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Madison holds off Tabor 5-2

Tabor catcher Austin Kaul throws to second base on a stolen base attempt by Madison in the championship round of the state B Legion baseball tournament Tuesday in Tabor. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)1 / 2
Tabor's Zach Sutera dives back to third base in the seventh inning against Madison at the state B Legion tournament Tuesday in Tabor. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)2 / 2

TABOR -- The Tabor Legion baseball team came into the state B tournament with something to prove after getting an automatic qualifying spot as the host team.

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Post 183 showed it belonged with the best teams in the state over the five-day event before falling in the championship round to Madison 5-2 Tuesday at Leonard Cimpl Park in Tabor.

"You get those doubters asking 'Do they really belong here?'" Tabor coach Ken Ranek said.

After a win in the second round Saturday over Piedmont, which is largely made up of the two-time defending state champion high school team from St. Thomas More, Tabor stayed alive with a 6-5 victory over Groton Monday. Groton came into the 2014 state B tournament as a two-time defending champion. Ranek said Tabor proved its ability with wins over some of the state's top teams throughout the tournament,

"I am very proud of the way our kids battled after the opening game loss to get to this point," Ranek said after the title round loss.

Coming into the state B tournament, Ranek said he would rely on the right arm of Ross Kortan, who recently completed his freshman season with Dakota State University. Kortan was on the mound for Post 183 against Madison and threw all nine innings.

"This was something I will never forget," Korton said. "I have played with these guys since I was young and it's special to come back and play with this team. This will be one to remember."

Madison (22-5) jumped out to an early lead, with two runs in the second inning and three more in the third to take a 5-0 lead. Kortan and the Tabor (13-6) defense stifled the Madison bats the rest of the way and gave the team's batters a chance to get back into the game.

"Coach told us to settle down and play our game and just throw strikes," Kortan said about his team's effort to slow Madison down after the third inning.

Tabor broke through in the seventh inning. Post 183 loaded the bases with no outs. A sacrifice fly scored a run to get Tabor on the board. After a ground out, Tabor added on another after Madison committed its third error of the inning.

The Tabor rally was cut short when Zach Sutera got caught rounding the base too far at third and was thrown out.

Madison kept Tabor from inching closer in the ninth after the first two batters in the inning reached base for Post 183.

Tabor finished with six hits and three errors. Sawyer Fridrich had two hits, including a double, while Kortan added two singles. Cole Uecker and Austin Kaul each had a single in the loss.

Jacob Leighton, who is committed to play baseball at Southwest Minnesota State University next year, got the win on the mound for Madison with the complete game. Leighton was named the American Legion Player of the Year during a ceremony following the title game.

Madison finished with seven hits and three errors. Brayden Steffen had two hits with a double, while Leighton added a double in the win.

"We weren't maybe one of the favorites coming in here, but Madison has a reputation in sports," Madison coach Todd Williams said.

Madison will move on to play in the American Legion Division II Central Plains Regional Tournament against the representative from Minnesota. The tournament starts Aug. 7 in Milbank.

Notes: Several awards were handed out following the game between Tabor and Madison. The team sportsmanship award voted on by the event's umpire crew was given to the host team from Tabor. Madison's Jacob Giles won the Big Stick award for having the highest batting average in the tournament. The American Legion Player of the Year award went to Jacob Leighton of Madison.