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Tabor rallies to eliminate Redfield from state tourney

Easton Mudder, of Tabor, turns on a pitch during Monday’s game against Redfield at the American Legion Class B State Baseball Tournament in Redfield. Photo by John Davis taken 7/31/2023

REDFIELD – Tabor lost some battles, but ended up winning the war against Redfield on Monday afternoon. Despite trailing for the majority of the game and being outhit, the Bluebirds found a way to rally past the host squad 5-3 in an elimination contest at the State B Legion Baseball Tournament.

Trailing 3-0, Tabor scored five runs on just two hits in the bottom of the fifth inning to fuel the victory.

“We couldn’t have asked our kids to play any better,” said Redfield coach Tommy Gregg. “I’m sure a lot of them will probably replay that, it’s not even a bad inning, it’s just baseball.”

Tabor had watched Keaton Rohlfs pitch four no-hit innings of baseball for Redfield.

“That was vintage Keaton tonight,” Gregg said. “When he gets going, he was on cruise control.”

Rohlfs helped his own cause with a two-run double in the top of the fifth putting Tabor in a pretty tough spot.

“Trust me, I was sitting in the third base coaching box, thinking we might not score, because that’s how good Rohlfs was there for a while,” said Tabor coach Gary Kortan. “And then once we got him into the stretch, he was just a different pitcher.”

The uprising started innocent enough with a ground out. Then Tabor got its first baserunner on a hit batter and then its first hit. Two walks and two hit batters later, the scored was knotted up at 3-3. After another out was recorded, Easton Mudder produced the biggest hit of the contest.

Mudder turned on an 1-0 pitch and lined a ball that hit the third-base bag and rolled down the leftfield line to produce the game-winning runs.

“I just knew with the base loaded and two outs with a tie game that I needed to put the ball somewhere where they couldn’t get it, because they were making every play out there,” Mudder said. “I just wanted to come up big for the team.”

It’s safe to say that Mudder has probably never come up bigger in his life.

“I’ll be honest, I don’t think so,” Mudder said when asked if he had gotten a bigger hit in his career. “That might have been the one.”

From there, Redfield kept the pressure on. The hosts advanced a runner to second base in the sixth, but failed to cash in. Peyton Osborn then doubled in the seventh with two outs before Rohlfs hit a shot that was snagged by third baseman Landon Bares to end the contest.

“They hit a ball hard there at the end,” Kortan said. “If we don’t make that play, things get really interesting.”

It was a fitting battle for a pair of squads who have gotten to know each other well over the last few years, including Tabor’s win over Redfield in the state championship game two years ago in Groton.

“They were the perfect team to give us fits. They battle, they foul pitches off, they can run the bases better than most teams,” Kortan said. “We’ve been playing those guys the last three years. Hats off to them. They had a great run, too.”

Riley Rothschadl got the pitching victory, recording all but one out in the seventh.

“The legend of Riley Rothschadl,” Gregg said. “What you hear is exactly what you get.”

The contest marked the end for seven Redfield seniors who have provided numerous trips to state tourneys among their long list of accomplishments.

“We don’t just look at this tournament,” said Osborn, one of those seniors. “Now we might for a little bit, but you look at the last 4-5 years. We just battled every day, every game, knew what we were doing. I love these guys, so it was a lot of fun.”

Redfield’s Peyton Osborn, center and Kevin Weller, left, celebrate as they both scored to give them a 3-0 lead during Monday’s game against Tabor at the American Legion Class B State Baseball Tournament in Redfield. Photo by John Davis taken 7/31/2023

Osborn had a memorable final state tourney with a pair of doubles and also a grand slam home run in the opening round game. He said there are two things that he will remember most about his playing days with Redfield.

“Winning Junior Legion State here in Redfield,” he said, “and then just playing with my older brother and my other brothers with my dad coaching. That’s my greatest memory, biggest memory.”

Gregg said that this year’s group of seniors will be hard to replace, but that the program will carry on with the next lot of players.

“It’s small-town baseball,” Gregg said. “You get parents that are involved in baseball and then they pass the baton generationally.”

Tabor will take on Elk Point-Jefferson at 1 p.m. with the winner to meet Dell Rapids in the state championship game around 4 p.m.

Kortan is excited about his team’s chances.

“We made it to Tuesday,” Kortan said. “That was our goal after we lost that first one and I still think we’ve got a few arms available to keep us in the game.”

Redfield 100 020 0 – 3 4 1

Tabor 000 050 x – 5 3 0

Keaton Rohlfs and Eli Morrissette; Riley Rothschadl, Landon Smith (7) and Logan Winckler. 2B – Redfield, Rohlfs, Peyton Osborn.

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