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Errors doom Mudcats against Crofton

Parkston Mudcats first baseman Spencer Freudenthal catches a fly ball in the first inning in a quarterfinal game against Crofton (Neb.) on Friday during the South Dakota Class B state amateur baseball tournament at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. (Brooke Cersosimo/Republic)

Crofton (Neb.) has wanted revenge on the Parkston Mudcats since the last time the teams met at Cadwell Park in 2012.

That year in the Class B state amateur championship game, the Mudcats came from behind to beat the Bluejays in extra innings to claim the title.

"We were an out away from winning the state championship and these guys had that bad taste in their mouth," said Crofton manager Carl Schieffer, whose team plays at 7:30 p.m. today for a spot in Sunday's Class B title contest. "That gave us the drive."

The Bluejays used that determination as Friday's contest was a different story.

In an error-filled quarterfinal, Crofton got out to an early lead and held off Parkston for a 8-2 victory.

The Mudcats, who gave up seven unearned runs, committed seven errors in the game and mustered up five hits off Bluejays starter Scott Donner. Crofton also recorded its fair share of errors, committing five.

"It was an ugly game for us," said Parkston manager Dave Roth, whose team ends its season 29-5. "It's the worst game we've played defensively all year by far."

The defensive struggle came from the get-go as a three-error inning by Parkston contributed to four runs from Crofton in the second.

In the second inning after recorded two outs, Crofton (24-4) started to get the better of Parkston starter Tiesler and the Mudcat defense. Pitcher Brady Nolz relieved Tiesler after he walked home a run in the second. Nolz got out of the inning as the next batter, Macon Oplinger flied out to Spencer Freudenthal.

"We wanted to force them to make the plays," Schieffer said. "As long as you put the ball into play, things can happen, and that worked in our favor tonight. You can't always count on errors to win you games, but as long as you keep hitting the ball hard, things usually fall our way."

The Mudcats got a spark in the bottom of the second from shortstop Mike Lukkason, who had a leadoff single and eventually scored after a sacrifice bunt and a pair of Crofton errors. Parkston chipped away at the Bluejay lead in the fourth, again, with the help of an error by Crofton.

The Bluejays scored a run in each of the next four frames, with Parkston's defense giving up a leadoff error in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

"I don't think we've had seven errors in the first two games," Parkston outfielder Matt Malloy said. "We needed to play solid baseball and that didn't happen."

The Mudcats threatened in the eighth when they had bases loaded, but Donner fought to get out of the inning as Lukkason hit a grounder back to him.

Donner was the winning pitcher, giving up two runs on five hits while striking out five. Tiesler suffered the loss for Parkston, giving up four unearned runs on five hits and walking one in 1 2/3 innings. Nolz gave up four runs, one earned, on six hits while striking out six in 7 1/3 innings.

Parkston had five singles in the game with Jeff Harris, Jeff Fish, Lukkason, Tom Murtha and Malloy each hitting one. Lukkason also had an RBI in the fourth inning.

Crofton's Donner was 2-for-5 with two RBIs and a double, Kyle Mueller was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Alex Mueller was 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.