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Baseball: Hadley's big night helps Urbank beat Alexandria in Region 16C elimination playoff game

Austen Hadley goes 3-for-4 in the Urbank Bombers' 9-6 win over the Alexandria Black Sox in a Minnesota Baseball Association Region 16C Playoff elimination game. Urbank faces the Sauk Centre Titans in Kensington on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a spot in the Region 16C championship game and a spot in the state tournament on the line. The Fergus Falls Hurricanes will play the winner of the Urbank-Sauk Centre game in Kensington at 4 p.m. on Saturday.

04-Urbank Austen Hadley-DSC_9257.JPG
Urbank's Austen Hadley runs to third base during a playoff game on Aug. 12, 2022, in Carlos against the Alexandria Black Sox. Hadley had three RBI hits in the team's 9-6 win.<br/>
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press
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CARLOS - With the score tied at six in the bottom of the seventh inning in a battle with Alexandria Black Sox, the Urbank Bombers had the chance to go ahead late with runners on second and third base with one out.

Austen Hadley provided the big bat the Bombers needed with an RBI single to go up 7-6. Later in the inning, Urbank scored insurances with a two-RBI double from Colton Booker and won 9-6 in a Minnesota Baseball Association Region 16C Playoff elimination game.

“We just had to stay focused and play our game, so that’s what we did,” Hadley said about the team’s three-run seventh inning. “We focused in on our at-bats and had clutch hits with runners in scoring position.”

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Urbank's Levi Arnold kneels on 2nd base during a stoppage of play in the team's playoff game against the Alexandria Black Sox on Aug. 12, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Hadley came up big for the Bombers for the entire game and made a solid defensive play on a game-sealing throw from third base to first base for the final out of the game.

“I had to body up and just knock it down,” he said. “You’ve got to stay on your toes; you never know when the ball is coming your way.”

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Hadley led the Bombers offensively in its win with three RBI hits and four RBIs total.

“I had a line drive swing and just let the bat do the work,” Hadley said. “Hitting 3-for-4 with a couple of RBIs, I’ll take that any day of the week.”

With Friday’s win over Alexandria (a fellow Resorters League team), Urbank (14-4) is headed to Kensington on Saturday to face the Sauk Centre Titans at 1 p.m. in an additional elimination game. The winner of that game will face the Fergus Falls Hurricanes in the Region 16C championship game at 4 p.m. in Kensington on Saturday. The two teams in the Region 16C championship will advance to the MBA Class C State Tournament.

“Come playoff time; you’ve got to be good at all three aspects of the game; defense, hitting and pitching,” Hadley said. “Good teams are at least good at two of those and at this point of the year, it’s go to state or go home.”

Hadley said that making big defensive plays is key in these playoff games.

“Defense is where it all starts and you can’t walk batters or commit too many errors,” he said.

Urbank was one of the final three teams left in the 2021 Region 16C Playoffs but lost an elimination game to Fergus Falls 15-6. Alexandria won the 2021 Region 16C Championship and made a run to the final four of the MBA Class C State Tournament.

Hadley said that the team has benefited from using the “small ball” offensive strategy this season and says they’ve been living off of it.

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Urbank started off the playoffs with win a 9-1 win over the Dent Wildcats before it lost 3-0 to Fergus Falls on Aug. 8, 2022. Urbank bounced back with a 2-0 win over the Breckenridge Bucks to get to Friday’s elimination game.

Along with Hadley, Drew Johnson had three hits in Friday’s win over the Black Sox, while Hunter Arnold had a pair, and Booker and Sam Haley had one.

Travis Krueger got things rolling for Alexandria early with a two-RBI home run in the top of the first inning. Alexandria built off that momentum in the second inning with an Alex Jenkins RBI single and a run on a Urbank error to go up 4-0.

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Alexandria's Travis Krueger rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning of a MBA Region 16C Playoff game against the Urbank Bombers on Aug. 12, 2022, in Carlos.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

But that momentum was halted for a while, thanks in part to Johnson, who threw seven strikeouts in four innings pitched and kept things steady for Urbank as it began to cut into its deficit. Alex Koep threw the final four innings on the mound for Urbank and earned the win with nine strikeouts thrown.

Hunter Haggenmiller was the starter on the mound for the Bombers and came off the mound after being hit with an awkwardly bouncing groundball in the top of the second inning.

“Getting our starter knocked out in the second inning with his hand getting hit with the ball changed our game plans right away,” Hadley said. “Our guys stepped up and shut the door on them.”

The Bombers began clawing back from its deficit in the bottom of the second inning with an RBI double by Hadley, another run on an error and a run scored off of a groundout hit by Colton Booker.

Urbank took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the third inning with a two-RBI double by Hunter Arnold after a Hadley RBI double.

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An RBI double by Johnson increased Urbank’s 6-4 lead in the fourth inning.

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Urbank's Drew Johnson hurls a pitch to the mound in the 2nd inning of the team's playoff game against the Alexandria Black Sox on Aug. 12, 2022, in Carlos.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

The Black Sox tied things back up in the top of the fifth with an RBI single by Brady Burgau and an RBI sacrifice fly from Zach Jannettee to tie the game at six.

Krueger, along with Jenkins, led the Black Sox in hits with two, while Jannettee, Burgau, Brett Savelkoul, Chris Curry and Shay Endres each had one.

Carter Stockert pitched the first seven innings for the Black Sox and struck out five batters before Curry pitched in the eighth inning.

Black Sox reflect on 2022 and look ahead to 2023

The Black Sox are proud of their effort and what they did this season. The Black Sox are looking to build off of this season.

“This is a good group of dudes who always have fun together,” Curry said. “It’s kind of like a brotherhood. We have each other's backs and everything. It’s a lot easier playing when your playing for a family and stuff. It just makes it easier to go out there every day and do it and have fun that way."

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Alexandria's Travis Krueger (19) and Alex Jenkins (4) tap helmets after Krueger's 2-run home run in the team's Region 16C Playoff game on Aug. 12, 2022, in Carlos.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Alexandria finished the 2022 season with a 12-5 record.

“We were really hot at the year and played good baseball against teams that are also good,” Curry said. “We had a lot of close games this year. Usually, we’re a team that piles on the runs, but this year it's been pitching and defense that’s led us.”

In terms of reclaiming the Region 16C crown in 2023, the Black Sox are hoping that an increase in players and consistent availability will lead them there.

“Next year, we’ll have a couple more younger guys coming in and a few guys coming back,” Curry said. “Those numbers will definitely help us.”

In the playoffs, the Black Sox beat the Long Prairie Predators (2-1), Breckenridge Bucks (7-4), then fell to Sauk Centre (3-0) but bounced back with a 2-0 win over the Dent Wildcats before being eliminated by the Bombers on Friday.

ALEXANDRIA - 2 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 - 6 10 2 

URBANK - 0 2 3 1 0 0 3 0 X - 9 10 2 

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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