All the Brainerd Bushwhackers needed was a hit or two and things may have been different as they took on the Carroll, Iowa, North Stars Tuesday afternoon at Adamson Field.
But North Stars center fielder Dean Molitor had other ideas.
Molitor made two outstanding defensive plays to help hold the Bushwhackers to one run. He was also 2-for-4, scoring two runs and driving in another as the North Stars downed the Buschwhackers 8-1 in the quarterfinals of the National Baseball Congress "Hap" Dumont 14-under World Series.
"They played good, solid defense," Brainerd assistant coach Randy Heidmann said. "(Molitor) is an excellent ballplayer and has a really good attitude. He really went after the ball."
The North Stars loaded the bases right away in the first. Brainerd starting pitcher Carl Sneep forced Brandon Koolstra to hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Pete Goeman who threw home to force out Molitor. Iowa pitcher Roman Gentry followed with a single that scored T.J. Clark and Marc Hempstead for a 2-0 lead.
Brainerd loaded the bases in its half of the first with one out on singles by Goeman and Cory Neugebauer and a Travis Dixon walk. But Gentry got first baseman Dan Lepel to hit into an inning-ending 1-2-3 double play.
Iowa plated two more runs in the second as Justin Schnee scored on an error. Molitor, sitting at third, scored on a sacrifice fly by Clark, pushing the score to 4-0.
Brainerd Bushwhackers outfielder Matt Siegel connected with a pitch in a NBC "Hap" Dumont 14-under World Series game against the Iowa North Stars at Adamson Field Tuesday.
It looked like Brainerd would get something going in the third when, with two out, Jake Johnson walked. Goeman, who was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases, reached safely on a single. Johnson and Goeman then executed a double steal, putting them on second and third with two out.
Neugebauer ripped what appeared to be a two-run single to the gap in left-center, but Molitor raced over and stretched out perfectly to nab the ball, ending the Bushwhackers' threat.
"(Iowa) made some really good plays out there," said Heidmann. "They just kept shutting us down. We had opportunities but we just couldn't quite capitalize because they played such good defense."
The North Stars, however, took advantage of every opportunity.
They broke the game open in the fourth as they scored three runs on two hits and took advantage of two Brainerd errors. Molitor, Clark and Schnee all scored for the North Stars.
Another prime scoring opportunity came in the bottom of the fourth as Dixon, Lepel and Carl Sneep loaded the bases with no outs for Brainerd. Dixon ended up scoring on a fielder's choice, but that was the only run Brainerd would muster.
Heidmann said it was frustrating was that every ball the Bushwhackers hit seemed to be right at their opponent.
"We hit the ball right where they were," he said. "But they didn't give us much so you have to give them credit. We didn't play a bad ballgame, they just smothered everything we did.
"If we could've gotten something going, maybe we could get them rattled a little bit and things may have been different. But they deserved the win."
Brainerd moves down to the losers' bracket and is scheduled to face Eagan at 9 a.m. at Mills Field today.
Heidmann believes that, even though Brainerd suffered a difficult loss, it still has a lot of baseball left and can come back and win more games.
"We'd like to think that the kids will put this game out of their minds," he said. "We have some pitching left and we hope that the bats will continue to come alive. We'll just have to come back and fight."
Other Tuesday games
Eagan Wildcats 4,
Brainerd Warriors 0
The Warriors' disappointing tournament showing came to an end on Tuesday morning at Mills Field as Eagan starter Tom Ryan blew them away. Ryan pitched a complete-game shutout, jettisoning the Warriors from the tournament.
The Warriors' biggest threat came in the third when they loaded the bases on singles by Jack Freeman, Blake Herron and Nick Jelacie. The inning ended after Ryan coerced an inning-ending groundout by Zach Eastman.
Roy Larson went 2-3 for the Wildcats.
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