed the Merchants to score three runs and take the lead. Nolan Friedrichs and Eric Yachinich each had RBI singles in the inning.
The Gold would respond in their next at bat. With a runner on first and two outs, Matt Morgan singled, Cole Jensen doubled, and John Holleran singled to give Sioux Falls three runs back. Three batters later Lucas Berry worked a bases loaded walk to score Holleran and give the Gold a 6-3 lead.
In the eighth, Sanford would welcome new pitcher Brody Hagel-Pitt to the game with a leadoff home run to right center field. Then with Yachinich and Mitchell McCallister on, Zach Berry’s ground out scored Yachinich to bring Carroll within one.
Next batter, Zach Ruckman, picked a very opportune time for his first hit of the game, that scored McCallister and tied the game at six.
To the ninth we go, still tied, the Merchants get runners on the corners with just one out. Sioux Falls elects to intentionally walk pinch-hitter Michael Davila which loads the bases for Yachinich. The 0-1 pitch gets away from Hagel-Pitt, hits Yachinich which allows the go-ahead run to score. Sanford would score on a wild pitch in the next at bat to make the score 8-6 heading to the bottom of the ninth.
An interesting decision by Carroll manager Zak Larkin to pull Jeremy Thorson before the ninth, Thorson had sat down out six Gold players he had faced, including striking out the side in the eighth.
Instead it would be Connor Forsythe looking for the save and he would lose a nine-pitch at bat to Tiegen Lindner who singled to start the inning. After striking out the next batter, in an attempt to pick off Lindner, Forsythe makes an errant throw to allow Lindner to advance to third. To make matters worse, Forsythe is then called for a balk and Lindner is allowed to score. O’Donnell would win his nine-pitch at bat and walk.
With the winning run at the plate, the Merchants go to Jacob Rosales out of the pen. After striking out clean-up hitter Derek Dahlke for the 2nd out, Rosales allows a single to Ford Schroeder which puts the winning run on base. A wild pitch would move the tying and winning runs into scoring position.
Morgan would end up walking on yet another nine-pitch at bat, giving Cole Jensen a shot at another Sioux Falls walk-off.
Rosales would dig deep and strike out Jensen on three pitches securing the save for himself and the win for his team.
Nolan Friedrichs was on fire Saturday as he finished 4 for 4, with a RBI and a walk. Yachinich finished 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and a hit by pitch. In addition to his home run, Bradley Sanford had two hits, 2 runs scored, a walk and was also hit by a pitch.
Thorson gets the win after two shutout innings, Rosales gets the first save of the year for the Merchants.
For the Gold, O’Donnell and Jensen had the only extra bases hits. The offense was as balanced as it could be, Sioux Falls finished with six hits, all coming from six different players. They showed great patience at the plate, drawing nine walks on the day.
Brody Hagel-Pitt gets the loss after surrendering five runs in the final two innings of the game, David Flattery winds up with the no decision despite throwing five shutout innings.
The Gold return to action on Tuesday as they travel to take on the Storm Lake Whitecaps, while the Merchants are off until Thursday when they host the Albert Lea Lakers.