The Ortonville Rox are 2016 Region 9c Champions!
On Saturday, August 13th and Sunday, August 14th the Ortonville Rox were back in Wheaton for the final weekend of the Minnesota Baseball Association Region 9c Tournament. The Rox won all three of their games on the weekend, one against the Morris Eagles on Saturday and two against the Chokio Coyotes on Sunday, to win the region championship.
On Saturday, after seeing the last few innings of a game in were the Morris Eagles defeated the Montevideo Spartans 7-2, the Rox took the field ready to play Morris for the opportunity to move on to the region championship Sunday against the Chokio Coyotes. A win against Morris would also put the Rox into the state tournament for the first time since 1969.
Through the first three innings there was no score, but in the top of the fourth inning the Rox offense was ignited. After walks to starting pitcher Chris Fellows and Chris Doney, Jeff Watson reached on a bunt. With the bases loaded Chance Haugen hit a line drive into right centerfield which scored Fellows from third and Doney from second. Joe Fuller then hit a deep sacrifice fly to score Watson and put the Rox on top 3-0.
Morris answered back in the bottom of the fourth as Mac Beyer led off the inning with a homerun. C. Fellows did not show any signs of being rattled as he went on to strike out the side. The Rox would add two runs in the top of the sixth as Watson scored his second run, this time on a single by Fuller. Fuller, later scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter John Thomas. Once again, in the bottom of the sixth inning the Eagle would cut down the lead. This time a two run homerun by Tyler Henrichs would make the game 5-3.
Tony Schake came in to pitch midway through the seventh as two of the first three Morris hitters reached base. With the tying runner on T. Schake slammed the door on the Morris offense. T. Schake earned the save and kept the 5-3 win intact for C. Fellows. Play by play voice Thomas Breach named T. Schake and C. Fellows co-players of the game as they combined to hold a dangerous Morris Eagles offense to only three runs on seven hits. They also combined for seven strikeouts and two double play balls, while allowing only three walks.
The win put the Rox up against the Chokio Coyotes on Sunday, August 14th, this time for the region championship title. The Rox set out to avenge two painful losses to the Coyotes, one in the final weekend of the regular season, which cost the Rox their number one seed coming into the region tournament and the second just one week earlier, which sent the Rox to the losers bracket. If the Rox wanted to take the region championship they would now have to beat Chokio two games in a row.
The Rox would score early and often in game one putting together six runs over the first five innings. Both the hits and scoring came truly as a team effort. Starting pitcher Curt Schake went five strong innings giving up three runs, only two earned on six hits. Joe Fuller was brought in to pitch the final four frames, after two batters reached base in the sixth before an out was recorded by the Rox defense. Again a Rox relief pitcher stepped up and closed the door on the opposition's offense. Fuller pitched four innings, allowing only one run on one hit and striking out six. On the way he earned Thomas Breach’s player of the game honor as the Rox gained the 6-4 victory and forced a double header for the championship.
Game two starting pitcher for the Rox was Saturday’s reliever T. Schake. It was uncertain whether he would have his normal velocity and movement after coming back on no rest, but Tony has become known for taking the ball whenever the team needs him. After pitching nearly three shutout innings the day before T. Schake came out and threw another five innings of shut out baseball. This performance was exactly what the Rox needed, because they were struggling to get the offense going.
Although he was not quite as electric as he usually is T. Schake was extremely efficient in getting outs. He faced the minimum through innings two, three and four with the help of a runner thrown out on an attempted steal by catcher Chris Doney. Through six innings T. Schake had struck out six, allowed only one run on four hits and a walk. With that performance T. Schake gave the Rox a great opportunity to win their second game on the day.
In the bottom of the sixth the Rox offense was looking to give their starting pitcher the win. C. Doney provided a boost, in the bottom of the sixth he led off with a long, high fly ball that cleared the left centerfield fence for a homerun to tie the game 1-1. The Rox would score again in the inning, J. Watson who reached on a walk was driven in by J. Thomas on a sacrifice fly. The inning would end with the Rox ahead 2-1.
T. Schake was ready to come out for the seventh with plans to finish what he started, but coach Matt Fellows called for Tony’s younger brother Mike Schake to finish things off. The Rox and Coyotes traded runs in the seventh with the score 3-2 in favor of the Rox going into the eighth. Hunter Winther scored the Rox third run on a base hit by C. Doney. Riley Sammon nearly scored on the play also, but was thrown out at home. The Chokio team was not about to give up, in their half of the eighth the Coyotes would tie the game at three. The score would remain tied going into the bottom of the ninth.
Aaron Quinn who had been hitting the ball hard as the designated hitter drew a leadoff walk to start the inning and was replaced by pinch runner Isaac Cloos. Cloos advanced to second on a Dan Berdan bunt, which was fielded by the pitcher. Cloos advanced to third and Berdan to second on an errant throw to first. Next up was Sammon who was intentionally walked to load the bases. Next up was C. Fellows who slapped a ground ball up the middle, the throw home was a touch high of the catcher's target allowing Cloos to score the game winning run, the final score 4-3. Thomas Breach’s championship player of the game was C. Doney, although honorable mentions should go to T. Shake who provided a gutty performance on the mound and Riley Sammon, who reached base four times on three hits and a walk. Sammon also played phenomenal defensively.
With the win the Rox won their first Region 9c Championship and are headed to the 2016 Minnesota Baseball Association State Tournament. After a first round bye in the the Rox are set to play in Hutchinson on Saturday, August 27th at 11 am against the winner of Sobieski Skis and Worthington Cubs. See next weekends Rox article as details regarding possible schedule changes. There are concerns that the baseball field in Hutchinson may be flooded, which could force a time/location change.