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Crofton Blue Jays beat Corsica/Stickney Horned Frogs 3-2

Corsica/Stickney shortstop Luke Bamberg throws a ball to first base in the second inning against Crofton (Neb.) in a first-round game at the Class B state amateur baseball tournament Saturday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

Crofton rode the arm of Scott Donner and held on to edge Corsica/Stickney 3-2 in the first round of the South Dakota Class B state amateur baseball tournament Saturday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.

The bottom of the ninth inning saw the Bluejays leading 3-1. After two outs Crofton closer Rand Thygeson walked Luke Bamberg. First baseman Aaron Groeneweg hit a shot to the deepest part of cavernous Cadwell Park for a triple, scoring Bamberg and pulling the Horned Frogs to within one run.

Thygeson was able to recover and force a groundout from Kris Menning to end the contest.

Crofton advances to the second round as they will take on Lake Norden at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Cadwell Park. Corsica/Stickney is eliminated.

The story of the game was the pitching of Donner. After giving up a hit to Alex Kocer to open the game, Bonner retired the next 16 batters.

“That’s what we expect from him,” Crofton manager Carl Schieffer said of his pitcher. “We shouldn’t expect it, but he does it time in and time out for us. He’s good about settling in and he doesn’t get rattled. He gets stronger when guys get on base.”

The Bluejays scored in the first inning on a double from Tyler Zimmerman and he scored on a single from Nick Hegge. Crofton added a run in the fourth inning and scored the important third run in the seventh.

C/S finally got to Bonner in the eighth inning. Menning doubled to open the inning and advanced to third base on a ground out. After a strikeout, Kiefer Johnson hit an RBI single, setting up the exciting ninth inning.

Horned Frog manager Bob Bamberg agreed that Donner pitched a good game.

“He (Donner) was mostly straight at first but he kept changing speeds and keeping us off balanced,” Bamberg explained. “Toward the end we finally started to get the bat on the ball, but we just didn’t get going quickly enough.”