By JOE MELLENBRUCH
MAKOTI – Beulah caught fire in the seventh inning of Saturday’s Class A West Region tournament clash with Makoti, scoring four runs with two outs and the West Region title on the line. In Sunday’s winner-take-all rematch, it was no contest.
The Cyclones continued their hot hitting en route to a 13-3 victory in five innings, clinching their second consecutive regional championship. Makoti starter Aaron Schenfisch allowed two home runs in each of the first two innings, including a Pat Becker grand slam.
By the end of the second inning, the Cyclones held a 10-2 lead.
“When we get up on teams, we really seem to take it to them more often,” Becker said. “I think both home runs were pretty big for us.”
Said Beulah coach Ryan Bodell: “It was very important for us to get that early lead, get some confidence going. (Makoti) is a good team, and they’ve come back from big deficits before. I knew we had to stick it to them and keep on going.”
Beulah has three home runs in its last two games for a combined nine RBIs.
Sunday’s second came from the bat of catcher Josh Remmick, who took Schenfisch’s offering to deep left, putting the Cyclones into double digits with less than two innings in the books.
The power surge is a welcomed surprise to Bodell, but Beulah isn’t reliant on the long ball.
“I think we had two or three during the regular season as a team,” he said. “We’ve come in and hit the ball well during this tournament. It’s just about the guys getting their pitches, and I hope they continue bringing the same approach to the state tourney.
“I don’t really care if we keep hitting home runs. As long as we make solid contact, good things will happen.”
Becker finished the game 2-for-3 with a double and five RBIs. Remmick provided an additional three runs with his second-inning homer.
Since their second-round loss to Makoti, the Cyclones have won five straight games after sweeping through the consolation bracket.
“I always thought we had the depth to do it,” Bodell said. “I just didn’t know if we could play that many good games in a row. It feels real good to come back and beat these guys twice in a row. They’re a good team, and they’ve been playing great baseball in this tournament.”
The Mavericks were disappointed to come up short considering how close they were on Saturday. Makoti coach Kyle Giesen believes that may have had an impact on his players during Sunday’s rematch.
“It was a lack of focus from us today, a lack of confidence after what happened (Saturday),” Giesen said. “Losing in the bottom of the seventh like that is a heartbreaker. Just came out a little flat today, a little too down on ourselves.”
Schenfisch was pulled immediately after Remmick’s dinger. He surrendered 10 runs on five hits, three walks and two hit batters. Three errors were committed in the field behind him.
“Hopefully we can shake this one off and come ready to play next week,” Giesen said.
Saturday’s home-run hero and winning pitcher Mikey Morris got the nod for Beulah again on Sunday. He tossed four innings of five-hit ball, surrendering three runs – one earned.
Trailing 12-2 in the fourth, Makoti scored its third run on an error-filled play to briefly lift the impending 10-run mercy rule.
After an initial error from Beulah third baseman Devin Sardelli, two more miscues allowed Alec Lee to come all the way around to score.
But Beulah found the winning run in the bottom of the inning. Sardelli singled sharply to center, bringing in shortstop Alec Battest to score for the fourth time in the game.
The Cyclones will represent the West Region as its top seed in the Class A state tournament, which begins Wednesday in Langdon.
“It’s really nice, but in the end we’re here to do one thing, and that’s to win ballgames,” Sardelli said. “We knew we had the depth to win it all, and that was our goal all along. It’s just nice to have it all done with and have everything go our way.”
Joe Mellenbruch covers Legion baseball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @Mellenbruch_MDN.