River Rats Take Sub-State Crown, Advance to State Tournament

River Rats gather around trophy after win. Photo: Ryan Heinritz

By AJ Reisetter

The sixth-seeded Northfield River Rats defied the odds last weekend and were crowned the Sub-State Region Five champions after upsetting the one-seeded Farmington Tigers, 9-1. Northfield will now prepare for the state tournament in Rochester, where they will play Mankato American, Foley, and Tri-City Red in pool play. The tournament starts Thursday, July 27th, and all games will be streamed on NorthfieldLive.com.

Tyler Hughes went 5.1 innings in the River Rats’ victory on Sunday. Photo: Jim Wellbrock

Dominant Pitching Silences Tigers’ Bats

Tyler Hughes started the pivotal game against the Tigers after throwing a complete game shutout against New Prague to start the tournament. Hughes went 5.1 innings allowing only one run on three hits while striking out three. Kam Kaiser relieved Hughes in the sixth and finished the game with three strikeouts over 1.2 innings. Hughes, over the tournament, pitched 12.1 innings and only allowed one run, and struck out eight batters over the two starts. Kaiser made two appearances in the tournament pitching three innings over two games and striking out four.

Offense Stays Hot Totaling 14 Hits in Win

Northfield the day before put up 24 runs over two games, 12 of those against the Farmington Tigers, and stayed red hot on Sunday putting up nine runs on 14 hits.

The scoring opened in the first after Spencer Mellgren fired a hot shot to left to get aboard, Kaiser hit a hard ground ball of his own to the second baseman, who bobbled it, and was able to score Mellgren on the error. Tegan Mellgren followed a batter later by getting aboard via a dropped third strike and Kaiser was able to score. Nolan Thompson followed up with a base hit to center to score Austin Koep and give the River Rats a 3-0 lead.

In the third, Kyan Rauk padded the lead with a base hit to right that plated Koep to make it a 4-0 ball game.

Austin Koep was perfect at the plate for the River Rats, going 5-5 with three runs and two RBIs in the win. Photo: Jim Wellbrock

An inning later, Austin Koep notched an RBI to continue his hot streak in the tournament, with a single to second base that he was able to leg out and drive in Jake Geiger.

Nolan Thompson led off the fifth with a triple. He was driven in by Rauk who legged out a double to right. He would come around to score, after stealing third base, on a sacrifice fly by Geiger (much to his teammate’s delight). Farmington’s lone run came in the fifth on a fielder’s choice to Geiger. The River Rats added two more runs for good measure in the sixth a seventh. The first came off the bat of Ryan Cahoon, who singled to right to score Koep. The second run came in the seventh on a base hit from Koep to score Gegier and give us the final score, 9-1.

What’s Next?

The River Rats will take on Mankato American on Thursday, July 27th, at 10:30 am in their first pool play game. They will play Tri-City Red immediately following their first game on Thursday. Their final pool play game will be against Foley on Friday, July 28th, at 10:30 am. All pool play games will be on Mayo Field in Rochester. You can catch all the pool play games on NorthfieldLive.com. Stay up to date with all Northfield activities by heading over to NorthfieldLive.com and by following us on social media @NorthfiedLive.