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Lightning advance at state tourney

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The Nisswa Lightning advanced to the second round of the Class C state baseball tournament after edging Cannon Falls 4-3 on Saturday, Aug. 16, in Belle Plaine.

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The Bears had an 11-6 edge in hits, but did commit five errors while the Lightning played errorless ball.

Nisswa, 24-6 overall, and the No. 2 seed from Region 8, is scheduled to face Region 5 champion Waseca at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, in Jordan.

"Waseca is another team that we've never played before," said Lightning player/manager Aaron Jenkins, whose team also faced Cannon Falls for the first time. "(Waseca) has good pitching and a solid lineup with a 28-3 record."

Nisswa lost in the second round of state in 2012, and advanced to the final six teams at state in its first state appearance in 2011.

Against Cannon Falls, the Lightning grabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third against left-handed pitcher Keith Meyers, a former minor league hurler who was 10-0 this season. Brett Jenkins reached on an error and eventually scored on a double by his older brother, Aaron.

The Bears tied it the fourth, and missed a chance at taking the lead when Nisswa outfielder Tyler Wittwer threw out a runner at the plate.

The Lightning grabbed a 2-1 lead with another unearned run in the bottom of the fourth. Nisswa then added two more runs in the seventh when Aaron Jenkins blasted a two-run homer.

"I got ahead on the count, and (Meyers) threw me a high changeup that I sat back and hit it," said Jenkins, who has three homers in the past five games.

Nisswa led 4-1 behind starting pitcher Jason Roepke, who had retired 10 of 11 hitters in the middle innings. After hitting into a double play to start the eighth, the Bears then loaded the bases and then scored two runs on Taylor Pagel's double. The potential tying run was thrown out at home plate to end the inning.

Roepke shut down the Bears in the final two innings for the win. Roepke struck out five, and allowed 11 hits in going the distance.

"Jason mostly gives up singles," Aaron Jenkins said of Roepke, who improved his pitching record to 7-0 this season. "He's not overpowering, but he does throw strikes, and gets the big strikeout when he needs it."

Aaron Jenkins led Nisswa's offense with three hits and three RBI.

"We have one of the deepest lineups in the state," Jenkins said. "At anytime, someone can have a big game."

Nate Otto had three hits while Pagel drove in all three runs. Meyers finished with eight strikeouts as the Bears were eliminated in the first round for the third straight year.

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