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Glenn Pursley, Published June 10 2013

NYM to use a game-by-game approach during Minn. Class 1A state baseball tourney

NEW YORK MILLS, Minn. – With a third consecutive Minnesota Class 1A, Section 6 baseball title under its belt and a berth in the state tournament for the third year in a row, New York Mills is hoping that the third time’s the charm.

The Eagles lost a devastating game to St. Agnes 1-0 in their first tournament game last season, marking the second time the team has fallen in the first round. Agnes won the game with the only run scored on a balk in an inning when the Eagles gave up no hits.

Agnes would go on to the win the state title that year.

“It was a very, very unfortunate situation,” Head coach Chris Bushinger said. “During the game we had opportunities, but the call was made and you have to live with it. It was a tough loss to take.”

The Eagles (19-2) have put the heartbreaking loss behind them and are focused on a new beginning.

And with plenty of experience in three-year starters Shane Novak, Brandon Kupfer and Tyler Patron, the Eagles hope to break the first-game jitters.

In order to do so, they’ll have to get past Floodwood on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in Jordan, Minn.

“Last year we were looking too far in the future,” Eagles pitcher Patron said. “This year we are just taking it game by game. We knew we were the better team, but that day we just fell short.”

Patron pitched in the section championship game against Ortonville and carried the Eagles into the state tournament with an 8-1 win.

He held Ortonville to just one run and struck out four. He also had a two-run double to give the Eagles a lead in the first inning, which they held onto for the remaining six.

Patron, along with Kupfer and Novak, have been a force for the Eagles on both offense and defense. Kupfer plays first base and splits time on the mound with Patron.

“Tyler is a very good hitter,” Bushinger said. “He’s patient at the plate, puts the ball in play and he can hit it to all fields. Brandon Kupfer is very much the same way and both guys have done a great job at the plate this year.”

As a senior, Novak leads the team in on-base percentage, runs scored and batting average. And the biggest change he’s seen over his career has been the development of a team bond.

“I think we are closer a group of guys than we were in the past,” Novak said. “I think last year we were satisfied with just being there, but this year we are definitely after that championship. It would be one heck of way to end my senior year.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Glenn Pursley at (701) 241-5549