Angels rally for 10-9 victory against Bluffton
After playing from behind most of the game, the Detroit Lakes Angels gained the lead on the Bluffton Braves Saturday night when it really counted -- the bottom of the ninth inning.
Outfielder Phil Kirchner stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, zero for his last eight at bats with seven pop flies, and hit a three-run homerun to beat the third seeded Braves 10-9 in dramatic fashion in the Hi-10 League playoffs.
"I hadn't been swinging well, trying to do too much and trying to hit the ball too hard every time," Kirchner said. "I just wanted to put the ball in play. I got a good pitch and swung hard, and you're bound to get a hit eventually. It was a little slump-buster."
Leading up to Kirchner's at-bat, Marcus Mooney reached base and Chris Gilson hit a single to get on. Hot clutch hitter Taylor Fuhs then popped out to bring Kirchner to the plate with two runners on base and one out.
"We won the game. That's the main thing. I'll go 0 for 4 in a game, as long as we can win," Kirchner said.
The Braves had built an 8-3 lead by the sixth inning, spraying 10 hits against starter Gilson, who left the mound after four innings. They also took advantage of six Angels' errors, as only six of their nine runs on the night were earned.
"As a team, it was a tough game for us. We gave up a lot of runs. We weren't fielding great and Bluffton was scoring lots of runs. But we battled back and kept the game close," Kirchner said.
Brandon Johnson belted a two-run homerun in the sixth inning, and the Angels scored two unearned runs in the eighth to keep the game close.
"Most games when you score seven runs, you win, but we didn't give up," Kirchner said. "In the fifth inning, we could have just as easily folded, but we kept battling."
Johnson picked up the win, going five innings in relief.
Following Saturday's dramatic win, the Angels faced top seeded Bertha Sunday afternoon, losing a close game 4-2.
"They've got our number," Kirchner said. "They've beat us six games in a row with a very young, talented team."
The game was 2-1 going into the sixth inning when the Angels tied it up.
A Bertha two-run homerun in the seventh inning put them up 4-2, and it was all they needed to win the game.
Fuhs pitched a complete game for the loss. Johnson and Mooney picked up DL's only two hits on the night.
"We struggled with the bats. The night before, we had a big emotional win and got a lot of hits," Kirchner said. "We just couldn't get any bats going against (Bertha's) good pitcher."
The Angels will play the winner of Wednesday's Perham and Wadena-Deer Creek game Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Detroit Lakes, with the winner automatically getting into the Region 16 Tournament starting next week. The winner will also play Bertha Saturday for Regional seeding purposes.
"It's a one game season," Kirchner said. "If we lose we're done and if we win we continue for at least another week."
Hi-10 League playoffs: (3) Bluffton at (2) Detroit Lakes, Saturday, July 24.
Braves 031 130 010 - 9 14 2
Angels 020 102 203 - 10 9 6
AB R H Bi
K. Beebout 0 1 0 0
C. Gilson 5 2 1 0
T. Fuhs 5 1 1 0
P. Kirchner 5 1 1 3
B. Johnson 4 2 2 2
R. Oistad 3 1 0 0
J. Kiebke 3 1 0 0
D. Dickey 2 2 0 0
R. Cox 4 0 2 1
M. Mooney 3 0 1 1
HR: Kirchner, Johnson...2B: Cox.
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-k): DL - C. Gilson 4-10-5-4-2-2; B. Johnson (WP) 5-4-4-2-3-1.