MENNO, S.D. — Well it looks like the Crofton Bluejays are playing for keeps.
Crofton continued its strong run of play down the latter stages of the current amateur baseball season with a performance to remember at the South Dakota Amateur Baseball Association District playoffs.
Led by manager Ben Hegge, the Bluejays have advanced to the state playoffs beginning Wednesday in Mitchell, S.D. and with an extra cherry on top: As the District 6B champs.
Crofton takes on Salem at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell to seek its second SDABA title to join its 2011 crown in the trophy cabinet.
“We started the year 2-4 and got off to a slow start,” Hegge said. “We turned things around in the second half and this district title was a sign of how well we can play. There is still lots of work to do and the state tournament is what you remember 10 years from now not a district title.
“We have played Salem in year’s past and they are tough. You have to be sharp this time of year and we are playing great baseball. We need to keep the train rolling. We have had plenty of success in years past, but the years past don’t mean anything.”
The Bluejays (13-8) made it count when it mattered most, scoring three times in the bottom of the fourth inning to rally from a 2-1 deficit to take the lead and cruise to a 6-2 win over Wynot Sunday afternoon in Menno.
The Bluejays took advantage of two early baserunners in the key frame and used four hits to bring home the winning runs and the Crofton pitching battened down the hatches from there.
“We competed the whole game and every pitch,” Hegge said. “Wynot is very tough and make you earn everything. We were solid in all facets of the game and got a big performance out of the bullpen from James Kaiser.”
Carter Roach had two doubles, Colton Schieffer added two hits including a triple and Andrew Schieffer came off the bench to score some key runs during the pivotal scoring innings.
The No. 3 seeded Bluejays advanced to the final with a 10-5 rout of the No. 2 seeded hosts on July 28.
“That was a big one since it started at 11 p.m. due to a rain delay and got over at 2 a.m.,” Hegge said. “Capp Bengston had an amazing start on the mound and the bats came alive.”
Bengston got the win and Nick Hegge pitched in relief. Seth Wiebelhaus had a team-high four hits to propel Crofton to the final.
The SDABA playoffs can be streamed at http://liveticket.tv/.