Bandits advance to Region 1C tourney

Bandit pitcher Josh Coleman had quite a weekend with the birth of his first child, coaching his PACT players to a 16-U State title and throwing a complete game win against Princeton to clinch a region berth. Photos by Greg Hunt

Bandit pitcher Josh Coleman had quite a weekend with the birth of his first child, coaching his PACT players to a 16-U State title and throwing a complete game win against Princeton to clinch a region berth.
Photos by Greg Hunt

Rum River hits way past Sartell, Princeton) Rum River had the bats dialed in to win their two Eastern Minny League West Division games last weekend, locking in a spot in the upcoming Region 1C tournament. 

The Bandits (14-9) will open the 1C tourney hosted at Hinckley against the No. 2 seed from the Sauk Valley League (TBD) at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Rum River opened the EML West playoffs by rolling past the Sartell Stone Poneys 16-6 on the soggy Saturday afternoon in Hinckley. Kevin Auth struck out five of the first six hitters before a rain delay was called. Battling the muddy mound conditions, Auth went the distance and recorded nine strikeouts.

The Bandits owned a 7-0 lead before Sartell rallied to make it a 7-6 game. The Rum River boys put up nine runs in the seventh and eighth to win by the 10-run rule. Andy Julkowski continued his torrid season with four hits against the Stone Poneys. Mike Koplitz was 3-for-3 with two doubles and two walks, and Matt Ziebarth added three hits for the Bandits.

Said Bandit skipper Tom Koplitz, “We just hit the heck out of the ball. Our infield defense has settled in well, too. On the season, our team ERA is under 3.00, and our defense is a big part of that.”

Bandits 14, Princeton 3

Rum River clinched its spot in the Region 1C tourney by hammering the EML West No. 1 seed Panthers on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Hinckley’s Brennan Field. This time, it was starter Josh Coleman wrapping up a wild weekend with a complete game effort, scattering nine hits over nine innings and striking out seven.

The Bandits’ Nate Knudsen scampered home on Matt Ziebarth’s sac fly to make it 6-1 in the seventh inning against the Panthers.

The Bandits’ Nate Knudsen scampered home on Matt Ziebarth’s sac fly to make it 6-1 in the seventh inning against the Panthers.

“I just threw a lot of strikes, that was the biggest thing. I just let them put the ball in play most of the time, and our defense backed me up really well,” said Coleman. “Earlier in the season, our bats were really cold. But the last few weeks, we heated up. Tonight we got 16 hits, so anybody can pitch behind 16 hits. The run support we pitchers received really helps out.”

Coleman’s weekend began with the birth of he and his wife’s first child, a daughter, on Friday. On Saturday, he coached his PACT-oriented 16-U baseball team to a State championship. Sunday he showed up 20 minutes before game time without his baseball spikes and had to borrow a pair from teammate Ryan Miller.

“It was quite a weekend– a new baby, a State championship and then coming up here to pitch a win,” described an obviously tired-looking Coleman.

Rum River owned a 3-0 lead through three innings, then Julkowski singled home Nate Knudsen to make it 4-0 in the top of the fifth. The Panthers cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning when Jerad Goldsmith singled and scored on Jesse Zimmer’s hit to right.

In the seventh, the Bandits increased the lead to 6-1 on consecutive hits from Tyler Kronstedt, Knudsen and Julkowski, followed by a sacrifice fly from Ziebarth. The advantage grew to 9-1 in the eighth when Nick Scardigli walked  and Kronstedt was hit by a pitch, then Julkowski launched a double off the right-field screen to plate both runs. Ziebarth followed with an RBI single to score Julkowski.

A lead-off double by Koplitz and singles from Jesse Jacobson and Scardigli highlighted the Bandits’ five-run ninth for insurance. The Panthers scratched out two runs in the bottom of the ninth before Coleman induced two grounders to third to end the game.

Princeton will host Sartell July 31 to determine the second team to reach regions out of the EML West. In the EML East, Mora tipped Hinckley 4-3 in 15 innings Sunday night to reach the 1C tourney as both Mora’s Asa Patterson and the Knights’ Truett Kroschel threw complete games. Hinckley plays Quamba July 31 for the remaining EML spot at regions.

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