MAKOTI With the Class A West Region tournament championship on the line Saturday, Beulah trailed by two runs heading into the bottom of the seventh inning against Makoti.
The Cyclones were down to their last strike on more than one occasion, but capped a 6-4 comeback victory with a walk-off homer from infielder Mikey Morris.
Beulah outfielder Cole Messerschidt drew a full-count walk with two outs, and two ensuing RBI hits tied the game at 4. On the very next pitch, Morris blasted a belt-high fastball over the left-field wall.
“That’s who we want at the plate,” Beulah coach Ryan Bodell said. “Those guys have been coming through with clutch hits all year. Gotta give credit to our guys. We’ve been down before, and we still fight. We still want to always make the other team come to play in that last inning.”
Had the Mavericks sustained their lead, the West Region title would have been theirs. Now with both teams sporting tournament losses, today’s championship tilt is a winner-take-all affair.
The top-seeded Cyclones were bounced 2-0 in the second round by Makoti, the No. 5 seed. Three victories later, they’ve found their second chance.
“We’ll be fine,” Beulah second baseman Evan Mellmer said. “That first loss to Makoti kinda stung, but we’re heating up now. I think it’s easier for us to come back and play because we’re riding a hot streak.”
But it was the Mavericks who wasted no time in securing an early lead. After with no outs in the first, Cale Neshem scored four batters later off of Beulah’s first error.
After facing just six batters over the next two innings, Beulah starter Landon Battest conceded three straight singles to lead off the fourth. Makoti pitcher Jordan Nelson scored after an Alec Lee fielder’s choice, giving the Mavericks a 2-0 lead.
But the Cyclones were quick to recover, plating two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Mellmer and Morris scored after Beulah kicked off the frame with a walk and two singles.
After an efficient fifth inning from both defenses, Beulah stumbled with a pair of costly miscues in the sixth.
With Adam Knudsvig on second, Makoti first baseman Aaron Schenfisch grounded sharply to Battest with one out. Battest turned toward Knudsvig, who was frozen in no-man’s land, but he elected to take the out at first instead.
Mid-throw, Battest changed his mind. The ball slipped from his hand and into right field, allowing Knudsvig to score the go-ahead run.
Schenfisch scored three batters later on a Morris error – Beulah’s third of the inning.
“My heart was breaking at that moment,” Bodell said. “I was hoping that we could get to the bottom of the seventh with the top of our order and make something happen for him, because (Battest) pitched a whale of a game for us. I would have hated to have him lose something like that.”
In six innings, Battest surrendered four runs two earned on seven hits and four walks. Morris tossed a perfect seventh inning to notch the win.
Jordan Nelson pitched six innings of five-hit baseball before Beulah’s four-run seventh.
“Hats off to Beulah. They did everything they needed to win,” Makoti coach Kyle Giesen said. “They’re a great team. We just needed to hit better, and I think we got a little down on ourselves.”
The loss is a tough one for Makoti to swallow.
As an underdog, another tilt with the West Region’s top seed will be yet another stiff challenge for the Mavericks to endure.
But they’ve pulled the upset before, and Giesen is keen to see it happen again this afternoon.
“We’ve just gotta put this loss behind us. It’s in the past now,” he said. “We’ve gotta come ready to throw strikes, play defense and hopefully win the ballgame.”
Watford City 3
In the championship play-in game Saturday, five players finished with multiple RBIs for Beulah, including catcher Evan Mellmer and infielder Mikey Morris, both of whom had RBI doubles.
Cyclones starter Josh Remmick limited the Walleye to five hits and no walks in six innings of work. Watford City pitcher Brandon Allex lasted less than three innings after conceding five runs on five hits.
After limiting to Velva to three runs in the second round, the Walleye allowed 26 runs in their final two games of the tournament.
Joe Mellenbruch covers Legion baseball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.