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North St. Paul squeaks out a win over Oakdale in dramatic seventh-inning rally
North St. Paul 5 - Oakdale 4
The Oakdale Mavericks lost a heartbreaker to rival North St. Paul on Wednesday, July 9 at Kuenkel Field.
In an exciting finish, the 39ers managed to come from behind in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat the Mavericks, 5-4, in American Legion baseball action.
“It is tough for us to beat them it seems,” said Oakdale manager Doug Berfeldt in a post-game interview. “I thought we were going to get this one, but they seem to be on a roll.
“They win the games, and we seem to be snakebitten right now. We seem to lose the games, and they find a way to win them. That walk and the error (in the seventh) didn’t help our cause. It opened the door for them.
“We are in a season-long hitting slump. We have to find a way to break out of it in time for the playoffs,” Berfeldt said, shaking his head in bewilderment.
Meanwhile, North St. Paul manager Ron Adams said, “We saved it for the last in this game. Things are going right for us.
“This team is showing some character right now. They are coming around and believing in themselves.
“They are finding ways to win and doing the things necessary to make it happen. I hope it lasts,” Adams said.
The players on the two teams know each other well. Nearly all the 39ers attend North High, while the Mavericks are from Tartan.
The game was nip-and-tuck throughout. The 39ers scored a couple of runs in the bottom of the first.
Then the Mavericks countered with runs in the second and sixth to set the stage for the dramatic seventh.
In the bottom of the first, consecutive singles by Corky Hildebrandt, Tom Mulvaney and Joe Messerole scored Hildebrandt. Sam Farley sent a slow roller to the right side, and Mulvaney came home to make it 2-0 39ers.
From then on, through the sixth inning, pitcher Connor Brass was nearly untouchable for the Mavericks.
The 39ers used Zach Economy on the mound until the sixth when he left in favor of Gus Varland.
In the top of the third, Brass led off with double to center field. He moved to third on an infield out and came home when Nolan Russell sent a sacrifice fly to center field.
In the top of the sixth Oakdale knotted the score at 2-2 when Connor O’Sullivan beat out a two-out ground ball to the right side. Brass followed and worked a walk. A single to left center off the bat of Jay Zwak plated O’Sullivan and the game headed into the seventh.
Cozatt belted a one-out single to right field in the top half of the seventh. Chad Tschida was hit by a pitch, and the pair moved up on a ground ball to the right side. Kyle Rick then had a two-RBI double to give the Mavericks a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh Jace Piepgras was walked. Dylan Foote slapped a shot to the right side, and the ball was dropped at second base, allowing Piepgras to reach safely. (That was the crucial walk and error mentioned by manager Berfeldt.) The pair moved up on a wild pitch. HIldebrandt - he was 3-for-3 - then knocked a single and Piepgras scored.
Mulvaney was nicked by a pitch to load the sacks. In stepped Messerole who picked a pitch he liked and laced a shot into right center field. Both Foote and Hildebrandt scored to end the ball game, and the 39ers claimed the 5-4 win.
It was the 39ers’ third win in as many meetings this season over the Mavericks.
Wally Wakefield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.