PREP BASEBALL: Rabbits advance to Class A section championship tilt

MARSHALL – Wabasso’s Josh Altermatt and Neil Eichten combined for 4-0 shutout of Windom Area on Tuesday as the Rabbits lived to see another day in the Class A Section 3 Tournament at American Legion Field.

The key play in the game came with Wabasso leading 1-0 in the third inning when the Windom Area’s Zach Bartosh laid down a bunt on a squeeze play. Altermatt scrambled to his knees and flipped the ball to Rabbits catcher Caleb Salfer, who tagged Eagles baserunner Jeff Pfeffer for the final out of the frame and kept a potential run off the scoreboard.

“That ties it up if he scores and changes things real quick,” Wabasso coach Chad Olson said. “These kids are real heads-up kids. They seem to always have a plan of what they are going to do.”

For Altermatt, the play wasn’t as calculated as he made it seem.

“The only chance I had was to flip it with my glove,” Altermatt said. “It was a do-or-die play and, luckily, it worked out.”

The Rabbits did most of their damage in the fourth inning, when Beau Taylor drew a bases-loaded walk before T.J. Fulton hit into a fielder’s choice and Dirk Pistulka scored.

Wabasso plated its first run in the third inning as Eichten lined the ball to shortstop, where it was kicked for an error and Fulton came around to score.

Windom Area coach Brad Schlomann knew the Eagles had improved as the season went along, but also knew that they are a better team than what they showed.

“The way we played (Tuesday) doesn’t define our season,” Schlomann said. “I thought we had a great year overall. We had seven new starters and we started three sophomores. I hate that this is the way we went out because we didn’t play as cleanly as we should have. Congratulations to Wabasso. They played better than we did and they deserve it.”

Fulton had two RBI and Taylor added another as Wabasso pulled out the win with just three total hits compared to six for Windom Area.

Salfer had two hits while Wiliam Klann had one. Taylor and Fulton were both 0-for-1.

Wabasso received six innings from Josh Altermatt, who struck out three and walked one. Eichten worked the final inning, striking out two and allowing one hit. He stranded a Windom runner at third to end the game.

Pfeffer was the leading hitter for Windom Area, going 2-for-3.

With the term “Rabbit magic” floating around, Olson couldn’t help but think the trend continued Tuesday.

“Something interesting is happening,” Olson said. “The kids are really coming together and playing good baseball right now. We moved some kids around to make us a better defensive team and brought up an eighth grader to play first base for us (Ty Kemp). We knew playing better defense was going to be key in the playoffs.”

Wabasso 4, Windom Area 2

Windom Area 000 000 0- 0 6 1

Wabasso 001 300 X- 4 3 0

Hitting: Windom Area (Pfeffer 2-for-3; Nielsen 1-for-3; Severson 1-for-3; Wieneke 1-for-3; Bartosh 1-for-4) Wabasso (Taylor 1-for-1, RBI; Fulton 1-for-1, RBI , run; Salfer 2-for-3, run; Klann 1-for-3, run).

Pitching: Windom Area (Mellstrom 3 1/3-2-4-2-4-5; Quiring 1 2/3-0-0-0-0-0-1; Derickson 1-1-0-0-0-0-0) Wabasso ( J. Altermatt 6-5-0-0-1-1; Eichten 1-1-0-0-0-1).