CLASS B AND C ROUNDUP SUNDAY AT DELANO: New Ulm staves off Faribault, Minneapolis and Shakopee win

By Mike Randleman

Photos via: RK Photography

Second chances don’t always come in life.

The New Ulm Brewers were left thinking what could have been in 2022 after losing to the eventual state champion Nisswa Lightning in the third round of the Class C state tournament.

New Ulm held Nisswa to a tournament-low run total in a 4-2 loss. The game was tied 2-2 through six innings.

A year later, the Brewers will meet the Lightning once again in the same round.

New Ulm advanced with a 2-1 win Sunday vs. the Faribault Lakers. In another interesting twist of fate, Faribault was the city where New Ulm’s season came to an end last summer.

Ethan Stade was lights out on the mound. The young lefty and Minnesota State University, Mankato, Maverick struck out 12 batters across eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball.

He wasn’t even sure that he’d get the start.

Mitch Bockenstadt pitched New Ulm to a 5-0 win over the Waterville Indians last weekend in round one. An infield single spoiled a no-hitter.

Faribault manager Charlie Lechtenberg said he expected to see Bockenstadt out there after scouting the Brewers.

“I just want to give a shoutout to Mitch Bockenstadt. He was thinking he was going to start today,” Stade said. “When he heard that he wasn’t, he was fairly upset, I think. I don’t know. But he was a good teammate about it and he was very supportive. He’s such an awesome guy and a great teammate.”

Bockenstadt still took the mound for the ninth inning. Aside from a broken bat infield single, he pitched a flawless inning for the save.

Any frustrations he was feeling were poured into his fastball.

It was the cherry on top of a dominant pitching performance beginning with Stade, who recently joined the team after competing in the Northwoods League for the Willmar Stingers.

“I tried to establish the fastball early, which I did,” Stade said. “It felt really, really good coming out of the hand. Tried to mix in a couple pitches here and there, throw off their rhythm, of course. I got a little tired at the end, but just tried to focus on throwing strikes and letting them hit it and letting the defense work. I know I have seven guys behind me who can all make an outstanding play if we need it.”

Some of that defense came from first baseman Zach Hoffmann, who ended a Faribault threat in the sixth inning with a catch in foul territory, reaching over the first base side fence and avoiding a cluster of fans in the process.

That preserved a 1-0 lead at the time. Hoffmann was responsible for that run on a RBI double in the top of the fourth inning.

Faribault was the home team and earned a first round bye by virtue of its Region 3 championship.

That run was valuable facing an ex-big leaguer, Jake Petricka. The former Chicago White Sox, Toronto Blue Jay and Milwaukee Brewer pitched eight innings, allowing eight hits, two earned runs and three walks with 11 strikeouts.

“Their pitcher, he’s a former major leaguer and it showed,” Stade said, “Kept us really low scoring, which I think is really hard to do with our team.”

Faribault tied the game in the seventh. Nate Rost doubled to the fence for the Lakers’ first hit out of the infield. Petricka helped his cause with a two-out, two-strike single.

New Ulm got it right back in the eighth. Justin Hoffmann led off with a double. He moved to third on a groundout to the right side.

That brought up cleanup hitter Zach Hoffmann with the go-ahead run 90 feet away.

What came next even had Brewers manager Al Flor scratching his head.

“They had a pitching visit and I went to Al and said ‘Hey, if I get a strike on me, let’s do a squeeze,’” Hoffmann said. “I’m kind of an anti-bunt guy, so he was like ‘Really?’ We talked about it and once we get one strike, let’s roll with it.”

He looked like a leadoff hitter up there, deadening a bunt down the left side as the runner came bolting toward home.

Faribault fielded it well to make for a close play at the plate, but it was too late.

“That pitcher was lights out. He’s a tough guy,” Zach Hoffmann said. “I’ve been struggling to kind of execute with runners in scoring position, so I figured I’d find a way to score a run.”

Whatever it takes to survive and advance through the single-elimination bracket.

The Brewers are now on to the coveted third weekend. A familiar foe awaits.

Stade did not compete in the 2022 state tournament due to a rotator cuff injury. He still wanted that Nisswa game back as much as the nine guys on the diamond.

“Revenge game for us,” Stade said. “I was at that game, I was watching it. It was an unfortunate ending for us, but it’s a revenge game for us. I think we’re ready this year and we’re going to surprise them.”

Zach Hoffmann is a newcomer to the squad this year. He’s just as eager as the rest.

“I wasn’t on the team last year, but I know they can swing it well,” Hoffmann said of Nisswa. “If our pitchers keep throwing like that, we’re a confident team and we feel like we can play with anyone.”

Minneapolis Cobras 7, Dundas Dukes 2

Mason Reinhart has been coming up with big hits for the Minneapolis Cobras for over a decade. He’s got three all-state tournament team selections to his name and could be on to a fourth.

Minneapolis is on to the Class B state quarterfinals after a 7-2 win vs. the Dundas Dukes. Reinhart put Minneapolis on the board right away with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning.

Nate Van Roekel hit a run-scoring single to pull Dundas within 2-1 in the third.

Shortstop Jordan Kozicky is more of a newcomer to the Cobras, but he’s already got an all-tournament team selection to his name from last year. He’s looking the part again with two home runs in two games in the 2023 tournament, including a three-run shot that padded Minneapolis’ lead to 5-1 in the fifth.

He was named player of the game after going 3-for-5 with three RBI and two runs.

Dundas had chances with runners on base throughout the game, but it was a solo shot that got it on the board next. A Carson Jones home run to dead center cut it to 5-2 in the seventh. The Dukes put their next two runners on with no outs but could not add more runs against a tiring Mitch Waletzki.

Waletzki, the former University of Minnesota, Duluth, Bulldog got the start and the win in seven innings of work. He allowed seven hits, two runs (both earned) with six walks and six strikeouts. 

Mason pitched the final two innings for the Cobras. He pitched two scoreless innings with two hits, no walks and no strikeouts.

The second baseman Reinhart went 2-for-4 with a run and RBI. Center fielder Brandon Schmahl had the Cobras other multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with a run and RBI.

Kyle Hrncir went the distance for Dundas. He racked up 13 strikeouts while allowing eight hits and four walks over eight innings.

Dundas’ offense was led by two-hit games from center fielder Jones, first baseman Van Roekel and third baseman Mike Ludwig.

Minneapolis next plays the Shakopee Indians 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2 in Delano.

Shakopee Indians 5, Stockmen’s Irish 1

Revenge is a dish best served at the state tournament.

After losing to Stockmen’s Irish in the regular season, the Shakopee Indians got one back in the second round of the Class B tournament by a 5-1 score.

It looked like it was going to be Stockman’s day once again early on as Brodie Paulson hit his second home run of the tournament, a no-doubter to right center field for a solo shot in the bottom of the first inning.

Irish pitcher Ryan Duffy held the Indians to no runs on three hits over seven innings when they beat the Indians 4-1 on June 2 in South St. Paul.

He pitched three shutout innings on Sunday before Shakopee took advantage of a couple errors to plate the tying run in the fourth.

The Indians took a 3-1 lead in the sixth thanks to three walks, a hit by pitch and an Alex Bloholm RBI grounder single that bounced off second base.

Vinny Schleper started on the mound for Shakopee. He earned a no decision in 4 2/3 innings with six hits allowed, one earned run, one walk and two strikeouts. Ethan Lenzmeier pitched 1/3 inning of relief to strand a runner on base in the fifth. He retired Paulson.

Designated hitter Aaron Olson hit a bloop single that found shallow grass down the left field line to score two more in the ninth for Shakopee. He finished 2-for-5 and was named player of the game.

Joey Connelly pitched the final four innings to earn the save for the Indians. He walked the bases loaded with nobody out in the ninth. A mound visit settled him down as he struck out the next three batters.

Duffy pitched a complete game, allowing seven hits, two earned runs out of five total and seven walks with 11 strikeouts.

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