On Saturday, July 30th an excited Ortonville Rox team made the road trip to Wheaton to open the Region 9c Tournament against the Madison Mallards. The Rox arrived just in time to see a dramatic finish to the Montevideo vs. Clinton game, in which Clinton nearly rallied in the ninth to overcome a 1-0 deficit. In the end, Colton Vien, with the help of his defense shut the Cards down to complete the game with a shutout. Earlier action featured Morris defeating Cottonwood 5-2.
Going into their game against Madison the Rox knew they would be facing Montevideo in the second round if they were able to beat Madison, they also knew Colton Vien one of the league's most dominant pitchers had thrown against Clinton, so he would be unable to throw again Sunday. Which meant they would face Eldon Evans who was rumored to have an injured shoulder, scheduled for surgery following the region tournament. With this information to use for their advantage it was decided Rox ace Chris Fellows would start game one against Madison.
Fellows pitched wonderfully through seven innings Fellows had allowed only one hit. By mixing his pitches Fellows struck out 12 Mallard hitters through eight innings. After allowing two hits in the eighth and a hit to the leadoff batter in the ninth Fellows stepped off the mound. Fellows passed the pass to Joe Fuller who came in and quickly retired three batters, striking out two and allowing only one hit. Fellows and Fuller combined for a shutout of the Mallards.
Although the Rox pitching and defense was great, their offense was a bit stagnant. Through three innings the Rox had six base runners on, but were unable to produce any scoring. In the fourth Chance Haugen came to the plate and quickly changed things for the Rox. Haugen hit a long solo home run over the left centerfield fence, to give the Rox a 1-0 lead. The Rox would score again in the fifth inning, Riley Sammon led of with a walk, followed by a Chris Fellows single. With one out Jeff Watson drove in Sammon on a single, putting the Rox up 2-0. With the stellar pitching performances by Fellows and Fuller, those two runs are all the Rox would need to walk away victorious. To mirror the pitching performances there were two great individual performances offensively by Jeff Watson, with three hits and Chance Haugen with two, as reported earlier Watson and Haugen also drove in the only two runs for the Rox.
Following their game with Madison the Rox stuck around to watch Land O' Ducks Wood League foe, the Chokio Coyotes take on the Rosen Express. Chokio took the victory 10-5, over Rosen. That left Sunday's matchups as Chokio vs. Morris and Ortonville vs. Montevideo. By pitching Fellows and Fuller Saturday, the Rox were set with a possible all Schake pitching staff against Montevideo on Sunday. Tony Schake was set to start with Mike Schake available for long relief and Curt Schake set to close things out.
Shortly after T. Schake took the mound Sunday it was evident he would not require any relief. Through seven innings T. Schake faced only 23 batters, two more than the minimum. Although he was pitching wonderfully, he has some support from his defense. Catcher, Isaac Knutson threw out two runners attempting steals in the first inning. T. Schake and Knutson's early game performances set the tone for the Rox defense. Riley Sammon was back at his work making amazing plays at shortstop to take away three hits from Montevideo's batters. Joe Fuller started a beautiful double play, tossing the ball to Sammon who made the throw to first as he kicked second base for an inning ending double play in the fourth. The Rox outfielders did not fall asleep with all the great pitching and infield defense, Chance Haugen and Dan Berdan kept six of the nine well hit balls from dropping to the outfield grass.
The Rox had their bats going again Sunday and this time they were able to score runs after getting on base. In the third inning centerfielder Berdan led off with an infield single, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sammon them hit a ball fielded by the Montevideo pitcher Eldon Evans who threw to third trying to get Berdan out, which was unsuccessful. The next batter was Chris Fellows who scored Berdan on a groundout to second base. With two outs a Jeff Watson single allowed Sammon to score, giving the Rox a 2-0 lead. Evans continued to pitch well into the seventh inning when pinch hitter Hunter Winther hit a single, advanced to third when Riley Sammon reached on an error and later scored on a wild pitch during C. Fellow's at bat. Fellows would go on to walk, which would bring Chris Doney up with one out. Doney hit a hard line drive off the right centerfield fence scoring Sammon and advancing C. Fellow's to third. During Watson's at bat a pick off attempt at Doney allowed Fellows to score and left Doney safe at first base. After the three run rally, the seventh inning came to a close with the Rox leading 5-0. The Rox would tack on another two runs in the top of the ninth for 7-0 lead.
With T.Schake still on the mound and a 7-0 lead it looked good for the Rox closing out the victory. Until the ninth inning T. Shake had only allowed five hits. In the ninth he got the first batter out with a strikeout, but allowed three of the next four batters to get hits, which scored Montevideo's first run. With the possibility of a complete game shutout gone bench coach Matt Fellows pulled T. Schake and handed the ball off to Curt Schake. C. Schake struck out the final batter of the game for the 7-1 final score.
On August 6th the Rox will play at 11 am in Rosen against the Chokio Coyotes. The winner of that game will be headed to the 2016 Minnesota Baseball Association State Tournament hosted by Hutchinson, Dassel and Litchfield set to begin August 20th. The Rox will once again, as they did in 2015 face the Chokio Coyotes for their first chance to return to the state tournament since 1969.