Armstrong-Ringsted 2, North Sentral Kossuth 1: Mustangs take down No. 7 Eagles
BANCROFT – With football season-like temperatures, it must be time for Armstrong-Ringsted to make another state-playoff run.
But wait it’s still baseball season, right?
It was definitely a playoff atmosphere Thursday at Bancroft Memorial Field as the Mustangs took on No. 7 North Sentral Kossuth (28-9) in the Class 1A District 3 semifinal.
Behind starting quarterback er pitcher Ridge Christiansen, the Mustangs played their best defense of the year in a 2-1 victory over their rivals.
A-R (10-14) advances to Saturday’s district final against Bishop Garrigan in Algona at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The Golden Bears won 4-3 over Laurens-Marathon on Thursday.
A-R’s Travis Hantelman caught four balls in center field-two of them diving catches which would make most sports highlights.
“Travis really stepped up,” said A-R coach Ryan Luedtke. “We see that in practice all the time. He took some hits away from them.”
The game was full of Mustang heroes.
A-R scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Brett Thackery hit a two-out single up the middle off of Eagle starter Jared Ricke.
The Eagles immediately went to their ace pitcher Griffin Hatten in relief of Ricke.
With Spencer Clausen at the plate, Thackery got a good jump at first base to steal second.
“That was good heads-up base running,” said Luedtke.
Clausen worked the count and a passed ball allowed Thackery to get to third-though he didn’t get a good jump on the play, he just beat the tag on the throw from catcher Chris Rock.
A wild pitch for ball four on Clausen allowed Thackery to score the go-ahead run.
The Mustangs then just had to shut the door on the Eagles in the top of the seventh.
Travis Larson came up with a leadoff single and then Ricke popped up to Thackery at first base for one out. Rock drew a walk.
That’s when A-R’s defense stepped up one last time. Nick Larson hit a somewhat slow roller up the middle that shortstop Clausen grabbed by second base, stepped on the bag and threw to first for a game-ending double play.
Christiansen had a solid night with four strikeouts while scattinger five hits and four walks throughout the game, but the Eagles could never quite put them together.
“This is what baseball is supposed to be about all the time,” said Luedtke. “Two teams going at it.”
A-R jumped on board in the bottom of the first inning when Tanner LaBore singled. On a steal to second, a poor throw allowed him to continue on to third. He scored when Christiansen grounded out to the shortstop for the second out.
The Eagles came right back as Jake Larson led off the second with a single followed by a sacrifice bunt by Brett Beadle. hatten then came up with an RBI single through the left side of the infield. Two pop ups ended the inning.
The Eagles had another chance to score as Brock Beadle and Blake Pedersen each drew two-out walks in the third. Again a pop up ended the threat.
Hantelman’s first diving catch came with one out in the fifth inning as he robbed Nick Larson of a hit in the left-center field gap. In the sixth inning, Jake Larson hit to a similar spot with Hantelman getting a standing ovation from the A-R crowd.
The Mustangs came up with four hits with LaBore going 2-3 while Thackery was 1-3 and Evan Hagebock was 1-2.