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Southland after first trip to state baseball tournament

By Scott A. Kolb

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

Southland heads back to the Class A, Section One baseball tournament seeking the first trip to state in school history.

Last year, the Southland Rebels got to the championship round of the Section 1A playoffs, but lost to Wabasha-Kellogg. That was as far as any Southland baseball team had been in post-season play in 30 years.

Battling through Chatfield and W-K was the road the Southland boys had to take last year in the post-season and they’ll have to do it again this year. Chatfield (15-8) plays Southland (21-2) in the first game of the section at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Hudson Field in Rochester.

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The Wabasha-Kellogg Falcons (20-3) have the opportunity to defend the Section 1A crown they won last season. The Hayfield Vikings (11-12) took second-place in the West Subsection and are the first round opponent for the defending section champs on Saturday.

Familiar foe

Playing the Chatfield Gophers is nothing new for the Rebels, the two teams battled it out twice during the regular season in the Three Rivers Conference. Still, it’s the tournament games the last few years that have solidified this as a bonafide rivalry.

Despite the intense and sometimes bitter nature of this rivalry, the Rebels dominated the two previous meetings this season with wins of 10-0 and 13-3 as both ended via the 10-run rule in five innings.

"Here we go again, it’s been a great rivalry and it’s going to be a good section tournament," Southland coach Scott Retterath said. "We know it’s very difficult to beat a team three times (Chatfield), and what happened during the regular season means nothing.

"We’ve been telling the kids it’s just one game at a time, and to play your best. Everybody’s record is now 0-0, so we’ll just play the games and see what happens."

Southland split its two meetings against Wabasha-Kellogg this season. Hayfield is the only team in the section not from the Three Rivers Conference.

Battling the Baums

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For most of this decade, Section 1A has been owned by Chatfield coach Brian Baum and his Gophers teams. Chatfield is looking for its fifth section title in the last eight years.

Molly Baum, Brian’s father, coached the Gophers for many years prior to his son and they won a slew of subsection titles during his tenure. That was back when the subsection tournament was played at Marcusen Park in Austin.

Two years ago, Chatfield was in the same subsection with Southland and the two teams waged an epic battle for the title at Dick Seltz Field in Austin. The Gophers pulled the game out by scoring the winning run on a controversial play at the plate. The Gophers base runner plowed into Rebels catcher Derek Emanuel to touch home plate with the decisive run.

This was not forgotten in last year’s battles at Mayo Field in Rochester. Through rain delays and rescheduled games, the Gophers and Rebels once again engaged in a knock down, drag-out war on the diamond.

This time, the Southland boys prevailed in extra innings and finally eliminated their nemeses from Chatfield, but the struggle took its toll. Wabasha-Kellogg won its first section title in a quarter of a century with a 9-8 win over Southland in last year’s final.

"Brian does a good job, and his teams are always ready to play," Retterath said. "Bryan Neis and Mitch Obey lead their team and they have another good left-handed pitcher, plus a strong supporting cast. I expect this to be a tough game. It’s going to be a good tourney, when you get to this time of the year you need a couple of breaks to move on. Hopefully, it ends with a trip to state."

Starting pitchers

During their run to the Section 1A, West Subsection title, the Rebels used three different starting pitchers and all of them won a game. Mitch Nagele won the opener, Brian Voigt got the win in the second game, and Kody Retterath was on the hill for the championship game.

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The only thing that might be of concern to the Rebels coach was the lopsided nature in which team romped through the subsection. The Rebels outscored their opponents by a combined score of 48-8 in the three subsection wins.

During the regular season, the Rebels averaged nearly 12 runs per game and they have continued that prolific trend so far in the post-season. Voigt and Retterath, both seniors, are the likely starting pitchers for Saturday’s games, but the coach hasn’t decided in what order they will appear on the mound.

"Even though we weren’t really tested in the subsection, we played some tight games late in the regular season in the conference and I was happy with the way the kids responded," coach Retterath concluded. "We were behind 6-1 at St. Charles and then came back to win 19-6.

"I haven’t decided on my starter for the game against Chatfield. Kody was hit by the ball and scuffed the skin on his throwing hand in an at-bat against Hayfield, but he started the title game and he’ll be fine. Brian was dominant in his start against Hayfield and only gave up one run. I know both of my seniors will be ready when called on, and Mitch has also been a solid pitcher throughout the season. We’re ready to go and it should be a fun tournament."

There will be a loser’s bracket game to follow the first round and then a winner’s game after that on the opening day of the double-elimination tournament. One of the four teams will be eliminated on Saturday, then the remaining teams return to Hudson Field on Tuesday night.

SECTION ONE, CLASS A

Final Four at Hudson Field

(Double-elimination)

SATURDAY, MAY 31

First round

Southland (21-2) vs. Chatfield (15-9), 10 a.m.

Wabasha-Kellogg (20-3) vs. Hayfield (11-12), 12:30 p.m.

Elimination game

First round losers, 3 p.m.

Winner’s bracket

First round winners, 5:30 p.m.

TUESDAY, JUNE 3

Elimination game, 5 p.m.

Championship, 7:30 p.m.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4

Championship, if needed, 7:30 p.m.

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