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Hayfield speaks with strong Voyce, but Southland prevails

Rebels take section championship

By Scott A. Kolb

skolb@postbulletin.com

Hayfield pitcher MacEagon Voyce threw two complete games on Tuesday and almost extended the Section One, Class A baseball playoffs at Hudson Field.

Starting off the last day of the section tournament with a 10-0 win in five innings over Chatfield, the Hayfield Vikings then rode the efforts of their ace pitcher to a close battle with the Southland Rebels in the championship round.

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In the end, Kody Retterath threw a two-hit shutout and the Rebels scratched out a 2-0 win over the Vikings to take the section title.

The top-seeded Rebels had bashed their way into the championship game by averaging eight-plus runs in two previous sections wins, but this time they faced a scrappy Vikings team and it was a struggle to beat them for the third time in the post-season. It was a scoreless pitcher’s duel for the first three-and-a-half innings in the title game.

Early struggles

Voyce opened the bottom of the first inning by issuing a walk to Matt Schroeder and then hitting Jake Chapek with a pitch. This looked like the perfect recipe for disaster, but the Vikings hurler showed his resolve.

Facing the heart of the Rebels powerful batting order, Voyce fired three straight strikeouts to end the threat. This was a sign of things to come as it would stay close the whole way.

"I expected a tough game, and we had to earn the section title," Southland coach Scott Retterath said. "We battled hard and took advantage of their miscues. Hats off to Voyce, he pitched a great game."

While the Rebels offense struggled to find its rhythm that wasn’t the case on the pitcher’s mound. Retterath allowed a couple of base runners in the top of the first, then retired the next 10 straight batters.

Marathon pitching

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Voyce matched zeroes on the scoreboard with Retterath, until the bottom of the fourth. The Rebels scored an unearned run in the fourth inning, but Voyce continued to baffle the powerful batting order. The heroic effort by Voyce on the mound kept his team in contention.

"We closely monitored his pitch count in the Chatfield game and he only threw 57 pitches, so it was like an extended bullpen session," Hayfield coach Craig Selk said. "Mac came to me between games and said he was ready to go. He’s our superman, and it was a great game."

Southland second baseman Winston Smith changed the outlook of this game in the sixth inning with his dazzling play in the field and the only extra-base hit of the night.

In the top of the sixth, a Southland error on a hard hit grounder by Tyler Krekling of Hayfield opened the door to a potential rally. Voyce came up next and laced a liner that appeared to be headed into right field.

Smith ranged to his left and knocked down the ball. He then made a quick relay to first and threw Voyce out. Krekling reached second, but the defensive gem had turned the tide.

Retterath side-stepped the trouble by inducing a groundout and then, striking out Travis Kauffman to end the threat.

Following his heroics in the field, Smith hit a double to open the bottom of the sixth. He then tagged up on a fly out, and scored the final run on a single by Mitch Nagele.

Voyce had battled gamely and gave his team a chance to continue their quest for a state tournament spot, but it wasn’t enough to pull out a win. Throwing nearly 180 pitches on the day, Voyce gained the respect of friend and foe.

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"My arm doesn’t really ever hurt and I knew it was do-or-die, so I wanted to be on the mound against Southland," Voyce said. "It felt good to play them close. We had a good tournament run."

High drama

In the top of the seventh, Retterath walked Ben Pollock to open the inning. Once again, Smith and his glove would play a central role in curbing a threat.

A fielder’s choice erased Pollock from the base paths and left Tyler Nelson on first with one out for the Vikings. Smith snared the grounder and fired to shortstop Brian Voigt to get the lead runner.

Sensing the title was within his grasp, Retterath next got a strikeout. This brought the most dangerous hitter for the Vikings to the plate.

Darin Wagner hit two home runs last Saturday in the section. A first inning home run by Wagner was the only offense for the Vikings in two section losses to the Rebels.

"We wanted Darin to be up there with a guy on base and that’s what happened," Hayfield coach Craig Selk said. "I knew Kody wouldn’t back down. Even if his dad told him to walk Darin, he wouldn’t have done it. Those two guys are good friends and they love to compete against each other."

With eighth-grader Steven Serratore on deck, the strategy for walking Wagner had some merit. In the end, the consensus was reached to pitch to Wagner. It proved to be the right decision as a fielder’s choice groundout ended the season for Hayfield.

Hayfield finished the season with a 13-14 record. Southland (24-2) takes its 21-game winning streak to the first round of the Class A State Tournament next Thursday morning at the Jordan Mini Met.

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

SOUTHLAND 2, HAYFIELD 0

Hayfield 000 000 0 — 0 2 2

Southland 000 101 x — 2 4 2

Hayfield: Steven Serratore 1-3; Tyler Nelson 1-3. LP: MacEagon Voyce 6 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 3 BB, 2 HB, 6 K.

Southland: Matt Schroeder 1-2, 2 walks, SB; Kody Retterath 1-3, run; Winston Smith 1-2, 2B, walk, run; Mitch Nagele 1-3, RBI; Chris May 0-2, SB, RBI. WP: Retterath 7 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 3 BB, 6 K.

ELIMINATION GAME

HAYFIELD 10, CHATFIELD 0, 5 INN.

Chatfield 000 00 — 0 2 0

Hayfield 106 3x — 10 10 1

Chatfield: Dustin Priebe 1-2, 2B. LP: Phil Bray 2 IP, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 H, 5 BB, 1 K.

Hayfield: Serratore 1-2, RBI; Derek Petersen 2-3, 3B, run, 2 RBI; Voyce 1-2, 2B, run, RBI. WP: Voyce 5 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 K.

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