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Lightning eliminated from playoffs

The Nisswa Lightning were eliminated from the Victory League North Division amateur baseball playoffs after losing to Fort Ripley 4-2 on Friday, July 19, in Pierz, and 7-4 at home against Freeport on Saturday, July 20.

Nisswa finishes 13-8 overall while Fort Ripley defeated Freeport 7-3 on Sunday, July 21, to win the North Division title. Both the Rebels and Freeport advance to the Region 8C tournament in Pierz.

“It’s frustrating,” Nisswa player/manager Aaron Jenkins said of not reaching the region tournament. “We had our chances. We had bases loaded in the ninth inning of both games, and didn’t come up with the big hit.”

The Lightning’s Jason Roepke was drafted as a pitcher for Fort Ripley while teammate Luke Schummer was drafted to pitch for Freeport for the region tournament.

Fort Ripley 4, Nisswa 2

On Friday, the Rebels led 1-0 before the Lightning tied it when Mike Zauher scored on Drew Boland’s sacrifice fly. Nisswa assumed a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Jeremiah Piepkorn walked and eventually scored.

Fort Ripley grabbed the lead with two runs in the sixth on a two-run homer by Logan Kalis and one in the eighth on Kalis’ sacrifice fly. Winning pitcher Ethan Branum pitched seven innings while Kalis tossed the final two innings of relief. Losing pitcher Bret Jenkins had five strikeouts in six innings while Schummer pitched the final two innings.

Zauhar was 3-for-4 while Aaron Jenkins doubled and Adam Hardy singled and walked. Jason Sather had two hits for Fort Ripley. Both teams had five hits.

“Both starting pitchers did a nice job, but we gave them two unearned runs,” said Aaron Jenkins, whose team made four errors, “We loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth inning and grounded out.”

The game ended just before midnight as the teams waited through a one and one-half hour rain delay. The playoff game was originally scheduled July 14, but postponed because of rain.

Freeport 7, Nisswa 4

On Saturday, Piepkorn gave the Lightning a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a two-run homer. Freeport pulled ahead 4-2 in the top of the third after a three-run shot by Troy Frieler. But Pierkorn belted his second homer in the bottom of the inning to cut the deficit to 4-3.

Freeport added three insurance runs in the top of the fifth on a bases-clearing, two-out double by Eric Eveslage. Nisswa could only manage a solo homer by Piepkorn in the seventh inning off winning pitcher winning pitcher Josh Vorpahl.

“It was the first time we had someone hit three homers in a game this season,” Aaron Jenkins said of Piepkorn’s hitting. “He had (Vorpahl) figured out.”

Besides the homers, Vorpahl pitched well with 11 strikeouts in seven innings. Losing pitcher Kyle Schaible was replaced in the third inning by Lincoln Messner. Schumer pitched the final five innings.

Piepkorn was 4-for-5 with four RBI while Hardy had two hits.