It’s been a while since Breckenridge last picked up 15 wins in a regular season. Granted they usually can’t fit 15 regular season games in their spring schedule because of long winters, but it’s still a massive feat for the Cowboys.
Breck improved their record to 15-5 with a 6-4 win over Sauk Centre, Minnesota, on Thursday, May 23 at Cowboy Field. The hosts answered every shot the Mainstreeters threw their way to secure a win that might have big seeding implications in a loaded sub-section.
“That was a heck of a season. I couldn’t be prouder of them,” Breckenridge coach Kevin Hiedeman said. “I don’t care what happens in the playoffs. We graduated seven or eight starters, pretty much our entire pitching staff and that group right there, with very little varsity experience, won 15 games. That’s not easy to do in high school baseball, so you’ve got to take your hats off to them.”
The visitors struck first with a run in the opening inning. Their first two batters reached to start the game and BHS weathered the storm to keep their opponents from putting another run on the rarely-operational scoreboard.
Breck answered in the same inning. With the bases loaded, Jack Aigner reached on a fielder’s choice, allowing Hunter Feigum to score. Two Cowboys were left on base as the home team went on to strand 11 runners on the night.
“We stranded a lot of runners today,” Hiedeman said. “We had opportunities to blow this thing open and didn’t do it, but when we had to get a hit, when we had to make a play, we got it.”
After a pair of scoreless innings, a bases-loaded double gave Sauk Centre the lead back. A third run almost scored in the rally, but the throw home was in time to the end the inning. Once again, Breckenridge quickly regained the lead in their next trip to the plate.
With runners on second and third, Brayden Wahl hit a grounder to the left side. Max Johnson got caught in the hotbox, but managed to beat the tag getting back to third, allowing Wahl (who reached base in all four of his plate appearances) to load the bases. Hayden Schuler poked an RBI single to shallow left and the tying run came in when Joe Skilbred reached on an error.
“Like these guys have done all year, we’ve been behind and the one thing these guys have never done is quit. We answered both times we got down and we’ve done that so many times this year I can’t even keep count,” Hiedeman said. “That has nothing to do with what I’m doing. That’s just something they’re doing. It’s impressive.”
With two runners on base for Jeremy Stack, the center fielder drilled one over the left fielder’s head for a stand-up triple.
“(Stack’s) got so much confidence right now. You can just see it when he comes up to the plate. He’s got all the tools. He can hit it long and he can run,” Hiedeman said. “He is not an easy out. There’s no question, when you need a hit he’s the guy you want the bat in his hands.”
The final Mainstreeter run came in off an error in an uncharacteristic day from the defense.
“You never want to be disappointed with a win, but if there was ever a time to be disappointed with a win this would be it. For the 20th game of the year we made a lot of mental mistakes that we can’t make next week,” Hiedeman said. “That was a little disappointing that we did some of that stuff today, but we overcame it.”
Cooper Yaggie gave his team a little more breathing room with an RBI double near the left-field fence in the sixth inning.
“That was gigantic,” Hiedeman said. “There’s a big difference when you’re on the mound pitching with a one-run lead than when you’re on the mound with a two-run lead.”
Aigner, another player to reach base in all four of his trips to the batter’s box, had his second single of the game in the sixth, but Breck left the bases loaded for the second inning in a row.
Jake Wendorff came in to finish the game on the mound and the defense held strong as Sauk Centre went down 1-2-3.
“Our pitching staff, those three guys (Haugen, Twidwell and Wendorff) have done a great job,” Hiedeman said.
The first Cowboy playoff game will be at home on Tuesday, May 28. Their opponent will be determined this weekend. They could be the third or fourth seed with Perham and Wadena-Deer Creek, Minnesota, locking up the top two spots.