Nolz leads Parkston Mudcats to state championshipBrady Nolz would have pitched all night.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
Brady Nolz would have pitched all night.
The right-hander for the Parkston Mudcats was the team’s workhorse all tournament, throwing in every game and recording out after out.
In Sunday’s Class B state amateur championship against Crofton, Neb., Nolz held the defending state champion in check and allowed his team to come from behind for a 4-3 extra-innings, walk-off win at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.
“I went in there and rode adrenaline the whole way out,” said Nolz, the tournament’s MVP who threw 169 pitches in the Mudcats’ 6-1 semifinal win over Alexandria Saturday. “I just figured this game would end sometime.”
The game-winning run, in the bottom of the 13th, came from none other than Nolz, getting pushed across on a base hit to left from Jeff Harris.
Nolz singled to right to open the final frame. He moved to second after Jeff Heisinger walked, and two batters later Harris’ slap single to left — which was nearly caught — won the game when Nolz scored from second base.
After crossing home plate, Mudcat players dog piled on Nolz, who won four tournament games and also picked up a save in five victories. In a span of eight days, he threw 504 pitches in 33 2/3 innings, allowing only three earned runs.
“Brady came in after throwing so many pitches in so many games,” Harris said. “He’s very deserving of the MVP.
“He’s always had the rubber arm, but this was to a whole new level.”
Nolz also came through at the plate when the Mudcats were in desperation mode. In the bottom of the ninth, he singled when Parkston trailed 3-2 and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Spencer Freudenthal had a one-out single to move Nolz to third, Harris had a game-tying single to send the game to extras.
Anthony Williams got the start for the Mudcats, tossing five innings and allowing nine hits and three earned runs. Crofton scored one in the second and added two in the top of the fifth for a 3-1 lead.
Dylan Dwyer had an RBI single in the bottom of the fourth to score Matt Malloy for Parkston’s first run. In the bottom of the fifth, Freudenthal had a leadoff infield single, eventually scoring on a passed ball to pull Parkston within 3-2.
Nolz entered the game in the top of the six, despite pitching on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. He struck out the first four hitters he faced and didn’t allow a runner to reach until the top of the 10th.
“I told Dave to get Brady out on the mound, because this is his tournament,” said the Mudcats’ Roger Albrecht, who’s been playing amateur baseball for 20 years, winning his first title Sunday. “I don’t know if any of us will ever live to see something like that again.”
Parkston had a great opportunity to win the game in the 10th, when Malloy led off with an infield single and reached third on a throwing error. Crofton intentionally walked the bases loaded, and relief pitcher Rand Thygeson struck out Nolz on a 3-2 pitch that appeared to be low.
“I disagreed, but oh well,” Nolz said. “We still won.”
Heisinger grounded into an inning-ending double play in the next at-bat, but Crofton wasn’t able to use momentum to score a run.
“This was an unbelievable game,” said Crofton’s Scot Donner, who won the tournament’s batting champion award with a .538 clip with two first-round home runs. “There were so many opportunities for both teams to win, so much drama, back and forth, plays at the plate. … Just so many pressure moments that made the game better and better.”
Thygeson took the loss, but pitched well in relief of starter Bill Guenther. Thygeson tossed 8 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs and 11 hits.
Parkston finished with 15 hits to Crofton’s 13. Jeff Harris had four hits and two RBIs, Trevor Freudenthal had four hits, Spencer Freudenthal had three hits and Nolz had two.
Donner had three hits with an RBI for Crofton, which has won 13 of its last 15 state tournament games, claiming the championship last year over Tabor and taking runner-up in 2010 to Dimock/Emery.
After the game, Nolz — who allowed four hits and struck out 10 Crofton batters — turned to the Parkston fans with a large smile on his face and put a No. 1 up in the air.
“When I woke up this morning, there was a zero percent chance I was pitching,” Nolz said. “Then I just took some ibuprofen and told (manager Dave Roth), ‘If you need me, I’d be ready.’ ”
He absolutely was.