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Monday, July 17, 2017

13U Vipers Win District Title, Advance to Babe Ruth State Tourney

By Shane Thielke - Parkers Prairie, MN

The Fergus Falls 13U Baseball team continued their strong tournament play by winning the Lake Region District Tournament in Parkers Prairie this past weekend and punched their ticket to the 13U Babe Ruth State Tournament in Avon/Cold Spring on July 20-22. 

The 13U Vipers entered the tournament as the #2 seed and opened up play taking on a strong BE/WCA baseball team who entered as the #3 seed.  Both teams brought in strong pitching to start the game.  Carter Thielke took the mound and pitched 5 innings allowing 0 runs, 2 hits, 1BB, and 4K with a strong defense behind him.   

The Vipers got on the board in the 3rd inning when Bailey Culbertson led off the inning with a walk. A sacrifice bunt from Owen Babolian advanced Culbertson, consecutive walks issued to Owen Kreuger, and Cole Zierden loaded the bases and Thielke helped his own cause, driving a line drive single to center field, plating two runs and giving the Vipers an early 2-0 advantage.   

BE/WCA had their best chance to threaten in the 5th inning as a first and third situation with one out in a tight ball game brought a conference to the mound and strategy came into play.  BE/WCA implemented the squeeze play and the Vipers executed the game plan perfectly with Zierden staying at his catcher’s position and Thielke played the bunt from the mound, flipping it to Zierden, who tagged out the runner in a close play at the plate.  Thielke struck out the next batter and momentum was back in the Vipers dugout.  

Three consecutive singles in the bottom of the 5th by Owen Krueger, Cole Zierden, and Carter Thielke set the stage for Adam King who pounded a single, scoring Thielke and Zierden and giving the Vipers a 4 run advantage in the late innings. 

Sam Sorum took to the mound in dominating fashion, completing the final 2 innings, giving up 0 runs, 1 hit, 3K, and securing the shutout victory.   

The Vipers had 8 hits in the game:  Jonah Sorum and Thielke each with 2, Zierden, King, Sam Sorum, and Krueger each added 1 hit. 

In the semifinals the Vipers faced the #1 seed Ashby Arrows who entered the tournament undefeated in district play and the Vipers had thoughts of avenging an 8-5 loss back in May.

It didn’t take long for the “focused” Vipers to show that they were ready for the task at hand as in the top of the first inning a single by Zierden, followed by a double by Thielke set the Vipers up with an early 1 run lead.   

The Vipers added to their lead when Culbertson hit a single, advanced on a sac bunt by Krueger and later scored on a passed ball. 

The top of the third provided more excitement as the Sorum twins (Sam and Jonah) smoked back to back triples, followed by a single by Cole Wentworth and the Vipers had a 6-0 advantage. 

As expected, Ashby wasn’t going to go away quietly and they had a big inning of their own in the bottom of the third.  Back to back Vipers errors sparked a 4 run rally in the bottom of the third, tightening the score to 6-4.   

The Ashby rally wasn’t enough as the Vipers bats were strong and steady all afternoon and would not be denied their place in the championship game on Saturday as they pounded out a total of 19 hits in the game led by:  Zierden, Culbertson, and Jonah Sorum each with 3, Thielke, King, Johnson, Wentworth each added 2, and Taeren Holdeman and Sam Sorum each added one hit in the 15-4 victory in 6 innings.  The game ended on a highlight as the Arrows had a runner on first base with one out and a line drive snagged by Krueger in center field, who alertly throw a frozen rope all the way to first base from his center field position, completing the double play and sealing the victory! 

Sam Sorum got the start on the mound going 3 strong innings, followed by 2 shutout innings from Zierden and the tandem held Ashby’s strong hitting lineup in check all afternoon, allowing only 4 hits over 6 innings. 

The Lakes Region 13U Babe Ruth Championship Game saw BE/WCA battle back through the loser’s bracket in strong fashion, knocking off the favorite, Ashby with a strong hitting performance of their own, earning their chance to seek revenge on the Fergus Falls 13’s and a guaranteed berth to the Babe Ruth State Tournament. 

With pitching arms limited for both teams, Thielke took to the mound for his second start in 3 days and on a limited pitch count, he held BE/WCA to 3 hits and 1 run over 4 innings of work.  Sam and Jonah Sorum combined to pitch in the 5th and 6th innings, allowing only 1 run, and Thielke returned the hill in the 7th and completed the puzzle of pitch counts and efficiency on the mound.

The Vipers once again scored first, in the bottom of the first inning after Jonah Sorum was hit by a pitch to start the game, Thielke then singled up the middle, followed by a double by King, scoring Sorum and a passed ball then scored Thielke and the Vipers took the early 2-0 lead. 

Opportunities for both teams were limited, but a walk, followed by a double in the BE/WCA second inning tightened the score to 2-1 early on.  Both teams added a run in the 5th and the Vipers knew they needed just a little more breathing room going into the 6th.  A single by Wentworth, followed by Culbertson being hit by a pitch, brought Justis Sagerhorn to the plate in a critical pinch-hit situation.  Sagerhorn executed the sacrifice bunt perfectly and advanced the runners to second and third with just one out.  Culbertson eventually scored on a fielder’s choice and the Vipers took a 2 run lead to the 7th inning.   

With arms getting tired and the BE/WCA lineup gaining patience, the Vipers sent Thielke back to the mound for the 7th inning.  A fly ball to Culbertson in left field, followed by two ground outs to Thielke at the pitcher’s mound and task was complete!  Lake Region Champs! 

The Vipers had 8 hits in the contest, led by Thielke with 3, King with 2, Wentworth, Culbertson, and Babolian each with 1 hit apiece.   

The Vipers record stands at 21-14 as they head to State Tournament Play in Avon/Cold Spring next weekend.



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