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Region 8C Baseball: Rubber match between Rebels, Lightning Saturday

During the regular season, the Fort Ripley Rebels defeated the Nisswa Lightning 7-1 and 3-2. In the Victory League North Division playoffs, the Lightning returned the favor, prevailing 6-2 and 6-1. Saturday's Region 8C winners bracket game will b...

During the regular season, the Fort Ripley Rebels defeated the Nisswa Lightning 7-1 and 3-2.

In the Victory League North Division playoffs, the Lightning returned the favor, prevailing 6-2 and 6-1.

Saturday's Region 8C winners bracket game will be the rubber match as the Rebels and Lightning meet at 7 p.m. at Freeport. Both have already clinched berths in the Class C state tournament which opens Aug. 19-21 at Dassel, Hutchinson and Litchfield.

Having played four times this season, as well as many times in years past, means there are no secrets between the teams.

Rebels manager Brett Kramer tentatively plans to start right-hander Logan Kalis against Nisswa.

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"They've seen all of us so many times," Kramer said. "Ethan Branum started the last few times against them. He threw a no-hitter against them last year so he's had success but they've also seen him in a lot of at bats. You start to lose effectiveness when they've seen your pitches over and over again.

"Logan has a good, running 2-seam fastball. If he can get it on the knees, and if he's got a little zip that night, I think he can be effective. We have other horses in the stable ready to pitch if we need them."

Lightning manager Aaron Jenkins isn't sure who his starter will be but he doesn't believe it makes much difference.

"When you play a team as many times as we've played Fort Ripley over the years, you get to know everything," he said. "It comes down to making sure from our pitchers' standpoint that we execute our pitches and adjust to what their pitchers are trying to do to us on the offensive side.

"They all know where to pitch our hitters. We all know where to pitch their hitters. It's whoever makes the adjustments. Basically we have to play good defense and we can't give them any free runs."

Kalis paces Rebels

Kalis has paced Fort Ripley (21-5) on the mound with an 8-1 mark and 0.55 ERA. He has allowed just 37 hits in 65 innings with 65 strikeouts and just 19 walks. At the plate, he's hitting a team-high .330 with 24 RBIs.

Branum is 5-1 with a 3.08 ERA, Jack Hegarty 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA and Kramer 3-1 with a 1.06 ERA.

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"I pitched quite a bit early," Kramer said. "As of late, I haven't pitched as much. I've been nursing a little bit of an elbow injury. Ethan has probably been our biggest workhorse. He's probably thrown the most innings for us. Jack has pitched well as of late.

"Logan's always been our reliable guy. We can start him, he can relieve, he can pitch back-to-back days. He's a bit of a workhorse as well. When you can go four guys deep, that certainly helps when you have four good arms."

Hegarty and Nick Jelacie are both hitting .329, Rhett Williamson .316 and Kramer .309. Williamson has drilled a team-high 10 doubles, Jelacie has hit four home runs with 20 RBIs.

"Rhett has probably been our most consistent hitter," Kramer said. "Jack has been pretty good as well. Recently Logan has turned it on, hitting two grand slams in the region tournament last weekend. He's squaring up the ball well.

"Everyone has had some good games. We're starting to put together some better at bats."

The Rebels won their first 14 games before losing to Plato 10-0 in the championship game of the Arlington/Gaylord tournament.

DeChaine powers Nisswa

Nate DeChaine has been the Lightning's top hitter with a .443 average. He has hit nine of Nisswa's 41 home runs and leads the team in RBIs with 38. He's also one of its top pitchers with a 2-0 mark and 0.82 ERA in 22 innings.

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Following DeChaine at the plate are Drew Boland .423, Luke Schumer .417, Jeremiah Piepkorn .388, Jenkins .371 and Morgan Shepherd .319.

Piepkorn has driven in 31 runs and cranked five homers. Boland has slashed nine doubles and Schumer six home runs.

"Really, everybody's been hitting the ball pretty well," Jenkins said. "It's been a different guy (coming through) each game."

Kyle Schaible sports the Lightning's best record at 7-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 40 innings. Scott Sand is 7-1 with a 1.98 ERA in 59 innings.

Jenkins said Sand, Schaible and DeChaine have been Nisswa's go-to starters with Schumer its most effective reliever.

"Kyle is definitely our biggest strike-thrower," Jenkins said. "By far he works the quickest and is most efficient on his pitches. Sand is probably our most complete pitcher. He uses the most pitches and works effectively. Nate is probably our hardest-thrower.

"None of them has a real standout pitch. They all just have good stuff."

Jenkins is unsure of his starter against Fort Ripley.

"We've started Sand multiple times against them already," he said. "I'm not sure if we'll go with him again or what the plan is yet."

Nisswa has lost only twice in 22 games-to Fort Ripley-and is ranked third in Class C. The Rebels are ranked ninth.

"Rankings don't mean anything," Jenkins said. "All that matters is who's standing on top at the end."

CLASS C RANKINGS

As of July 26:

1. Plato Bluejays (49 points)

2. Sartell Muskies (45)

3. Nisswa Lightning (41)

4. Blue Earth Pirates (33)

5. Jordan Brewers (29)

6. Green Isle Irish (20)

7. New Market Muskies (17)

8. Morris Eagles (16)

9. Fort Ripley Rebels (9)

10. Lamberton Long Sox (8)

Related Topics: NISSWA LIGHTNING
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