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Paynesville Press - June 14, 2006

Dogs advance to state tourney again

By Michael Jacobson

The Bulldogs baseball team won the Section 5AA title for the second straight year, beating Litchfield 9-6 for the title on Thursday at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud. The Dogs ran their winning streak to five games in the playoffs and seven games overall and qualified for state for the third time in school history.

Tag out With the win, the Dogs (19-4) will advance to the state tournament for the second consecutive year. They will play Mora (15-8-1) on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. in St. Cloud at Dick Putz Field. They will play either Morris (11-9) or Maple River (22-4) in the second round at state. Win or lose, the Dogs will play again at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, on Dick Putz Field if they win against Mora and on Joe Faber Field if they lose. State Baseball Bracket

Senior secondbaseman Ryan Hess tried to tag out Litchfield's Marcus Buschette in the second inning after Buschette overslid second base. Hess led the Dogs with two hits and three RBIs in their 10-1 win over Delano.

The section final pitted a rematch between the Dogs and the Dragons, whom the Dogs beat 4-3 for the subsection title the week before. The Dragons, who won two games on Tuesday to reach the finals through the loser's bracket, needed to beat the Dogs twice on Thursday, while the Dogs only needed to win one game to reach state again.

The Dragons took a 2-0 lead over the first three innings, with the Dogs finally scoring in the top of the fourth. With one out, senior Ryan Hess started the rally with a walk. Junior Steve Gerding then lined a single to right, and senior Derek Stanger blooped a single to left-center to drive in the first run.

After a fielder's choice, senior Trent Hansen walked to load the bases, and senior John Hemingson - who beat the Dragons with a walk-off homer in the subsection final - drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game 2-2. Senior James Paul followed with a two-run single to center, giving the Dogs a 4-2 lead, with Hansen scoring on a nifty slide at home.

Hemingson then stole third, and junior pinchrunner Sam Bayer stole second, setting the table for junior Cory Nietfeld to hit another two-run single for a 6-2 lead.

In the subsection final, the Dragons' infield defense was flawless, robbing the Dogs of several runs. In the section final, the Dragons' defense committed six errors, allowing three unearned runs.

Hansen and Naujokas high five The Dogs added an unearned run in the top of the fifth with Hess reaching on an infield single and then being forced out with Gerding being safe at first. With two outs, junior Alex Naujokas hit an infield single with the throw getting past the Dragons' first baseman. Gerding scored all the way from first on the play for a 7-2 lead.

Senior Trent Hansen and junior Alex Anujokas were greeted by their teammates after they both scored on senior James Paul's two-run single in the fourth inning against Litchfield on Thursday. Hansen beat the tag at home with a nifty slide and ended the game by making a shoestring catch.

The Dragons answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth, but the Dogs got two more unearned runs in the sixth. Paul's single was followed by two infield errors by the Dragons.

The Dogs took a 9-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, when Paul tired on the mound. Litchfield loaded the bases with one out on a single, walk, and hit batter. Another walk by Paul scored a run and brought the tying run to the plate for the Dragons.

Hemingson and Paul then switched positions, with Hemingson relieving Paul on the mound and Paul moving to catcher. With the bases loaded, Hemingson walked the first batter he faced, scoring another run for the Dragons and bringing the winning run to the plate. But Hemingson then induced a fly to short center for the second out, and Hansen, in centerfield, charged a looping liner for a shoestring catch for the final out.

This week, the Dogs will play in the Class AA state tourney in baseball for the third time in school history (and the third time in the past five years). In 2002, the Dogs finished fifth in Class AA in their first state appearance. Last year, the Dogs won the Class AA state title, winning three games at state.

Only two teams return to the Class AA field at state this year: Paynesville and Pipestone, coached by 1982 PHS grad Rick Zollner. The Dogs beat Pipestone 8-3 in the finals last year.

In the upper bracket at state, Pipestone (17-7), ranked #10, will play Winona Cotter (24-3), ranked #2, and Roseau (22-0), ranked #1, will play St. Anthony Village (22-3), ranked #6.

In the lower bracket, the Dogs will play Mora, while Morris plays Maple River, ranked #8.

Paynesville-- 000 612 0 - 99 0
Litchfield-- 020 020 2 - 6 10 6

Paynesville - Batting: James Paul 3-5 R-2 RBI-2; Steve Gerding 2-3 R-2; Ryan Hess 1-3 R; Alex Naujokas 1-4 R; Cory Nietfeld 1-4 R RBI-2; Derek Stanger 1-4 RBI; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Meyer (L) (5-1-0-0-0-6).

Litchfield - Batting: Jon Lieser 1-3 RBI; Chris Rohe 0-4; Jeremy Fuchs 1-2; Ryan Schneider 1-4; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Lieser (W) (5-1-0-0-0-6).

Paynesville 10, Delano 1
The Dogs jumped to an early 4-0 lead in the top of the first and defeated Delano - the champions of the Wright County Conference and Subsection 17AA - 10-1 in the first round of Section 5AA play on Tuesday, June 6. This game was scheduled for Monday, June 5, but was postponed due to the weather.

With the win, the Dogs advanced to the section final, while the Tigers moved into the loser's bracket.

With one out in the top of the first, the Dogs loaded the bases with a walk to senior Trent Hansen, a single by senior John Hemingson, and a walk to senior James Paul. Junior Cory Nietfeld gave the Dogs the lead with an RBI single.

Delano then missed a chance to end the inning on a comebacker to the mound, which their pitcher dropped and then threw to first for the second out. This run-scoring fielder's choice gave the Dogs a 2-0 lead. Senior Ryan Hess followed with a two-out two-run single for the Dogs, increasing the lead to 4-0.

Hemingson pitched a complete-game four-hitter, allowing only an unearned run in the third.

The Tigers cut the deficit to 4-1 with that run, but the Dogs answered with six runs in the top of the fifth. Hansen singled, and Hemingson doubled over the rightfielder's head. Paul hit a two-run single to center, Nietfeld singled and stole second, and Hess delivered another run with a single.

Junior Steve Gerding doubled, and Hansen, in his second at bat in the inning, hit a two-run single.

Delano - rated #4 in the Class AA rankings, to #3 for Paynesville - proceeded to lose to Litchfield 4-3 on Tuesday and were eliminated. The Tigers entered the section tourney with a record of 20-3 and finished their season 20-5.

Paynesville-- 400 060 0 - 1013 2
Delano-- 001 000 0 - 1 4 1

Paynesville - Batting: Ryan Hess 2-2 RBI-3 R; Trent Hansen 2-3 R-2 RBI-2; John Hemingson 2-4 2B R-2; Cory Nietfeld 2-4 R-2 RBI; James Paul 1-2 RBI-2 R-2 BB-2; Derek Looman 1-1 2B; Mark Andrie 1-4 RBI; Steve Gerding 1-4 R; Alex Naujokas 1-4; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Hemingson (W) (7-4-1-0-2-4).

Delano - Batting: Kent Koch 1-2 R; Joe Althoff 1-2; Ryan Hayes 1-3; Jeff Althoff 1-3; Pitching: (ip-h-r-er-bb-k) Tyler Jerde (L) (4.2-8-7-7-2-4); Dan Willer (2.1-5-2-2-3-1).

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