The Sleepy Eye Indians have advanced to play in the state tournament after going 4-2 in the Region 2C playoffs.
On Aug. 9, the Indians traveled to Leavenworth and clinched a state tournament appearance after defeating the Orioles 10-4. Eight of those 10 runs were scored in a huge fourth inning for Sleepy Eye.
Sean Mathiowetz and Andrew Woitas got things going with base hits, and Mathiowetz was able to score off of a wild pitch. Two more Indians got on base, after Jake Bohnen was walked and Alan Woitas was hit by a pitch. Scott Salfer then hit a big double that brought in two more runs for Sleepy Eye. But the Indians weren’t done there. Salfer scored off of a sacrifice hit, while Joey Walter and Mathiowetz got more base hits. Andrew Woitas then hit a double which brought in two more runs and Mathiowetz was able to score by another wild pitch thrown by Leavenworth.
Although the Orioles were able to score three runs in the late innings, the 8-0 lead set by the Indians in the fourth was too much to handle.
Andrew Woitas pitched seven innings and threw three walks and five strikeouts. He also went 3-for-5 at bat with two RBI. Other lead hitters included Salfer, who went 3-for-4 with three RBI and Nolan Helget who went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
On Aug. 10, Sleepy Eye hosted Stark for another important game for both teams. The Indians wanted the win because they would have faced the tough team of New Ulm Brewers the next day if they lost, while the Longhorns needed a win for a chance to appear at the state tournament.
Stark came out strong after they scored a run in the first and another in the fourth, but Sleepy Eye responded in the fourth after hits by Bohnen, Salfer and Alan Woitas loaded the bases. One run was scored from a sacrifice hit, and another was scored from a throwing error to third by Stark, which tied the game. Andrew Bach then had a crucial base hit which advanced one more runner.
The Indians’ defense was able to hold off Stark for five straight innings, while Sleepy Eye scored four more runs in the eighth to seal the deal, winning 8-2.
Alan Woitas led on the mound and threw three strikeouts over eight innings. Walter and Mathiowetz led at bat, each going 2-for-5 with two RBI.
The Indians traveled to Lamberton the next day for a final playoff game to determine who would be the No. 1 seed for the state tournament.
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The Longsox got an early 3-0 lead in the first inning and added to the lead in the fourth with two more. Sleepy Eye was able to rally back in the sixth and eighth innings, but Lamberton kept its lead after it scored single runs in the seventh and eighth and won 7-5.
St. James draftee Kyle Pinke pitched for seven innings and allowed six runs but threw four strikeouts to lead the Indians.
After the loss to Lamberton, the No. 2 seed Indians will face the Green Isle Irish in Maple Lake on Aug. 17 for their first game of the Class C Minnesota Baseball Association State Tournament.
Sleepy Eye Coach Bruce Woitas said he is looking forward to the state tournament.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Woitas said. “We were there in 2011 with a young group and kind of got bumped out last year so it’s nice to be playing good baseball at the right time this year and getting another shot to go back up there.”