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Riverland Blue Devils in state-region baseball finals
Blue Devil Baseball
By Scott A. Kolb The Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

ST. CLOUD — A dramatic win in their final at-bat Saturday and an impressive mound performance Sunday has left the Riverland Blue Devils just one win away from a repeat trip to the JUCO World Series.

In the combined Minnesota College Athletic Conference State Tournament and Region XIII playoff, the Riverland baseball team is now 3-0 in the post-season. One more win in the double-elimination format and the Blue Devils are headed back to Texas.

Riverland beat its nemesis Dakota County Technical College by a 5-4 score on Saturday at Dick Putz Field. DCTC had swept all four games from Riverland during the regular season.

Then, in the winner's bracket on Sunday at Faber Field it was a 5-1 win for Riverland over Ridgewater.

"We got timely hits with guys on base and our pitchers did a great job in both games over the weekend," Riverland coach Scott Koenigs said. "It was pretty exciting on Saturday to finally beat DCTC and we did it in dramatic fashion."

With the game tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh, Winston Smith got the rally started with a leadoff single. Smith went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jeff Huth and then, took third base on a wild pitch.

After an out, Renne Araujo beat out on infield hit to plate Smith with the winning run. Tyler Jones pitched all seven innings for the Blue Devils and got the win when Smith came home.

"The guys flooded the field after Araujo got the infield single to send Winny home," the coach said. "It was a fun sight to see. We kept the momentum going the next day with another solid game against Ridgewater."

The Blue Devils scored two runs in the first inning and led the whole way against Ridgewater. The offense added two more runs in the bottom of the third with a homer from Araujo, and pitcher Kyal Williams took care of the rest.

Williams, a native of Australia, had his command on the hill. The Blue Devils hurler fired nine strikeouts and went the distance for the win.

"Aussie pitched a great game with a lot of composure on the hill," Koenigs said. "He hit his spots and changed speeds well. Ridgewater is a fast team and now, we'll see them again.

"Hopefully, we can keep their quick guys off the bases and play good defense. If we can win then the celebration is on. I hope we can get the first game, then I can sit back and watch the pile on the field."

Riverland (35-10) plays Ridgewater today at Dick Putz Field for a trip to the JUCO World Series. The first game started at 11 a.m.



Riverland 5, Dakota County 4

DCTC .......#000#031#0#—#4#7#0

Riverland .....#000#400#1#—#5#7#1

Riverland: Renne Araujo 2-for-4, run, RBI; Brad Winkelman 1-for-2, walk, run; Derek Hahn 1-for-2, run, RBI; Dustin Fritz 1-for-2, run, 2 RBI; Winston Smith 2-for-3, run, RBI. WP: Tyler Jones 7 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 7 K.


Riverland 5, Ridgewater 1

Ridgewater .......#000#001#0#—#1#3#2

Riverland .....#202#010#x#—#5#9#1

Riverland: Jeff Huth 1-for-3, 2B, run; Kyle Young 1-for-3, run; Araujo 3-for-3, HR, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Winkelman 2-for-3, run, 2 RBI; Hahn 2-for-3, RBI. WP: Kyal Williams 7 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 9 K.