AUSTIN — Adam McPhail was a bit concerned about facing Owatonna in the Sub-State District 1 American Legion playoffs on Wednesday.
McPhail had pitched against Owatonna earlier in the summer and did a nice job, collecting a win and allowing just two runs. But he had fared well against other teams in a first outing this year and then struggled in a follow-up meeting. But the Rochester Redhawks' right-hander had no worries Wednesday once he settled in during the winners-bracket semifinal.
- Photos: Rochester A's, Austin American Legion baseball
McPhail tossed a two-hit shutout to lead the top-seeded Redhawks past No. 4 Owatonnna 7-0. The win moves the Redhawks into the winners-bracket title game at 1 p.m. Friday against No. 3 Austin at Marcusen Park in Austin.
"It felt pretty wonderful," McPhail said. "I was pitching against Owatonna earlier this year and really kind of had their number. Previously when I had other team's numbers, for example Century during spring, the second outing didn't go as well. But I was able to keep things interesting, keep them off-balance and throw strikes. That's all you really need."
“McPhail never ceases to amaze me,” Redhawks coach Chris Prindle said. “He’s been solid on the mound all year.”
McPhail struck out six, hit one batter and did not issue a walk. He allowed just three baserunners and retired the final 12 hitters he faced.
"I fell like I was hitting my spot with my fastball and my curveball was was staying down," McPhail said. "A lot of times I have trouble with my curveball staying up. ... Plus, my defense helped me out when I needed it."
The Redhawks played error-free ball in the field.
“The defense was amazing today,” Prindle said. “We just did everything that we worked on all year long.”
Mason Leimbek, who singled and scored in the second inning, broke open the contest with a three-run homer in the bottom of the third to give the Redhawks a 4-0 lead. That would be more than enough for McPhail.
“Leimbek going yard was really nice,” Prindle said. “He’s been hitting the ball really hard, so it was good to see him drive one and put it over the fence.”
Leimbek had two of the Redhawks' five hits. McPhail went 1-for-2, while Kyle Prindle and Sam Hruska were both 1-for-3.
Coach Prindle said Ian Regal is expected to start on the mound in the winners-bracket final against Austin.
“It’s exciting,” McPhail said. “There’s an expectation as the one seed to be able to perform, and I’m glad we’re living up to that expectation.”
Redhawks 7, Owatonna 0
No. 4 Owatonna: Matt Seykora 2-for-3. Pitchers: Brayden Truelson (LP) 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; Eli Knutson 2/3 IP, 2 K.
No. 1 Redhawks: Brevin Goetz 1 R; Kyle Prindle 1-for-3, 1 R; Ian Regal 1 RBI; Mason Leimbek 2-for-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R; Adam McPhail 1-for-2, 1 R; Sam Hruska 1-for-3, 2 R. Pitcher: Adam McPhail (WP) 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
Adam McPhail has allowed just 2 hits with 5 K's through 6 shutout innings. Redhawks lead Owatonna 6-0. pic.twitter.com/5DN5UheJBO— Guy N. Limbeck (@PBglimbeck) July 22, 2021
Austin 13, A's 6
In the other winners-bracket semifinal, Austin was down to its final at-bat against the Rochester A's, but Post 91 was still confident.
“I loved how they were playing each inning,” Austin coach Joe Ciola said. “They were moving forward and continued to go. They weren’t giving up; they didn’t act like it was over, so I had confidence in the ballplayers.”
Austin had 10 hits and five runs in the first six innings. Post 91 then scored eight runs on six hits in the seventh as the No. 3 seed rallied past the No. 2 A's 13-6. The A's led 6-5 going into the seventh.
"We were kind of playing with house money," A's coach Todd Stellmaker said. "We gave up 16 hits and not all of those were in the last inning."
“They came out hitting right away,” Ciola said. “We didn’t have a lot to show for it early on, but we had some clutch moments and obviously the seventh inning was our biggest moment.”
Jordan Ransom, who went 3-for-3, snapped a 6-6 tie with an RBI single in the top of the seventh. Cole Walter and Sam Nelson followed with RBI singles. Teyghan Hovland later provided the knockout punch with a three-run homer.
"It was huge," Hovland said of the win. "We just had some big hits."
"They had a lot of hard-hit balls," Stellmaker admitted. "We were getting a lot of breaks, but we stopped getting those the last inning."
Josh Fletcher and Peter Lynch both had two-run homers for the A's. It was Fletcher's third homer of the season and the first for Lynch, whose home run in the fifth gave the A's a 6-4 lead.
The A's were held to three hits, but they made the most of them. The A's, who had 10-run Austin just prior to the playoffs, will now play in an elimination game against either Byron or Winona at 4 p.m. Thursday at Marcusen Park.
Austin (9-12-1) has scored 21 runs in its two playoffs wins.
“Every game is important,” Ciola said. “We like that we’ve won two games, but we understand that the next one’s just as important as the first and second one.”
Austin 13, A's 6
No. 3 Austin: Sam Nelson 4-for-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 R; Anthony Ciola 1-for-5, 1 2B, 2 RBI; Teyghan Hovland 1-for-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R; Dusty Copley 1-for-4, 2 R, 2 SB; Tanner Murphy 2-for-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R; Zach Bollingberg 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 R; Jed Nelson 1 R; Jordan Ransom 3-for-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 R; Cole Walter 3-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 R. Pitchers: Dusty Copley 5 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 4 K; Cole Walter (WP) 1 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K.
No. 2 Rocheser A's: Ben Johnson 1-for-3, 1 R; Ben Ziebarth 2 R; Josh Fletcher 1-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R; Peter Lynch 1-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R; Matthew Haun 1 RBI. Pitchers: Matthew Haun 6 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K; Owen Merges (LP) 2/3 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.