Strong performances by pitcher Jacob Dickmeyer and the defense led the Miesville Mudhens to a 3-0 victory over the Rochester Royals Friday night, Aug. 2, at Jack Ruhr Field. It was the first game of the Section 1B playoffs in which the Mudhens are the No. 1 seed and the Royals No. 6.
Despite the top-versus-bottom seed matchup, Miesville and Rochester finished just three games apart in the Section 1B standings and split the two games between them during the regular season. The winner of the best-of-three series advances to the Class B state tournament in Delano, Maple Lake and Dassel-Cokato. Game two in the series is on Sunday, Aug. 4, in Rochester. If needed, game three would be back in Miesville on Tuesday, Aug. 6.
The Mudhens faced a tough test right away from Rochester's starting pitcher Matt Meyer, 34, who played college baseball for Boston College, was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2006 and over a seven-year minor league career (plus four years in other leagues) reached the Triple-A level three times for the Indians and Los Angeles Angels. Miesville would be the first to tell you there is still plenty of life left in Meyer's left arm as he struck out nine Mudhens over eight innings.
The Mudhens were able to get to Meyer and the Royals early as Matt Van Der Bosch and Joey Werner each bunted for singles to start the game and then moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Nate Hammes. It was clear that the Mudhens wanted to force the tall (6 feet 4 inch) lefty off the mound and it worked. Austin LaDoux then brought in Van Der Bosch on an RBI groundout and Tanner Vavra scored Werner with an RBI single. The Mudhens led 2-0 after the first inning and only one more run was scored the rest of the game.
Jacob Dickmeyer-who missed a significant portion of the regular season while traveling overseas-returned at the start of July and has slowly worked back into shape. He was nothing short of spectacular with his typical fast pace on the mound as he threw a complete-game shutout of the Royals, allowing just four hits, a walk and a hit batsmen with eight strikeouts.
"Yeah I think tonight especially I felt better, it was the first time my arm felt like real fresh," Dickmeyer said about his performance. "I'm just kind of getting back in the swing of things and extending innings has been big for me, but I felt good today. I threw my changeup pretty well tonight for strikes, which is a big part of my success when I do well, and then I commanded the zone pretty well."
Rochester never seriously threatened offensively and when it looked like they might, the Miesville defense made a tremendous play. The middle infield pair of Brad Goulet and Tanner Vavra turned two double plays and almost had a third, while Brian Sprout flashed his leather and athleticism at first when he dove and snagged a line drive in the hole.
"The defense was the best we've had all year, Brad played out of his mind, Sprout made a play, Dylan Blake (at third) played really well, it was just a really good overall game," Dickmeyer said about the support behind him.
The Mudhens went ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the fifth when Max Morris doubled with one out and eventually scored on an RBI single by Van Der Bosch, which proved to be more than enough for Miesville. Van Der Bosch led the team with two hits, while five other Mudhens had one each. He, LaDoux and Vavra had their three RBI, while Van Der Bosch, Werner and Morris all scored.
In other Section 1B action, No. 2 Northfield beat No. 5 Elko 18-2 and No. 4 Dundas defeated No. 3 Hampton 2-0 in their respective game ones. Game two for both those series are also on Sunday and any game threes are on Tuesday.