It took 5 hours, 36 minutes and 21 innings to decide a Minnesota town ball playoff game Sunday night. It featured a walk-off hit by a college baseball coach and an epic duel between starting pitchers who are the sons of former Major League Baseball players.
In the end, it was Bird Island winning 3-2 over Loretto at Memorial Park in Dundas, breaking the record for the longest playoff game in the 99-year tournament's history. The previous record was 20 innings, having happened three times in Minnesota Baseball Association history:
- 2017: Brooklyn Park beat Elko, 4-3
- 1976: Cyrus beat Fairfax, 2-1
- 1971: Hector beat Stark, 2-1
Josh Kingery, the 19-year-old from Atwater who is the son of former MLB player Mike Kingery, started for Bird Island as one of the team's draftees. He pitched 12 innings, striking out 13 and allowing two runs on six hits and three walks.
Of the 169 pitches he threw, one was a mistake and former Minnesota Twins third baseman Corey Koskie made him pay with a two-run homer in the seventh inning.
Koskie's son, Caleb Koskie, started on the mound for Loretto. He gave up two runs in 7.2 innings before giving way to the bullpen, including Buffalo Bullfrogs draftee Jon Euerle, who gave up an unearned run on a flare to center field in the bottom of the 21st inning.
The winning hit was by Tyler Hebrink, who is the head baseball coach at Ridgewater College in Willmar.
"Tonight, I was the losing pitcher of record, ending the season of a team not my own. With that said, at age 36, that's the greatest baseball I've ever been a part of and one I will never forget. It epitomizes why we all still play the game," tweeted Euerle, who struck out 12 in eight innings of relief.
According to the Minnesota Baseball Association, there were 662 pitches thrown, 48 strikeouts, 20 hits, 15 walks and nine errors in the game.
Bird Island advances to the round of 16 and will play the Red Wing Aces at 11 a.m. Saturday in Faribault. The Class C semifinals are Sept. 4 and the championship game is Sept. 5.