By Steve Peterson
As it was once musically said, it’s all about “Staying Alive” especially in state tournament time.
The Akron Rebels advanced to the quarterfinals of the South Dakota State Amateur Baseball Tournament Class “B” division with an 8-5 win over Wynot Aug. 11.
The Rebels, 18-7 record, play Winner/Colome at 6:00 p.m. Aug. 15 at Sioux Falls Stadium.
“We had them all the way,” Rebels Coach Paul Martin joked after the hard-fought Rebels win Sunday night. “Blaze Hanson pitched a heck of a game. We’ve played them in the past and they’re a good hitting team.”
Hanson worked seven innings for the Rebels as he was the starting pitcher. He allowed five runs, four earned, had six walks allowed and struck out two and toughed it out for 123 pitches. Jared Kirkeby, fresh off a no-hitter in the first round state game in a 7-0 Rebels win against Plankington, came in relief after Brett Stolpe faced two batter in the eighth inning with the tide turning back to Wynot. Kirkeby not only got out of the eighth inning with three strikeouts, but finished the ninth and allowed two hits but got the final out in a fielder’s choice play.
Akron offensively was led by second baseman Stolpe. Stolpe had two singles and one double and drove in three runs. Noah Bohlmann provided a game-tying two-run home run in the first inning and scored an insurance run on a wild pitch in the sixth after reaching on a walk. He also doubled in the eighth.
Wynot jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning against Hanson but Mike Davenport singled ahead of Bohlmann’s long blast to left field for a 2-2 tie in the Rebels’ first.
The Expos took a 3-2 lead in the third inning but the Rebels gained the lead for good in their half. Randall Waterbury singled and one out later, Blaze Hanson did the same. Stolpe then came through the first time of the game with a single to score Waterbury for a 3-3 tie. Chad Brown’s RBI single then gave the Rebels a 4-3 lead but two outs were recorded and no more runs.
Jordan Heyl singled and scored a run in the forth inning on a double by Waterbury for a 5-3 lead as Heyl had a two-hit night.
The Rebels expanded the lead to 8-3 in the sixth inning.
Heyl singled to start the big inning. Waterbury and Bohlmann walked and with two outs, Stolpe delivered a two-run single for a 7-3 lead. A wild pitch scored another run for an 8-3 Rebel’s margin.
The Expos, 17-11 final record, who had seven hits, did not go down quickly. They got one run back in the seventh for an 8-4 deficit.
Three singles and a walk added to a run and had the Expos’ fans thinking comeback and they had momentum with no one out and an 8-5 deficit. After Stolpe had walked a batter and given up a hit, Kirkeby, who had notched the first state tournament nine-inning no-hitter since 1948 Aug. 7, was called on. He retired Logan Tycz on a strikeout, then leadoff man Chase Rolfes had the same fate. Ryan Heimes batted with the bases loaded and two outs and battled the former Northwestern Red Raider for six pitches before Kirkeby finally retired him on a strikeout.
In the ninth Kirkeby retired the first two hitters on a strikeout and a ground out. Two base runners followed on singles and with the tying run up he got a ground ball to Davenport at shortstop who flipped the ball to Stolpe and the Rebels were headed to Thursday.
The Rebels had won two games at the state tournament and advanced to a round they had only seen once before. A win Thursday and it would be on to the semifinals at 1 p.m. Aug. 17. The Class “B” championship game, is 2 p.m. Aug. 18.
For the Rebels
Davenport was 1-for-3 with one run scored, one sacrifice and reached on a fielder’s choice.
Waterbury was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and one RBI.
Bohlmann was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a home run and two RBIs.
Stolpe was 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
Heyl was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Brown was 1-for-4 with one RBI.
Matt Hoines had one walk.
Hanson was 1-for-4 with one run scored.
In pitching Hanson faced 33 batters, gave up four hits, five runs, four earned, walked six, had one hit batter in seven innings. Kirkeby worked two innings, facing eight batters, with four strikeouts and gave up two hits. Stolpe pitched to two batters, giving up one walk and one hit.
Akron had a fine turnout for the trip up I-29 on a Sunday night. Here’s hoping for another strong showing Thursday.
Scott Jacobs, the Rebels’ third baseman, suffered an injury in his first at-bat and Matt Hoines replaced him.