New York Mills advances in Minnesota Class 1A baseball tournament with walk-off
CHASKA, Minn. – The undefeated New York Mills baseball team traveled to the Twin Cities Wednesday night, three wins away from the elusive Minnesota Class 1A state championship that’s evaded the Eagles the past three years.
But on Thursday, the three wins took a back seat to the three-run deficit the Eagles faced against Ely.
Game. Perfect season. State championship. All on the line.
The Eagles rallied to tie the game in the sixth inning and won 4-3 on right fielder Damon Tumberg’s walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Tumberg’s teammates erupted in jubilation and sprinted to mob Tumberg along the first-base line in celebration.
“This has been the most special year of baseball I’ve ever been a part of,” Tumberg said. “This will be a memory that I’ll cherish.”
New York Mills will play Chatfield today in semifinal game. The winner will play for the state championship on Saturday.
Eagles ace Brandon Kupfer admittedly didn’t have his best stuff on Thursday. Kupfer worked through jam after jam, but the Timberwolves had a couple minor breakthroughs and seized a comfortable 3-0 lead in the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, New York Mills seemingly couldn’t buy a hit off Ely starting pitcher Louis Gerzin.
Gerzin allowed just one hit through the game’s first five innings.
“The biggest thing that was going through our mind … (was that) the game isn’t over until the final out is recorded,” New York Mills head coach Chris Bushinger said. “If it’s the fifth inning and you’re down a couple runs, you can’t take yourself out of it.”
Kupfer settled down and pitched a scoreless sixth inning. He hits, too. And with an at-bat in the bottom of the sixth on the horizon, Kupfer had one thing on his mind.
“I had to come up clutch at the plate,” Kupfer said. “I got lucky enough to do that.”
With his Eagles five outs away from elimination, he crushed an RBI double into the right-center field gap. Gerzin’s control wavered from that point forward. First baseman Tyler Patron followed with a bloop single.
Pinch-runner Tyler Ehnert scored on a passed ball and Patron scored on third baseman Tucker Skoblik’s sacrifice fly to tie the game.
Kupfer breezed through the seventh inning, setting the stage for Tumberg’s heroics.
Bushinger said Kupfer is “the true leader of this team” and pointed to the RBI double as a turning point for the Eagles.
“What he does, everybody feeds off it,” Bushinger said. “He’s had a phenomenal year.”
So have the Eagles. They’re 24-0 and have outscored opponents 208-34 this season. But Bushinger emphasized the importance of staying focused on the end goal.
“We’re on step closer, but we still have another step to make,” Bushinger said. “One game at a time.”
E 001 020 0–3 9 1
NYM 000 003 1–4 4 1
Gerzin and M. Gnatt. Kupfer and A. Patron. W–Kupfer. L–Gerzin.