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NYM falls in Class 1A state baseball title game

Tucker Skoblik rips one of his two base hits in the Minnesota Class A championship game at Target Field. Paul Gregersen / Special to The Forum

MINNEAPOLIS – The New York Mills baseball team came up 90 feet short of tying the Minnesota Class 1A state championship game in its final at-bat to finish the season with its only loss – a 5-4 heartbreaker to New Life Academy of Woodbury on Monday at Target Field.

“We didn’t play our best game today,” NYM head coach Chris Bushinger said. “That second inning ... Brandon (Kupfer) gave up a few hits, but we had a few errors out in the field. We left eight runners on base, but to get an opportunity to play in a place like this, make it to a state championship game, certainly can’t forget about the successes we had.”

New Life Academy (25-4) got on the board with a two-out rally in the first inning on a single by John Horner, who scored on an RBI double by catcher Simon Killeen for the 1-0 lead.

Kupfer gave up four hits and four runs in the second inning, along with a pair of Eagles errors as New Life Academy batted around the order.

Leadoff hitter Matthew Palkovich had a two-run double and scored the eventual game-winner on a two-run single by Sam Horner.

“Once-in-a-lifetime chance, I just had that one rough inning and it’s going to haunt me,” said Kupfer. “So close, yet so far.”

After the nightmare second inning, Kupfer was locked in, allowing two hits the rest of the game and retiring New Life Academy in order in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings.

New York Mills rallied with a possible answer in the bottom half of the second inning.

Tyler Patron singled and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Daniel Kraft, but NLA starter John Horner worked out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam stranding three Eagles on the bases to keep the lead 5-1.

New York Mills pulled to within one run in the fourth inning.

Kraft led off with a walk, followed by Tucker Skoblik’s second single of the game. With two away, Damon Tumberg hit a liner off right fielder Thomas Becken’s glove to score Kraft and courtesy runner Taylor Ericksrud, running for Skoblik. Tumberg cut the deficit to 5-4, scoring on a long double by Kupfer.

Kupfer had started both late-inning rallies to win in the quarterfinals and semifinals and came up to lead off the seventh inning. Reliever Sam Horner induced a 6-3 putout for the first out.

Tyler Patron hit a long double off the wall to get in scoring position with one out and moved to third on a ground out to second base by Dustin Gaudette.

Adam Patron, playing with an injured hand, came to the plate with his brother 90 feet away with the tying run and two out. Horner got his third ground ball of the inning to end the game.

“That’s the game of baseball,” Bushinger said. “We gave ourselves an opportunity to tie it up, and it didn’t happen.”

Tyler Patron and Skoblik each had a pair of hits for New York MIlls.

Kupfer allowed six hits, five runs, three earned. He fanned four batters and walked two.

John Horner picked up the victory pitching four innings, allowing all four Eagles runs on five hits. Horner’s brother Sam picked up the save with three innings of one-hit ball.

Tumberg, Patron and Kupfer were all named to the Class A all-tournament team for NYM (25-1).

NLA                       140      000         0–5    7    1

NYM                     010      300         0–4    6    3

J. Horner, S. Horner (5) and Killeen. Kupfer and Patron. W–J. Horner. L–Kupfer. S–S. Horner.