By PATRICK SLACK
Fort Ripley entered the Region 8C tournament, Saturday, with an unblemished 14-0 record in Victory League play this summer.
Most of those wins came on the strength of strong pitching efforts, as the Rebels limited opponents to two runs or less in 11 of those 12 games.
So, when Avon took the field, the Lakers, knew they would have to receive a dominant performance from starting pitcher Troy Wunderlich.
Wunderlich delivered for six innings, matching Fort Ripley’s Ethan Branum pitch-for-pitch as the game was tied 0-0 heading into the seventh inning.
At that point, though, the Rebels did what they do best, taking advantage of the scoring opportunities they are given to support a lights-out pitching staff.
Nick Jelacie led off with a double and advanced to third on a fly out. A costly error allowed Jelacie to score the go-ahead run and a wild pitch brought home Jason Sather with the second and final run of the game.
Avon had only three hits in the game and could not advance a runner to third base.
Branum finished with 10 strike outs, issuing only one walk for the shutout.
Jelacie went 2-for-3, while Bill Sather and Jason Sather picked up Fort Ripley’s other two hits.
Fort Ripley advances to the second round to take on defending region-champion Sobieski, Sunday, at 7:30 p.m. Avon will play Buckman in an elimination game, Sunday, at 1:30 p.m.
Avon Lakers 0 3 2
Fort Ripley Rebels 2 4 1
Lakers-Jeff Swenson: 1-3, 2B; Charlie Lockridge: 1-4, SB; Luke Manthe: 1-3; LP-Troy Wunderlich: 7-IP, 2-R, 4-H, 1-BB, 3-K.
Rebels-Nick Jelacie: 2-3, 2B, R; Jason Sather: 1-3, R, SB; Bill Sather: 1-3, 2B; WP-Ethan Branum: 9-IP, 0-R, 3-H, 1-BB, 10-K.