Area Baseball: Wenzel, Flyers heading to state
COLLEGEVILLE--Travis Wenzel tossed a complete game and started a decisive double play for the third-seeded Little Falls Flyers who edged No. 2 Bemidji 3-2 in the Section 8-3A Championship Wednesday, June 5, earning a trip to the Class 3A state to...
COLLEGEVILLE-Travis Wenzel tossed a complete game and started a decisive double play for the third-seeded Little Falls Flyers who edged No. 2 Bemidji 3-2 in the Section 8-3A Championship Wednesday, June 5, earning a trip to the Class 3A state tournament Thursday, June 13.
Wenzel, a junior, struck out five, walked only one, and gave up two runs on seven hits.
"He came up big when we needed him to," said Little Falls head coach Chad Kaddatz. "Travis just kind of took the game over and held them down. We left a couple of opportunities on the base path (six runners stranded), but did just enough offensively to get ourselves a win."
Mason Dempsey finished 2-3 with a double for Little Falls. Wenzel, Arik Schwanke and Sam Nagel added lone singles as did Alex Gwost who stole three bases.
"We scored two in the second inning," said Kaddatz, "and then they answered back with one in the top of the third. We scored another in the bottom of the third to make it 3-1. They picked up a run in the sixth and we led 3-2 going into the seventh."
In the top of the seventh, Bemidji's leadoff hitter singled and the next batter attempted to move him into scoring position with a bunt.
"The bunt went right to Wenzel who spun and threw a perfect strike to our shortstop covering second to start a double play," said Kaddatz. "That was definitely the biggest play of the game. And then Travis got the next batter to fly out to right on the next pitch."
The trip to state is the Flyer's 15th in program history and first since 2016 when they finished third. They will play Thursday, June 13, at Siebert Field on the University of Minnesota campus against an opponent and time to be determined.
In their previous 14 appearances, the Flyers were state champs in 1957 in a single class tournament, and Class 2A winners in the 1979 two-class tournament. They have placed third five times, including 2016 and were consolation champs in 1959.
"It was exciting to see the kids celebrate knowing what's coming up for them," said Kaddatz. "A week at state is such a thrill and I'm glad they're getting a chance to experience that."
After finishing the regular season 10-9, both the hitting and pitching was starting to click according to Kaddatz, who is in his seventh year as Little Falls head coach.
The Flyers knocked Bemidji into the loser's bracket with a 2-1 win in their first section game and then 10-runned top-seeded Alexandria 12-2 in the semifinals. Bemidji beat Alex 9-3 earlier Wednesday to advance to the championship game.
Bemidji 2 7 2
Little Falls 3 6 0
WP: Travis Wenzel. LP: Johnny Melhus. 2B: LF-Mason Dempsey. Overall: LF 13-9. Next: Class 3A State Tournament at Siebert Field, Minneapolis, Thursday, June 13.