Blue Devils baseball advances to region
Riverland needed all three games of the series to dispatch of Central Lakes in the state playoffs over the weekend.
After losing the opener on Friday, the Riverland Blue Devils rallied to win the next two games and advanced into the Region 13 Tournament. Riverland led 2-0 in the second game, when weather forced it to be postponed.
Finishing off the second game Saturday, the Blue Devils closed it out for a 2-0 win. They continued their momentum with a flurry of runs in the decisive third game. The Blue Devils scored four runs in the first inning and wrapped up the series with an 8-0 win.
Connor Hurst finished off the second game and then, cruised through seven innings for the win in the third game. He had 13 strikeouts in the clincher.
"We had Connor on a 100-pitch count and he did an impressive job on the mound," Riverland coach Scott Koenigs said. "He went after hitters and never let them get anything going. We scored eight runs in that last game, but we also left a lot of guys on base and probably should've ended it in five innings."
Braden Hunkins was the main catalyst in the offensive uprising for the Blue Devils in the last game. Hunkins hit a pair of doubles and drove in three runs to help Riverland advance in the post-season.
Tyler Krekling also found the rhythm with his bat in the late game. He collected a pair of hits and scored a run in the lopsided win.
"We bounced back after the loss in the first game and the guys played well on Saturday," Koenigs said. "We're excited to move on in the playoffs. It's a toss-up in the region and there are a number of solid teams in the tourney. We'll likely be the second seed, but every game will be tough and you have to earn a trip to the JUCO World Series."
Riverland (34-12) opens play in the Region 13 Tournament on Thursday in St. Cloud. The seeds and the game times will be announced later today.
RIVERLAND 2, CENTRAL LAKES 0
Cent. Lakes .....#000#000#0#—#0#1#1
Riverland: Donte Bledsoe 0-for-4, SB; Michael Knutson 0-for-2, BB; Matt Boswell 1-for-3; Victor Claudio 0-for-2, BB; Tyler Krekling 1-for-3; Aaron Palmer 1-for-3, R; Chris May 2-for-3, R. WP:Ben Schaben 5 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 5 K. SV: Connor Hurst 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K.
RIVERLAND 8, CENTRAL LAKES 0
Cent. Lakes .......#000#000#0—#0#6#1
Riverland:Bledsoe 1-for-3, R, RBI; Knutson 0-for-1, BB, HB, 2 R; Boswell 1-for-2, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI; Braden Hunkins 2-for-3, BB, 2 2B, 3 RBI; Tyler Krekling 2-for-3, R, RBI; Palmer 0-for-0, BB, 2 HBP, R; Chris May 1-for-3, RBI; Quinn Yocom 0-for-0, BB; Jamie Adams 1-for-2, BB. WP:Connor Hurst 7 IP, 0 R, 6 H, 3 BB, 13 K.