Connor Preston applies a tag to a basestealer during a Section 1AA playoff game against Triton on May 31, 2021 at Zumbrota-Mazeppa High School. Jake Pfeifer / Republican Eagle

ZUMBROTA — It took nine innings to decide the winner between No. 4 seed Zumbrota-Mazeppa and fifth-seeded Triton in the first round of the Section 1AA playoffs on Monday. During the nine innings of play, all but one half of them were pitched by the starting pitchers of both teams. Coincidentally, that half inning is when Triton struck hardest, earning the 3-1 win.

The Cougars were the first team to put a run on the board, with their one and only run coming in the first inning. Mitchell Meyer led off with a single and was moved over to second on a sac bunt by Peter Meyer. Willie Holm III then drove him home with a single to give Z-M an early 1-0 lead. Kaleb Stensland followed that with a single and a stolen base to put runners on second and third with one out. The next two Cougars struck out however, ending the chance at more runs.

Triton responded quickly with one run of its own in the second inning to tie the game 1-1 — a score that would remain until the ninth inning. In between that span, the Cobras managed to place just one baserunner in scoring position, while eight batters struck out.

Although the score remained deadlocked for the next six innings, Z-M had some close calls. The first of which came in the third inning when Connor Preston hit a one-out double but was left stranded at third base. Then in the eighth inning, the Cougars let a golden opportunity escape. With one out and two on base, Triton chose to intentionally walk Holm to load the bases for Stensland. The gutsy move paid off for the Cobras as Stensland hit a soft ground ball to the pitcher who started the 1-2-3 double play to get out of the jam.

It was the next half inning that Triton broke through for two runs of its own after Z-M starting pitcher Ethan Kovars reached his pitch count limit. Peter Meyer came on in relief and got the first out right away, but a single and double put two runs on the board for the Cobras, which ended up being the last runs scored by either team.

Pitching stats: Kovars (8 IP, 9 K, 1 BB, 3 H, 1 ER), Peter Meyer (1 IP, 2 K, 2 H)

Batting stats: Mitchell Meyer (2 H, 1 R), Peter Meyer (1 H), Holm III (1 H, 1 BB), Stendsland (1 H, 1 SB), Preston (1 H, 1 SB), Tanner Gates (2 H)

With the loss, Z-M ended its season with an  8-7 overall record.

Goodhue upsets Stewartville in first round

In its first 14 games of the season, Goodhue scored a total of 22 runs. In the three games leading up to its Section 1AA first-round playoff game against Stewartville on Monday, the Wildcats scored 20. Goodhue couldn’t have asked for a better time for its offense to come alive and that trend continued against the third-seeded Tigers as the Wildcats stole a 10-7 victory.

Stewartville was up 2-0 for the first two innings, but Goodhue broke through in the third inning for four runs to take its first lead of the game. The lead wouldn’t last for long though as Stewartville tied the game up in the bottom of the inning and then reclaimed the lead in the fourth.

Goodhue evened things out with a run in the top of the sixth, but once again Stewartville had an answer to recover its lead in the bottom half of the inning. Entering the final inning of the game up 6-5, it was looking promising that Stewartville would at least push the game into extra innings if not end Goodhue’s season. The Wildcats had other plans however, scoring five runs in the top of the seventh to go up 10-6. Stewartville did scratch across one run in the bottom of the seventh but couldn’t mount anything more, ending their season after one playoff game.

Pitching stats: Logan Vogel (7 IP, 7 K, 3 BB, 14 H, 6 ER)

Batting stats: Ryley Christianson (1 H, 1 R), Logan Ferguson (2 R, 1 H), Ethan Matthees (2 R), Vogel (2 H, 2 R, 2 RB, 1 2B), Kade Altendorf (1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB), John Collins (2 H, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB), Adam Poncelet (1 H, 1 RBI, 1 BB), Kam Zetah (2 H, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 2B)

Goodhue, 4-14, is next scheduled to travel to No. 2 seed Pine Island on Thursday in the second round of the Section 1AA playoffs. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.

Lake City bounced in first round

Drawing the No. 8 seed in the Section 1AA baseball playoffs, Lake City knew it was in for a challenge right off the bat with top-seeded Caledonia lined up as its first opponent. The Tigers were predictably outmatched in the game as well, falling 8-0 and ending their season after one postseason game.

Despite the lopsided score, Caledonia slowly built up its lead, first going ahead 1-0 with three innings in the books. The Warriors slowly ramped up the pressure from there however, scoring one run in the fourth, two in the fifth and four in the sixth to complete their win. 

With the loss, Lake City ends its baseball season with a 7-13 record overall.

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