The back-and-forth nature of the game was evident from the get-go as the Vikings plated three runs in the top of the first inning for a quick 3-0 lead, but the Rebels fired back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first, one in the second and three in the third for a 6-3 lead. Hayfield, though, had an answer in the top of the fourth with two runs coming across to cut Southland’s lead to 6-5, but the Rebels tallied a single run in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 7-5 heading into the dramatic seventh inning.
In the top of the seventh, Hayfield parlayed an RBI double, an RBI triple and a wild pitch to take an 8-7 lead, but Southland came right back and tied the game at eight apiece on a Vikings error, and Kirtz’s RBI single then brought across the winning run to set off a wild celebration for the Rebels and their fans.
Kirtz wound up going 3 for 5 to lead Southland offensively with two RBI’s, Jack Bruggeman wound up going 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored, Jonas Wiste was 1 for 3 with a double and two RBI’s, Gavin Nelson went 1 for 4 with a double and two runs scored, Tyson Stevens belted a triple in four trips to the plate and scored a run, Easton Meyer went 1 for 2 with two runs scored, and Isaac Felten was 1 for 3 with a run scored.
Kirtz got the start on the mound for Southland and pitched the first six innings, giving up seven runs, five earned, on 11 hits, striking out three and walking two. Jonas Wiste then came in to pitch the seventh inning and was credited with the win, giving up one run, which was earned, on one hit, striking out two and walking none.
With the win, their seventh in a row, Southland is now 16-2 on the season, and the Rebels will now play Southeast Conference foe Lyle/Pacelli in the winners’ bracket final at Dick Seltz Field on Saturday, with first pitch at noon. The winner of the game will advance to the championship final Tuesday, while the loser will have to play either Hayfield or Fillmore Central/Lanesboro in the elimination bracket final to follow at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.