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Lightning advance to 3rd round of state

The Nisswa Lighting amateur baseball team advanced to the second round of the Class C state tournament after defeating the Waseca Braves 4-2 on Saturday, Aug. 23.

The Lightning, 25-6 overall, will face St. Patrick at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30, in Jordan. Two other Victory League teams, Fort Ripley and Sobieski, also advanced and join Nisswa among the final 16 teams. Waseca, the Region 5 champion, finishes 28-4 overall.

"We've watched St. Patrick play a couple times over the past two weekends," said Nisswa player/manager Aaron Jenkins. "They look similar to us. They swing the bats well, but don't have a dominant strikeout pitcher."

Winning pitcher Jason Roepke allowed five hits and three walks in nine innings for the Lightning. Losing pitcher Geno Glynn, who allowed seven hits in also going the distance.

Nisswa assumed a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Jenkins scored on Drew Boland's double. The Lightning extended the lead in the second inning on Jenkins three-run homer with two outs.

"After I fell behind on the count 0-2, and I was just looking to fight off pitches until I got a pitch to handle," Jenkins explained. "The next pitch (Glynn) threw was a hanging slider up and in, and I put a good swing on it and it went out. At that time in the game, I didn't know it was going to be the last runs we would score."

Glynn settled down after the homer and allow just two hits the rest of the game, and he retired 15 of the final 16 hitters.

Meanwhile, Reopke cruised through the innings on the mound, and had the defensive support of his Nisswa teammates like Luke Schumer, who robbed Jim Loonan of a solo homer with a leaping catch over the fence in left field. Then it was Tyler Wittwer who made an admirable catch at the right field wall on a deep fly by Ryan Kramer.

"Jason (Roepke) did a great job, and did exactly what we have come to expect from him," Jenkins said. "He works quick, and throws a lot of strikes. He really attacks the hitters, which helps our defense play better behind him. He's not the type of guy who's going to go out and strike out 15 guys in a game, but he keeps the ball off the barrel of the bat and keeps the defense engaged."

The Braves finally scored in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run homer by Kelvin Nelson. But Roepke retired the next six hitters to clinch the win.

Jeremiah Piepkorn finished with two hits for Nisswa.