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Eagles head to state tournament this weekend

It took 41 innings over two days for the Morris Eagles baseball team to clinch the No. 1 seed in Region 9C and advance to the Class C State Tournament.

After losing the Region 9C play-in game to Madison, the Eagles defeated Clinton in the loser's bracket to qualify for the state tournament. The Eagles went on to defeat Madison twice to take the top seed.

As the No. 1 seed, the Eagles earned a bye for the opening weekend of the tournament and are scheduled to play Waconia at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25 on Faber Field in St. Cloud.

The Eagles will be making their first tournament appearance since 2004. Matthew Carrington, Kirby Marquart, and Jamie Van Kempen are the only hold overs from that squad. Marquart was in his rookie season and Van Kempen was in his second year.

Carrington will be making his sixth state tournament appearance in his 23 years as an Eagle.

Madison 2

Morris 0

In the Region 9C play-in game Saturday, Aug. 11, the Eagles lost to Madison 2-0.

Madison had Chris Fellows, grandson of former Morris high school counselor Don Fellows and draftee from Ortonville, on the mound.

The Eagle offense could not get anything going, managing only six hits. Only three runners reached scoring position, and all failed to score.

Jamie Van Kempen had three of the hits and Dusty Sauter added two. Craig Knochenmus had the other hit.

Morris draftee Colton Vien battled some control problems, but pitched very well. He went the distance as he had in the opening round, giving up two runs (earned), on five hits, four walks, five hit batters, while striking out eight.

With the win, Madison clinched the first State Tournament bid for Region 9C. The Eagles headed into the loser's bracket with one more chance to advance to State.

Clinton defeated Appleton 5-0 in the middle game of the day to be the Morris opponent.

Morris 9

Clinton 7

The Eagles advanced to State with a 9-7 victory over Clinton in the final elimination game for Region 9C later on Saturday.

Morris jumped out early with three runs in the top of the first. Dusty Sauter led off with a single and Kirby Marquart doubled him to third. Sauter scored on an error and Eric Asche followed with an RBI single. Craig Knochenmus lofted a sacrifice fly to right to plate the third run of the inning.

The early lead was short lived as Clinton countered with four runs off Jacob Torgerson in the bottom of the inning.

Knochenmus had another run-scoring single in the third to tie the game at 4.

Four more runs were scored in the top of the fourth for the Eagles. Sauter had a one-out single and later with two outs, Ryan Beyer, Asche and Knochenmus had ringing back-to-back-to-back doubles to plate the runs. Asche and Knochenmus's drives each scored two runs.

Matthew Carrington relieved Torgerson in the bottom of the fourth and allowed a run, but did not allow another until the bottom of the eighth as Clinton inched to within 8-6.

Knochenmus led off the ninth with his fourth hit of the game and second double. Carrington drove him home with a single for a critical insurance run. With the three-run lead, Knocky, the Eagle closer, entered the game with a state tournament bid on the line.

After a single and two walks loaded the bases with one out, Torgerson, who had moved to shortstop after pitching, made a back to the infield catch that allowed one run to score on the sacrifice fly, but kept the lead at two and recorded a crucial out. The next batter bounced a grounder in the hole at short to Torgerson who flipped it to Carrington at third to propel the Eagles to the state tournament.

Carrington got the win in relief (his eighth of the season) going five innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits, two walks, a hit batter and striking out five.

Knochenmus gave up the one run, but hung on for his fourth save.

Morris 7

Madison 2

The Eagles, needing two wins to get the No. 1 Seed for the Region in the state tournament, forced a second game against the Madison Mallards with a 7-2 win on Sunday, Aug. 12.

The No. 1 seed is especially important this year as the top seeds all get a bye in the first week of the state tournament.

Brett Anderson had an RBI single after a double from Tanner Picht that gave the Eagles an early 1-0 lead.

Madison scored two unearned runs, but left the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, to take a short lived 2-1 lead.

Jacob Torgerson lined a two-run single to right in the top of the third to give the Eagles the lead at 3-2.

A run scored on an error in the fifth and Ryan Beyer launched his fifth homer of the year to deep left to plate two more runs in the seventh. Beyer leads the team in home runs and RBIs with 31 in 27 games played. Picht added a sacrifice fly in the ninth for the final run.

Recent Morris graduate, Sam Mattson made his Eagle debut on the mound for the win. He had some control issues, walking five and hitting a batter, but allowed only the two unearned runs in five plus innings. Nathan Gades relieved with bases loaded in the sixth, but wiggled out of the jam not allowing a run. Gades settled in going the final four innings allowing three hits, but no other runs in earning the save.

The rain in the morning had pushed the game back to 4:30 from the original start time of 1 p.m.

Morris 9

Madison 8

The Eagles clinched the No. 1 seed for Region 9C with a 9-8 win over Madison in 14 innings later on Sunday.

Nate Gades, who earned the save in the first game, started on the hill in game two as well. Madison scored two runs in their half of the first and the Eagles countered with a run of their own in the bottom half on an RBI single by Tanner Picht.

Madison took a 3-2 lead in the top of the third on an RBI groundout. Matthew Carrington had an RBI single in the bottom of the inning to tie the game at 3.

Gades settled in and tossed three more scoreless innings as the Eagles plated four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Picht had a two-run single and Carrington followed with a towering fly ball to left center that was nearly caught for a two-run double.

Madison countered with three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 6.

Eric Asche gave the Eagles the lead with a two-run single drilled to center in the eighth inning. Kirby Marquart had relieved in the seventh inning and tried to close out the game in the ninth. He was within one out, but a bloop single with runners at second and third tied the game at 8.

In the extra innings, both teams had great scoring chances. Madison had two runners on with one out in the 12th, but a liner to left and a strike out ended the rally. Morris had two on and one out in the bottom of the inning, but Asche drilled a shot to the second baseman that was turned into a double play.

In the decisive 14th, Madison loaded the bases with two singles and a hit batter with one out. Madison drilled a shot headed up the middle, but bounced off the ankle of the pitcher Marquart back to right of home plate. Ryan Beyer fielded the ball and dove back to the plate to barely nail the runner and preserve the tie.

Jacob Torgerson relieved Marquart, who had to stay in the game at first base, as the Eagles were out of bench players. A grounder to short ended the scoring threat. At this point, Madison was running out of pitching and both teams were running on fumes as the clock ticked past 11 p.m. In the bottom of the 14th, the first two batters walked, and after twp outs, Beyer walked to load the bases. Eric Asche took the bases-loaded walk to plate the winning run. He reached base seven times in eight at bats, with the RBI single, five walks and a hit by pitch.

Torgerson got the win after pitching to only the one batter. Marquart went seven and 1/3 innings allowing two runs on eight hits, three walks, two hit batters and striking out eight. Nate Gades, who had not pitched since July 21 in the first game of the league playoffs, had a great day on the mound going 10 innings allowing only three runs. He earned the save in game one and was in line for the win in game two until the bullpen faltered.

Madison 2

Morris 0

Madison 100 100 000 -- 2 5 0

Morris 000 000 000 -- 0 6 2

HITTING - Dusty Sauter 2-for-4; Craig Knochenmus 1-for-4; Jamie Van Kempen 3-for-3

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Colton Vien (L) 9-5-2-2-4-8

Morris 9

Clinton 7

Morris 301 400 001 -- 9 14 5

Clinton 400 100 011 -- 7 10 4

HITTING - Dusty Sauter 2-for-5, 2 runs; Kirby Marquart 2-for-4, 2b, 2 runs; Ryan Beyer 1-for-5, 2b, 2 runs, rbi; Eric Asche 3-for-5, 2b, 1 run, 2 rbi; Craig Knochenmus 4-for-4, 2 2bs, 1 run, 3 rbi; Nathan Gades 1 run; Tanner Picht 1-for-5; Matt Carrington 1-for-5, rbi;

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Jacob Torgerson 3-4-4-3-3-2; Matthew Carrington (W) 5-5-2-2-2-2; Craig Knochenmus 1-1-1-0-2-0

Morris 7

Madison 2

Morris 010 210 201 -- 7 11 3

Madison 002 000 000 -- 2 8 3

HITTING - Dusty Sauter 1-for-5; Kirby Marquart 1 run; Ryan Beyer 2-for-4, HR, 3 runs, 2 rbi; Eric Asche 1-for-4; Mitch Carbert 1-for-1; Tanner Picht 2-for-3, 2b, 2 runs, 1 rbi; Matt Carrington 1-for-5, 1 run; Brett Anderson 1-for-4, rbi; Jacob Torgerson 2-for-4, 2 rbi

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Sam Mattson (W) 5-5-2-0-5-4; Nathan Gades 4-3-0-0-0-1

Morris 9

Madison 8

Madison 201 000 302 000 00-- 8 19 2

Morris 101 400 020 000 01-- 9 12 2

HITTING - Dusty Sauter 1-for-4; Kirby Marquart 1-for-6, 2 runs; Ryan Beyer 2-for-5, HR, 1 run; Eric Asche 1-for-2, 2 runs, 3 rbi; Tanner Picht 2-for-7, 1 run, 3 rbi; Matt Carrington 2-for-6, 2b, 3 rbi; Brett Anderson 1-for-7; Jacob Torgerson 1 run; Jamie Van Kempen 2-for-6, 2 runs

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Nathan Gades 6-9-3-3-1-4; Nate Haseman .1-2-3-2-1-0; Kirby Marquart 7.1-8-2-2-3-8; Jacob Torgerson (W) .1-0-0-0-0-0