Sparks helps Tri-City Red catch fire in extra-innings win over Wayzata
"Let's turn one!" Tri-City Red (Minn.) head coach Niklas Anderson yelled to his infield, referring to a double play.
Wayzata Post 118 (Minn.) batter Sam Westermeyer had just reached on an error with one out in a tie game in the bottom of the seventh. With Post 118 in the home dugout, they could end the game with a go-ahead run on first.
Keegan Nickel took to the batter's box and when he grounded to second, the Red dugout exploded, yelling "Two! Two!" Their second baseman tossed to the shortstop on the bag, who threw to first for the final out, ending the inning with the game still tied at five.
That gave the Red a chance to win it in extra innings. Tri-City, of New Brighton, Minn., used that chance to score five runs in the top of the eighth en route to a 10-5 win over Wayzata in a loser-out game of the Central Plains Regional Tournament on Thursday, Aug. 9, at Dakota Community Bank & Trust Ballpark.
"The game changer was our (No. 8) hitter putting down a sacrifice bunt with one out to get to the top of our order, which has been hotter than hot," Anderson said. "Executing that play, was huge to me. All of a sudden you got a runner in scoring position ... our lead off guy Jonah Sparks has been unbelievable. He's hard to throw to and you will not strike him out."
After Will Rogers led off with a fly out, Ty Koehn singled. Tri-City catcher Matt Herold laid down a perfect bunt along the first base line, moving Koehn to second.
Wayzata relieved starting pitcher Paul Girard with Maxwell McAthie to face Tri-City leadoff batter Jonah Sparks.
Sparks stared down two straight balls, only to be worked back up to a full count. His patience and keen eye drew a walk. The fourth ball, was also a passed ball, bringing in Koehn as the go-ahead run. Sparks used the opportunity to move to second.
"My coach showed a lot of confidence in me by having the batter in front of me lay down a bunt, so I knew he had confidence in me," Sparks said. "I just wanted to help my team win by keeping the momentum going."
With starting pitcher Brett Bateman at the plate, McAthie threw another wild pitch, prompting Sparks to run home. Bateman, who walked, scored on an RBI double from John Solfest who came home on a base knock from Ben Jepko to make it 10-5 before Wayzata turned the final out.
"I think we had a ton of moving parts and all of our guys wanted to be 'the guy' and that's why it was one after another after another," Anderson said. "It was everybody and it was base running on a big play, a lot of action, taking an extra base. We scored three extra runs by doing the little things right. In the first five innings, we didn't do that."
Jepko went 4-for-5 on the day with three RBIs. Sparks went 2-for-4 and Rogers hit 3-for-4 with a solo home run to start the fourth, giving Tri-City a 3-2 lead.
Going into the seventh, Wayzata, the Minnesota state runner-up, held a 5-3 lead over Tri-City, the state champion.
In the bottom of the sixth, Post 118 plated three runs. Westermeyer opened the inning with a single, and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Nickel. After catcher Ian Colson found the right center gap to score Westermeyer, Thomas Grochala reached on an error.
Still with just one out, Joshuah Gullickson drove home a run with a double, giving Wayzata a 4-3 advantage. Before the Red ended the inning, an RBI single from Charles Engdahl put Post 118 up 5-3.
"That's a team we lost to in the state championship game. We knew we could score runs, all we needed was a little spark," Wayzata head coach Maris Blanchard said. "That was the difference maker in why we got hits today and got more runs than yesterday. Just digging down deep."
Until the only pitching change in the eighth, Blanchard and his team kept faith in Girard, who threw 98 pitches over 7 ⅔ innings, while allowing six runs on 13 hits and walking one. In the seventh, he lost a bit of his command, allowing back-to-back hits as Tri-City tied the contest.
"They're a really good team. They score all their runs late. I think we just kind of ran out of steam," Blanchard said. "We played so many games all summer long and we just couldn't piece it together at the end there."
Tri-City Red (Minn.) 10, Wayzata (Minn.) 5 (8)
TCR 002 100 25 — 10 16 2
W 020 003 00 — 5 10 0
Brett Bateman (6), Josh Bonde (2) and Matt Herold. Paul Girard (7.2), Maxwell McAthie (0.1) and Ian Colson.
W—Bonde. L—Girard. HR—TCR, Will Rogers.
Highlights: TCR, Ben Jepko 4-5, 3 RBI; Will Rogers, 3-4, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI; John Solfest 2-5, 2 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI; Jonah Sparks 2-4, 2 R; Brett BAteman 2-5, 3B, 2 R, 1 RBI; Carter Traczyk 2-3, 2B, 2 R; Ty Koehn 1-3, 1 R; Bateman 6 IP, 8 H, 5 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 4 K; Bonde 2 IP, 2 H, 1 K. W, Ian Colson 3-4, 2B, 1 R, 2 RBI; Nick Kaye 2-4, 1 R; Sam Westermeyer 2-3, 1 R; Joshua Gullickson 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI; Delaney Dahl 1-4; Charles Engdahl 1-5, 1 RBI; Girard 7.2 IP, 13 H, 6 R (6 ER), 1 BB, 1 HR; McAthie 0.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R 94 ER), 2 BB.