River Rats Put up 24 Runs in Two Games, Advance to Championship Sunday

Austin Koep went 6-9 in the two games on Saturday, July 22nd. Photo: Jim Wellbrock

By AJ Reisetter

The Northfield River Rats had quite the road to championship Sunday, but they were able to in electrifying action on Saturday, July 22nd, at Alimagnet Field in Burnsville. They started with an elimination game against Rosemount, where they mounted a five-run comeback to advance to the championship round. A few hours later, they dominated a team that had already defeated them twice this season, Farmington, 12-2. The River Rats will now face the number one-seeded Farmington Tigers again on Sunday, July 23rd, for a chance to punch their ticket to the legion state championships in Rochester.

Kam Kaiser had two huge games to help the River Rats force a championship Sunday. Photo: Jim Wellbrock

Five Run Comeback Launches Northfield to Championship Round

Things looked grim in the “win or go home” game for Northfield. Rosemount wasted no time jumping to a 5-0 lead in the first three innings. Tegan Mellgren started on the bump and allowed eight runs on ten hits over three innings. Mellgren started the fourth but was pulled after letting up three more runs. Northfield got on the board in the second after an Austin Koep home run tied the game, 1-1. The Irish would go on to score four more runs in the second and third.

In the fourth, down by four, the River Rats showed signs of life. Gavin Novotny led off the inning with a hit-by-pitch and Nolan Thompson followed with an infield bunt single to the third baseman. Ryan Cahoon loaded the bases after another hit-by-pitch. Two batters later Daniel Worden grounded into a fielder’s choice to score Novotny. Jake Geiger followed with a double to right field to score Thompson and push the score to 5-3. Rosemount however piled on scoring three more runs in the home half.

With things looking grim for the River Rats, a spark in the offense led to a six-run inning and Northfield’s first lead. The River Rats loaded the bases to start the sixth. Geiger walked to score Cahoon and Spencer Mellgren followed with a base hit to left field to score Rauk. Kam Kaiser, with the bases still loaded, cleared the bases with a triple to right that scored Daniel Worden, Geiger, and Spencer Mellgren. Koep drive in the sixth and final run of the inning to give Northfield their first lead of the game on a base hit to the third baseman that he beat out and scored Kaiser. Coming into the inning down by five, they left the inning with a 9-8 lead.

Jake Geiger at shortstop in a game earlier this year. Photo: Jim Wellbrock

Northfield piled on in the seventh. Kaiser drove in Geiger from second on a double and Novotny drove in Spencer Mellgren on a fielder’s choice. Kaiser also scored on the same play after an error by the Irish’s catcher Schimmel. Geiger and Koep closed out the game in the seventh on the mound for a final score of 12-8.

River Rats Ten Run One Seed Farmington

The Northfield River Rats carried the momentum from the previous game into the championship round. In the first inning, Koep drove in two runs off a screaming double to center field after Spencer and Kaiser walked. Ryan Cahoon notched an RBI in the first after grounding into a fielder’s choice and scoring Koep to take a 3-0 lead. However, in the bottom half of the first, the Tigers answered with two runs of their own off starting pitcher, Grant Hutton. In the second inning, Koep drove in Spencer and Kaiser again off another base hit.

Northfield continued to pile on in the third. After loading the bases, Oliver Hollerung hit a sacrifice fly to left field to score Nolan Thompson. Geiger followed with an RBI double to left that scored Cahoon. Kaiser knocked in two more on a ground ball to the third baseman that he couldn’t handle, and Kaiser ended up advancing to second and scoring Rauk and Geiger to give Northfield a 9-2 lead.

The River Rats’ offense delivered its final blows in the sixth, scoring three more runs. Hollerung notched his first RBIs of the game with a base hit to left field to score Cahoon. Spencer Mellgren walked in Novotny, and Kaiser hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Hollerung for a final score of 12-2.

Gabe Heinritz came into the game in the bottom of the sixth to close out the Tigers and end the game in six innings and force a game two.

River Rats spot Jim Wellbrock. Photo: Jim Welbrock

What’s Next?

The Northfield River Rats will take on the Farmington Tigers again, due to double elimination rules, at noon on Sunday, July 23rd for a chance to punch their ticket to the state tournament in Rochester. You can catch the game and all Legion games on NorthfieldLive.com and stay up to date with all Northfield activities by heading over to NorthfieldLive.com and following us on social media @NorthfiedLive