By Blaze Fugina
The Brandon-Evansville Bluedogs have secured the Resorters West Title and are now playing for a spot in the state tournament.
The Bluedogs will have to finish as one of the top two teams in the Region 16C Tournament in order to advance to state. The first game for the Bluedogs is at 11 a.m. this Saturday against the Huntersville Horse Flies in Urbank.
"The state tournament is our goal every year, so the motivation is there," Bluedogs player Mike Bruns said.
Finishing as one of the top two teams is tough with the level of competition in the region. The Midway Snurdbirds won the Class C state title in 2010, and the Fergus Falls Hurricanes made the final four last year after beating the Bluedogs in the state qualifying game.
"Bottom line, you have to find a way to beat two of the best teams in the state of Minnesota if you want to make the state tournament out of Region 16C, since only two teams advance," Bruns said. "It's a tough road."
The Bluedogs should have their entire roster available heading into the regional tournament, and Bruns said the team is healthy. The Bluedogs also drafted left-handed pitcher Derek Waldvogel from Osakis for use in the region tournament.
With the potential for three weekend games, the Bluedogs will use Waldvogel, Collin Modahl and Shawn Krueger as starting pitchers.
"Our pitching and defense will be good enough to win games at the region tournament," Bruns said. "But you have to find a way to score runs against quality pitching if you want to advance in the tournament."
Making the region tournament is nothing new for the Bluedogs, as they have appeared every year since 2001 except in 2003.
"The Bluedogs take a lot of pride in putting a quality team on the field, especially since many of the guys have been playing for 10-plus years," Bruns said. "Our success comes from everyone knowing their role, and because of that, we have a lot of fun playing, which translates to wins on the field."
The Bluedogs won the Resorters West title by defeating the Urbank-Parkers Prairie Bombers 3-1 this past Sunday in Evansville.
Modahl pitched eight scoreless innings for the win, only giving up four hits and striking out six. Ryan Hendrickson picked up the save in the ninth inning, allowing one earned run on two hits with two strikeouts.
The Bluedogs scored two of their three runs in the fourth inning when Shawn Krueger doubled to drive in two runs.
An error by Urbank-Parkers Prairie also allowed catcher Nate Meissner to score in the fifth inning.
Urbank-Parkers Prairie also will be playing in the regional tournament as the Resorters West runner-up.
URBANK-PP 000 000 001 - 1 6 1
B-E 000 210 000 - 3 6 1
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE PITCHING - Collin Modahl - W, 8IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 6SO; Ryan Hendrickson - S, 1IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 2SO
BRANDON-EVANSVILLE OFFENSE - Nate Meissner - 1-4, run, 2B; Lee Nelson - 1-4, run; Ryan Hendrickson - 1-2, run, BB, HBP; Brent Meissner - 0-2, HBP; Shawn Krueger - 2-4, 2 RBIs, 2B; Chris Shea - 1-3