By Byron Higgin

Minneota Mascot

MINNEOTA-Alex Guttormsson couldn’t tell a lie.

“It crossed my mind,” he said about making the last out in the high school section playoffs.

And here he was again. Hector led Minneota 1-0 with two out in the ninth with runners on second and third – and again, Guttormsson was at the plate.

“I was not going to let it happen again,” Guttormsson said. This time he lined a solid single to centerfield, Brock Buysse and Alec Engler scampered home and Minneota stayed alive in the District 7 Playoffs.

The 2-1 win earned them a chance to play Madison Tuesday night at Madison.

The heroics didn’t all belong to Guttormsson. Brock Buysse, who last week dropped a weight on his right toe during weight lifting training, didn’t dress for the Mudhen came Sunday and wasn’t in the lineup against Hector.

But when Coach Keven Larson called on him to catch as catcher Austin Buysse relieved Peyton Nuy on the mound. Ironically, he led off the seventh inning, singled and eventually scored the tying run.

“Can you run?” asked Coach Larson. “I can run,” Buysse smiled before he singled to lead off the inning.

“It’s OK. I knew I would play later in the game,” Buysse said. He revealed the fact that, “Leading off is what I love to do,” and his lead-off hit in the seventh was proof.

As for Guttormsson, “We had two men in scoring position and the main priority is to put it in play. It worked out beautifully for us,” he said.

Pitcher Peyton Nuy and Hector hurler Tate Lange were locked up in a pitcher’s battle the entire game. Nuy, who sent six innings, struck out 12 Hector batters and gave up just four hits and four walks. Lange was working on a one-hitter going into the ninth and ended with a three-hit effort with seven strikeouts. He was a bit wild, walking six batters.

Until the seventh, Justin VanKeulen had the only Minneota hit off Lange.

Austin Buysse didn’t allow anything from the mound in the seventh and gave Minneota (plus Brock Buysse and Guttormsson), a chance for their heroics.

“It was pretty fast,” Guttormsson said about the pitch he hit to win the game. It may have been a fast pitch, but it broke Tate Lange’s heart.

NOTES: Minneota will play at 7:30 p.m. at Madison Tuesday in the second round of the sectionals against, against host Madison.

The Minneota American Legion played just its fourth game of the year in the playoffs. Five other games were postponed for one reason or another – mostly bad weather. They are now 3-1 on the year.

This was a play-in-game and is single elimination. The rest of the District 7 tournament is double elimination. Win or lose Tuesday, Minneota plays on Thursday.

Granite Falls 5

Tracy 1

By Jenny Kirk

MILROY – Dylan Johnson collected 11 strikeouts on the mound and went 2-for-4 at the plate to lead the Granite Falls Legion baseball team to a 5-1 win in a play-in tournament game against Tracy Legion Monday in Milroy.

Johnson gave up three hits, no walks and one hit-by-pitch advancement in the victory for his team, which moves on to play No. 1 seed BOLD at 7 p.m. today in Bird Island.

“Dylan, he’s been our ace all summer. He throws strikes and he doesn’t walk a lot of guys,” GF coach Nick Richter said. “He’s always around the plate. He’s pitched well for us all summer and he pitched another good game tonight.”

Austin Vikander, who finished the game 3-for-4 at the plate, sparked Granite Falls in the top of the second, pounding a single up the middle to start the team’s first rally. After Chase Richter followed up with a single, Joe Sannerud blasted an RBI single to right field.

“We finally put one together and played hard enough for us to get a team win,” Vikander said. “We all hit the ball well and we all played good defense. We didn’t make any stupid mistakes. We’ve had guys on and not getting clutch hits in other games, but to be able to do it in a playoff game, that means a lot.”

Granite Falls added two more runs in the fourth to go up 3-0. Richter led off the inning by drawing a walk from Tracy pitcher Tayler Carlson. Sannerud also got on after hitting a single to center. After an errant throw from a Tracy fielder allowed Richter to advance to third, Zach Fischer was hit by a pitch, loading up the bases. Chris Jensen drove in a run after drawing a walk, and Sannerud scored on a wild pitch, but then Granite Falls went down 1-2-3.

“We had bases loaded there with no outs a couple of times,” Coach Richter said. “We ended up getting three runs, but we really could have really opened it up. Overall, though, we played well tonight in all phases of the game.”

Tracy took advantage of a dropped third strike in the bottom of the fourth. Brady Lanoue drove the ball deep to right-center and scored Carlson when the Granite Falls outfielders miscommunicated.

Granite Legion picked up two more runs in the fifth, led by a single from Johnson, and RBI double from Vikander and an RBI single from Chase Richter. In all, the team collected 10 hits in the contest.

“We still seem to leave too many guys on base, but it seems like our hitting is coming around a little bit,” Nick Richter said. “Tayler is a tough pitcher, so to get that many hits off him was good. Maybe that’s a sign that our hitting is changing a little bit.”

Carlson, who was effective at times and struggled with control at times, took the loss on the mound for Tracy. He earned seven strikeouts in the game, gave up 10 hits and four walks in addition to hitting three batters with a pitch.

Joey Felt went 1-for-2 for Tracy, while Brady Lanoue and Jordan Lanoue each went 1-for-3.

“It was a tough game,” said assistant coach Shane Erickson, who was coaching in James Fultz’ absence. “I thought we played well, but had some errors that kind of hurt us. We had some guys in different positions they weren’t used to playing, so it’s tough. You ask a lot of the kids. There can be a lot going on in the summer. Overall, I thought they had a good season. They played well. We just kind of lost it there at the end. But that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Tracy concludes its season with a 2-8 record, but more importantly, Erickson said, they got good experience and will return solid players against next year.

“They’re a hard-working bunch of kids, even with young guys coming up,” Erickson said. “They’re always trying to do better and really, they just have to keep working hard. They’re a young group and they’ll have a lot of success coming up. They just have to keep playing hard.”

Chase Richter went 2-for-3 with a walk for Granite Falls, while Sannerud was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Jensen finished 1-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch.

Granite Falls is hoping to carry momentum into the playoff game today against top-seeded BOLD. During the high school baseball season, the two teams split wins.

“We have to get on base and we have to play good defensive,” Vikander said. “We can’t make any mistakes against those guys because they’re just too good to make mistakes against. You have to play perfect to beat them.”