Chiefs fall to Owatonna in nail-biter

It was a game of missed opportunities, but the Owatonna amateur baseball team missed one less than Winona in a 3-2 Twins Rivers League victory at Gabrych Park on Sunday.

Winona (4-2) stranded 11 runners in the game, seven of which were in scoring position, while Owatonna (5-2) loaded the bases in the eighth inning but came away with just one run, albeit the difference-making tally.

After John DeMarais blasted his third home of the season to put the Chiefs in front 2-1 to lead-off the bottom of the seventh, Benji Hager immediately answered with a lead-off shot to begin the Aces’ eighth off of Winona reliever Jesse Van Brunt.

It was the beginning of a strange half-inning.

After Hager’s homer, Van Brunt allowed three consecutive singles to Tyler Smith, Owen Carlson and Riley Thompson to load the bases with nobody out. What appeared to have all the ingredients of a game-clinching rally for Owatonna resulted in just a single run when courtesy-runner Mike Zappa tried to leap over Chiefs shortstop Jay Stensgard as he charged Brian Simon’s ground ball to short. Stensgard was able to tag Zappa then toss the ball to Zach Benson at second for an odd double play. Though Zappa and Stensgard were a bit banged up, each were fine though Smith crossed the plate with what proved the game-winning run.

Winona had its chances in the eighth, but following back-to-back singles from Bryan Rohde and Travis Hengel to start the inning, the Chiefs were retired in order.

Lee Trocinski started the game for the Chiefs on the mound and logged five innings of six-hit ball, walked and hit one while striking out four. Van Brunt then handled the final four frames to take the loss, his first of the season. The right-hander surrendered two runs on five hits and struck out four.

Hunter Kruse threw out a would-be tying run at the plate for the Chiefs in the fourth and drew three walks on the day.

For a DVD copy of the game, simply visit hbci.com/store for details.

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