Talk about a nail biter.

The Kenyon-Wanamingo Knights were down by three runs in the bottom of the 10th inning Friday before coming back to win 5-4 over the Sibley East Wolverines.

Senior pitchers Matt Houglum for Kenyon-Wanamingo and Ben Brinkman for Sibley East threw the 115 pitches allowed in a playoff game.

Houglum struck out 11 batters and walked just one while scattering six hits in his nine-plus innings of work. The only walk was the last batter he faced.

Brinkman had allowed just three hits going into the bottom of the 10th when the Knights erupted for four runs after the first batter grounded out. He struck out seven, walked two and hit a batter while allowing six hits in 9-1/3 innings.

The Wolverines scored the first run in the second inning after Brinkman pounded a double to start the inning and his courtesy runner Austin Weckwerth scored on a passed ball.

Kenyon-Wanamingo tied the game in the bottom of the fourth without the benefit of a solid hit in my scorebook.

Sibley East had an error to open the inning on a ball hit by Houglum, sophomore Tyler Ryan traded places at first base. Junior Jack Beulke bunted and was safe at first base when the pitcher tried to throw Ryan out at third, resulting in an error. Sophomore Micah Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Ryan.

It stayed 1-1 going into extra innings.

Kenyon-Wanamingo had a good chance to walk off in the bottom of the seventh when Johnson led the inning off with a single.

Senior Peyton Hilke sacrificed him to second base and No. 9 hitter senior Mitch Boyum had a productive out, advancing Johnson to third, but senior Dylan Craig could not gain a hit after a seven-pitch at-bat.

The Wolverines had a lead-off single in the ninth inning, but Kenyon-Wanamingo turned a double play to end the inning.

In the top of the 10th it looked like Sibley East had secured the victory.

Houglum's only walk came in the top of the 10th to the final batter he faced on his 115th pitch of the game. Beulke relieved him and fell into some tough luck when the Wolverines decided to play small ball and the Knights had back-to-back errors on throws to first following bunts.

A successful sacrifice was put down for a second run and the No. 9 hitter, junior Kevin Durhum, tallied an RBI single to make it 4-1 going into the bottom of the 10th.

I have to admit I thought the first round curse would continue for the Knights. The past two seasons, despite high seeds resulting in home games in the first round, Kenyon-Wanamingo fell to Goodhue and Blue Earth Area.

But after the game, Knights head coach Randy Hockinson said when his team met at the dugout going into the bottom of the 10th the seniors said they were going to focus and make the comeback happen.

After a ground out on the first pitch to start the bottom of the 10th, Craig was hit by a pitch, senior Calvin Steberg got an infield hit, senior Carter Leninger doubled in a run. Houglum smacked an RBI single on the 115th pitch delivered by Brinkman. He was replaced by senior Tanner Kurtzweg and junior Tyler Ryan hit a 0-1 count single.The Wolverines tried to throw out Houglum going to third from first base on the hit and there was an error, allowing Houglum to come home with the winning run.

Coach Hockinson said it was appropriate for Houglum to score after pitching so well.

Houglum, Leninger and Ryan were our Sviggum Insurance Agency of Wanamingo Knights of the game.

The Held Bus Service of Kenyon play of the game was a throw out of a runner at home by Leninger to end the top of the fourth inning. He charged the ball nicely and threw a strike to Ryan at home plate, who tagged the runner about a foot away from the plate.

Kenyon-Wanamingo is 13-8 and gets to have another home game Tuesday because the Medford Tigers upset No. 3 seed Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 3-2 to end the Buccaneers season.

Now the tournament shifts to double elimination and if the Knight bats come to life they should do well because they are deep in pitching.

Sibley East finished their season 6-14. Five errors did not help their effort.

The line totals were:

Kenyon-Wanamingo: 5 runs, 7 hits, 2 errors, 8 runners, 5 left in scoring position

Sibley East: 4 runs, 6 hits, 5 errors, 4 runners, 2 left in scoring position

Kunz Memorial Field Wanamingo post game prep- photo by Gordy Kosfeld
Kunz Memorial Field Wanamingo post game prep- photo by Gordy Kosfeld

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