AVON -- Jason Roepke pitched 5 1/3 innings in relief to earn the win for the Nisswa Lightning who claimed the Region 8C Championship with a 5-2 victory over the Fort Ripley Rebels Sunday, Aug. 11.
The win gives the Lightning their third Region 8 title after winning back to back titles in 2015 and 2016. It also assures them the No. 1 seed From the Region and a first-round bye in the State Class C Tournament that begins Friday, Aug. 16 at multiple sites. Nisswa will face the winner of the Hadley (13B) vs. Sleepy Eye (2C) game 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, in Maple Lake.
Nisswa starter Brett Jenkins surrendered both runs, five hits and seven walks without a strikeout before giving the mound to Roepke with two outs in the top of the fourth and the score tied 2-2. Fort Ripley stranded 10 runners in the first four innings and left the bases loaded three times.
Roepke tossed a two-hit shutout the rest of the way. He walked two and struck out one. Offensively, Roepke reached base five times. He went 1-1 with an RBI single, walked once and was hit by a pitch three times.
Jake Lynn, a draftee from Aitkin, was tagged with the loss for the Rebels. He allowed all five runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings.
Nisswa got on the board first when it plated two runs in the second. Base hits by Morgan Shepherd and Chris Pederson and a bunt single by Tyler Wittwer loaded the bases. Brent Jenkins walked forcing in a run and one out later, a sacrifice fly by Jeremiah Piepkorn made it 2-0.
Fort Ripley got a run back in the third on a sacrifice fly by Bill Sather.
The Rebels tied the game in the fourth when Nick Jelacie beat out an infield single with two outs. Jenkins then walked three straight batters including a run-scoring walk. That led to Roepke taking over the mound for Nisswa.
The Lightning took the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth on RBI singles from Roepke and Aaron Jenkins after the bases were loaded with one out. A run-scoring triple by Brett Jenkins in the fifth completed the scoring.
Nisswa is the only team this year that has been able to defeat the Rebels who won the Victory League regular season title with a 10-1 record. The Lightning won the first meeting 4-2 June 7 and lost 8-7 June 29. They beat the Rebels 2-1 in the divisional playoffs and edged them again 6-5 in the region semifinals Aug. 4. Nisswa takes a 15-3 record into the state tournament.
Fort Ripley advances to the state tournament with a 13-4 record and the second seed. It will face Lake City (5C) 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, in Delano. Buckman the third seed out of the region will face Stewartville-Racine (5B) Saturday, Aug. 17, in Delano and Avon will play Lake Henry (15B) 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, in Delano.
Fort Ripley 2 7 1
Nisswa 5 10 0
WP: Jason Roepke. LP: Jake Lynn. 2B: FR-Zach Heidmann. 3B: N-Brett Jenkins.