Northfield Captures First State Tournament Birth Since 2016

AJ Reisetter

For the first time since 2016, the Northfield Raiders baseball team punched their ticket to the State Tournament after winning the Section 1AAA Tournament on Thursday.

Going into Thursday’s game, Northfield was one win away from advancing to the championship game. However, the only obstacle was the top-seeded Stewartville Tigers, whom the Raiders had beaten to advance to the section championship game. The Tigers needed to win to force a second game and keep their season alive.

Seth Thompson swings and misses at a pitch from Stewartville pitcher Alejandro Tapia. Photo: Jim Wellbrock

Game One

The Raiders had three errors early in game one that dug them into a hole.

In the first inning, the Tigers had two runners in scoring position with two outs, and the Raiders’ shortstop Jake Geiger fielded a ground ball. His throw to first snuck by Ryan Cahoon’s glove, allowed the Tigers to plate two runs. Luke Hebl, next at-bat, doubled to center to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.

It was a pitcher dual after that between Tegan Mellgren and Stewartville pitcher Alejandro Tapia until the fifth when the Tigers strung together two singles, a balk, and a double to take a 6-0 lead and shut out the Raiders to force a game two.

Game Two

Game two was another pitcher dual. Seth Thompson got the nod and was lights out, going 6.2 innings, allowing just three hits and striking out 11. Jayce Klug went all seven for Stewartville, allowing seven hits and striking out seven.

Seth Thompson finished the game with 11 strikeouts to help send the Raiders to their first State Tournament since 2016

The Raiders broke the scoreless tie in the fifth after Kyan Rauk singled to the left, and Logan Prescott advanced to second on a sacrifice groundout from Ryan Cahoon. During the next at-bat, Prescott advanced to third on a wild pitch, and JT Graupmann flipped a fly ball to right the hooked foul but was caught, which allowed Prescott to tag up and give Northfield the lead, 1-0.

Northfield added insurance on an Austin Koep solo home run to left field in the sixth.

Austin Koep blasts a home run in the sixth for an insurance run to help the Raiders to their first State Tournament since 2016
Raiders crowd home plate after Austin Koep’s solo home run in the sixth inning. Photo: Jim Wellbrock

Thompson followed up with a double to right, and his courtesy runner, Dylan Morrow, scored on a Rauk single to left to extend the lead to 3-0.

Stewartville did not go away quietly in the bottom of the seventh. With two runners in scoring position and only one out, the Tigers’ Hebl roped a single to left to cut the Raiders’ lead to one.

Thompson battled back to record his 11th strikeout before Graupmann came in to relieve him due to Thompson reaching his pitch count. Graupmann finished the job, striking out Jacob Anderson to send the Raiders to the State Tournament.

JT Graupman strikes out Jordan Anderson for the final out to advance to the State Tournament

What’s Next?

Northfield will face three-seed Mahtomedi in the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at Chaska Athletic Park.

Photos: Jim Wellbrock