CLASS C ROUNDUP SUNDAY AT DELANO: Maple Lake reaches title game with dramatic win

By Kip Kovar

DELANO – The Delano Athletics came into the state tournament looking to bring home a title. Playing on their own field, the A’s were looking to become the first team since 2004 to win a state title in their ballpark. The Bluffton Braves had other plans.

The Braves once again leaned on their pitching and defense on their way to picking up a 1-0 win over Delano to advance to the Class C semifinals. It was the second time in the past 24 hours Bluffton survived with a 1-0 win.

The lone run of the game came in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs, Josh Dykhoff put Bluffton in front with an RBI single, scoring Jake Dykhoff. Jake Dykhoff was not only responsible for a one-hit shutout in the win over Luverne but also scored both runs for the Braves in their pair of impressive wins.

Delano had a hard time getting its potent offense going. Sebeka draftee Kolby Kiser held the A’s to just four hits. He walked none and struck out 10.

For Delano, Marcus Riewer, Trevor Jaunich, Jack Paulson, and Jake Nelson each had one hit apiece in the loss. Litchfield draftee Avery Liestman did all he could to keep Delano in the game. He went seven innings allowing one run off eight hits while striking out seven. 

Through three games this tournament, Bluffton has allowed just three runs including back-to-back shutouts.

Maple Lake 3, Jordan 0

Runs were hard to come by for either side in game two of the day at Delano Municipal Baseball Park. As the Jordan Brewers and Maple Lake Lakers battled it out for a spot in the state semifinals, it was Maple Lake keeping their season alive with a thrilling 3-0 win over the Brewers.

Scoreless through seven innings, it looked as if it were the Brewers who were going to be the ones to finally break through. After a walk and single to open the inning, Jordan had runners on first and second with nobody looking to break a scoreless tie. With one out, Dassel-Cokato draftee Jordan Flick made his big day even bigger, snagging a line drive and doubling up the runner to get the Lakers out of the jam without allowing a run.

Maple Lake rode that momentum heading into their at-bat in the bottom half of the inning. A one-out double from Ben Clapp gave the Lakers the go-ahead run in scoring position. After intentionally walking Hunter Malachek, Donnie Mavencamp delivered with a triple to score two. A bad throw into third base allowed Mavencamp to score as well and Maple Lake took a 3-0 lead.

Flick would seal the win with a perfect ninth inning for the Lakers as they advanced to the Class C semifinals against Bluffton.

Maple Lake 8, Bluffton 6

The Maple Lake Lakers weren’t satisfied with just one win on the day. Despite playing back-to-back games in the heat, the Lakers once again found a way as they held off the Bluffton Braves for an 8-6 thrilling win to send them to the Class C state championship game. 

Bluffton held a 1-0 lead heading to the bottom half of the first only to see Maple Lake answer with a run of their own. After a scoreless second inning, Bluffton retook the lead in the top of the third but the Lakers had the answer once again. Maple Lake tied the game in the bottom of the third and took their first lead in the bottom of the fourth to go up 3-2.

A tight and back-and-forth affair early on, it was Ben Clapp who came through once again for Maple Lake with a clutch hit. In the bottom of the sixth, Clapp belted a three-run home run to push Maple Lake’s lead to 6-2. 

Just when it looked like the Braves were dead in the water, they rallied in the top of the eighth. Bluffton opened the top of the eighth with back-to-back singles from Josh Dykhoff and Justin Dykhoff. With two runners on, the Braves loaded the bases with a walk. Then it was Austin Redemske who tied the game with one swing of the bat with a pinch-hit grand slam.

Despite letting their lead slip away, there was no panic for the Lakers. Logan Orazem started the bottom of the eighth inning with a single. After a pair of walks loaded the bases, Donnie Mavencamp reached on an error that allowed two runs to score and put Maple Lake back in front for good as Hunter Malacheck sealed the win in the ninth.

Maple Lake will take on Bird Island in the Class C state championship game. Bird Island is making its first state championship game appearance while the Lakers are playing in the game for the first time since 2012 when they won it all.

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