For the second consecutive game, a little spark on offense triggered huge offensive output for Tradition Mortgage Baxter.
On Sunday afternoon at Oscar Kristopherson Park the Baxter 10-and-under baseball team continued its trek for the Cal Ripken World Series by defeating East Twins of Minnesota in the quarterfinals of the Midwest Plains Regional tournament 14-6.
"All you need is one spark on offense, and Kyle Helmberger was that spark for us today," said Baxter head coach Tom Smith about his team's 12-run third inning. "Hitting is contagious. All you need is one person to get a big hit and the whole team can get on a roll."
After two quiet innings and East Twins holding a 1-0 lead, Helmberger led off the bottom of the third inning with a single and the flood gates opened.
Helmberger advanced to second base during Griffin Campbell's at-bat and stole third before Campbell drew a walk off East Twins starting pitcher Tyler Flud.
Cole Smith reached to load the bases and Chris Pohlkamp followed with an RBI single. With the bases still loaded, Baxter starting pitcher Keegan Kennedy singled in two more runs.
Danny Theilman replaced Flud on the mound for East Twins, but didn't fare any better against the unstoppable Baxter offense. Theilman pitched into a jam quickly by walking Reno Fussy to reload the bases.
Thomas Stoxen and Helmberger hit back-to-back singles that plated three more runs for Baxter.
Helmberger finished the game going 3-for-3 at the plate for the second consecutive game. He tallied two RBI and a stolen base. Pohlkamp, who batted in four runs, garnered three of his RBI with a bases-clearing triple.
Kennedy knocked in two more runs off of Theilman with a double before the struggling pitcher was able to escape the fatal inning.
When the dust finally settled Tradition Mortgage Baxter found themselves with a convincing 12-1 lead.
Baxter added two more runs in the fourth inning with a Gerritt Garberich RBI single and bases-loaded walk.
Kennedy controlled the mound for Baxter, pitching three innings, striking out two batters and allowing no earned runs. The East Twins run in the first inning was the result of a fielding error at second base.
Kennedy earned Player of the Game honors by going 2-for-2 with three RBI in addition to his pitching prowess, featuring his fastball and change-up.
Drew Sannes entered the game to start the fourth inning in relief of Kennedy with a comfortable 11 run lead.
East Twins rallied in the fourth inning to gain back four runs but the 14-5 Baxter lead was insurmountable.
With the win on Sunday, Baxter will move on to the semifinals where it will face the big-hitting Sikeston, Mo., squad 11 a.m. Monday.
"(Sikeston) is a good hitting team, we're going to have to play good defense," Smith said. "It's going to be a game about small ball, we'll put the ball in play and force them to play both offense and defense."
East Twins 6 7 1
Baxter 14 13 3
WP -- Keegan Kennedy. LP -- Tyler Flud. 2B -- Bax-Keegan Kennedy. 3B -- Bax-Chris Pohlkamp; East-Tyler Flud. SB -- Bax-Kyle Helmberger, Griffin Campbell, Kennedy, Grant Reuer; East-Danny Theilman.
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