MARION, Iowa – Four deserving champions were crowned at the Perfect Game Midwest Labor Day Classic Sunday night and Monday afternoon, including two from the Wisconsin-based Hitters Baseball program. All four championship games were played in picture-postcard late-summer weather conditions amongst the cornfields at the Prospect Meadows Sports Complex.
All-P2P Millers Upperclass title tilt sees Kirkwold clip Landgrebe
There may have never been a more friendly postgame receiving line between two teams in the history of postgame receiving lines, but that can happen when opponents come from not just the same neighborhood but from the same household.
Two squads from the Chanhassen, Minn.-based P2P Millers organization coached by Kevin Kirkwold and Brad Landgrebe tangled in the championship game of the Upperclass MW LDC Monday, with Millers Kirkwold prevailing over Millers Landgrebe 3-0, in a crisp and finely played game.
Incredibly, the championship matchup between Millers Kirkwold and Millers Landgrebe was nothing new. It’s happened three times already this fall, although the first two meetings were at local tournaments back home in Minnesota so not on quite as big of a stage as this one.
“Our first two events ended up with us magically on the opposite sides of the bracket and both in the championship game,” Kirkwold told PG postgame. “So this is a little bit familiar but doing it at a Perfect Game event is a little more special with a little bit more adrenaline cooking.” Millers Kirkwold now holds a 2-1 advantage in the head-to-heads with. Millers Landgrebe.
The No. 3-seeded Millers Kirkwolds (5-0-0) won this game over the No. 5 Millers Landgrebes (4-1-0) in almost workmanlike fashion, tallying single runs in each of the second, fourth and fifth innings.
A hit batter and a walk put Max Hudlow in position to come through with a two-out RBI single in the second to give Kirkwold an early 1-0 lead. Chayton Fischer then drove the first pitch he saw for a solo home run to lead off the fourth and the scoring was complete when Hudlow led-off the fifth with a walk, made his way to third and eventually scored on a passed ball.
“My mindset [coming in] is to just have fun,” Fischer said. “Just have fun with it and have a good time on the baseball field; that’s what it’s all about.”
The biggest constant throughout the championship game was the performance of starting pitcher Aiden Hansen, a 2022 right-hander. Facing hitters he sees on a regular basis – meaning he knows them but they know him, as well – Harris threw a complete-game, four-hit shutout, striking out six and walking three.
“I just wanted to attack the guys that I know,” Hansen said postgame. “I know that all of these guys can hit; they’re good players. I wanted to get ahead with a first-pitch strike and see what my defense could do.”
Landgrebe leadoff hitter Noah Dagostino singled twice and was the only batter on either team to collect multiple hits; Millers Kirkwold totaled four hits in the game, Millers Landgrebe three. It was just that the Kirkwold boys did more with theirs than the Landgrebe boys could do against Hansen.
“The guys have been playing loose and together all weekend,” Kirkwold said. “I just kind of let them go for this game and they figured out where the opening were. Then we get the long-ball and then we were able to kind of cruise and go get our outs. When you have a guy going on the mound like Aiden was today, it was a fun, easy game to coach.”
Speaking of Hansen, he was named the MV-Pitcher based solely on his championship game outing, and quite frankly that was more than enough.
“It’s been awesome [with] the energy,” Hansen said of the time spent at Prospect Meadows. “The teams we played are very competitive so it’s a lot of fun playing in these tournaments. I love it here – it’s a very nice complex – and I just love it.”
Fischer, an unranked 2022 catcher/first baseman, was chosen as the MV-Player after a tournament in which he hit 7-for-16 (.438) with two singles, two doubles, a triple and two home runs to his credit; he finished with eight RBI and six runs scored.
“The whole experience is a lot of fun,” Fischer said. “With my team, it’s always a blast to come down here. I just love the game of baseball so I come down here having a good mind-set with the team. It’s basically a trip to the cabin but it’s a trip with my brothers, too.”
So, yes, the Upperclass MW LDC championship game pitted neighbor against neighbor, classmate against classmate, friend against friend and no one would have had it any other way.
“These guys practice against one another both in the facility and on the field throughout the week,” Kirkwold said. “There’s a lot of close friendships and a lot of split high schools with guys from the same high school where some of them are my team and some of them are on Brad’s [Landgrebe] team...both teams help each other get better.”
And they’ll be back in Eastern Iowa in two weeks to take part in the PG WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship, a qualifying event for October’s blockbuster PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. It’s advisable to keep an eye on these guys from Minnesota.
“It’s fun hanging out with the boys,” Fischer said. “We’ll come back stronger than ever for the Kernels championship and we’ll have fun.”
Hitters 2023’s leave no doubt on way to Underclass title
The Hitters 2023’s were only at the Underclass MW LDC Saturday and Sunday but managed to squeeze-in five games of total dominance, including a one-sided 9-0, five-inning win over the Stiks 17u Black in Sunday night’s championship game.
The Hitters program is now three-for-three in claiming championships at the Underclass event having also won titles in 2019 and ’20.
The No. 2-seeded 2023’s (5-0-0) totaled seven hits in the championship game victory over the No. 4 Stiks 17u Black (3-1-1). They pushed across a single run in the bottom of the first, added three more in the third and then delivered the final blow with a five-run fourth.
Seven batters collected one hit apiece, led by Aiden Schenk with a double, three RBI and a run scored, and Thomas Curry, who doubled, drove in a pair and scored two others. Jack Counsell and JT Kelenic both singled and drove in a run; Alex Alicia and Michael Clarkson both singled and scored a run. Gianni Royer didn’t have a hit but managed to reach base twice and scored both times.
2023 right-hander Zachary Olson and ’23 lefty Aiden Schenk combined on a five-inning one-hitter, striking out seven and walking four and leaving little, if anything, to chance in this one
The Hitters’ Jack Counsell, a 2023 middle-infielder and the son of Brewers manager Craig Counsell, finished the tournament 7-for-12 (.583) with five singles, a double, a triple and five walks, good for an eye-popping .706 OBP. He drove in four runs, scored eight others and stole a pair of bases, and was named the MV-Player.
Hitters ’23 right-hander Evan Shapiro threw a six-inning, nine-strikeout one-hit shutout in the team’s first-round playoff win and was named the MV-Pitcher.
It’s difficult to imagine a team turning in a more dominant performance than what the Hitters 2023’s turned in over the weekend. They outscored their two pool-play opponents by a combined 19-1 and then blitzed three playoff foes by a combined 25-1, with all three of those games played on Sunday. That’s a final tally of 44-2.
Remington tops depleted Murphy in all-Iowa Select Sophomore finale
When Iowa Select 2024 Murphy tallied a run in the bottom of the third inning to take a 1-0 lead over family member Iowa Select 2024 Remington in the championship game of the Sophomore MW LDC, Sean Murphy’s squad hit a milestone of sorts.
At that point in time, the Select 2024 Murphys had outscored the five opponents they had played over the weekend by a combined 32-0, a total that included an 8-0 victory in the semifinal-round about an hour earlier.
Out on the field with just eight players after as many five left the complex due to other obligations, it was starting to look like Select 2024 Murphy might actually pull-off a most improbable feat. Could they beat a very formidable opponent for a PG championship with one figurative arm tied behind their back?
Well, no. The No. 3-seeded Select 2024 Remingtons (5-0-0) went off for six runs in the top of the fifth and added three more in the sixth, and buried the No. 1 Select 2024 Murphys (4-1-0) by a 9-1 count to claim the Sophomore title.
After Iowa Select 2024 Murphy took that 1-0 lead in the third when Carter Smalley received a two-out walk, Trever Baumler delivered a two-out double and Smalley scored on a wild pitch, it was all Remington the rest of the way.
The six-run fifth was nothing short of a blur of firepower that started innocently enough with Jonah Markham receiving a one-out walk and Caleb Even and Preston Lang following with one-out singles to load the bases.
Then, boom!, Myles Davis smacked a two-run double followed by Brock Harland who matched Davis with a two-run double of this own. A walk later, Gage Bishop doubled to drive in another run and Jaxon Kramer delivered an RBI single to give Select Remington a 6-1 lead. The big blow of the three-run sixth was a two-run double off the bat of Ryker Remington.
Select 2024 Remington pitchers Kramer, Jackson Mishler and Reid Burkle combined on a six-inning, two-strikeout five-hitter, walking five. Select 2024 Murphy’s Andrew Swanda singled and doubled to account for two of the Murphys five hits; Smalley, Murphy’s starting pitcher, threw four innings of three-hit, shutout ball.
Select 2024 Remington’s Myles Davis was a tough out all week, finishing 9-for-16 (.563) with four singles, four doubles, a triple and four walks, good for a .667 OBP. He also drove in eight runs, scored seven others and stole four bases and was named the MV-Player.
Brady Lash, pitching for non-playoff qualifier P2P Millers Hoffman, was named the MV-Pitcher after allowing only two hits over six shutout innings and striking out eight without a walk.
Hitters 2025’s hammer down late to claim Freshman crown
During the first couple of somewhat hum-drum innings of the Freshman MW LDC championship game, fans may have started to wonder if the Hitters 2025’s were going to claim the title over the GRB Rays Illinois in a manner seldom seen in a title tilt.
The 2025’s had managed to push across one unearned run in the top of the first inning without a base hit, scoring instead on the strength of a leadoff walk to Ethan Moore, a fielding error and two passed balls.
After four complete, that’s where things stood. The Hitter’s 2025’s held a 1-0 lead at that point and had collected just one hit, a fourth inning, two-out single off the bat of Cole Fox. And then, in what seemed like no time at all, the strangeness reverted back to normalcy.
Ryne Dzierzynski lined a bases loaded, two-out two-run single in the top of the fifth, Joseph Suokko delivered a one-out RBI single in the sixth and Carter Kutz smacked a one-out, three-run home run in the seventh to lead the Hitters 2025’s to a 7-0 win over the GRB Rays Illinois in the championship game of the Freshman MW LDC.
The No. 5-seeded Hitters 2025’s wrapped-up their run to the championship with a 5-0-0 mark; the No. 3 GRB Rays finished 4-1-0.
The Hitters 2023’s totaled seven hits in the victory but were helped-out considerably by the nine walks issued by Rays Illinois pitchers; Dzierzynski singled twice, the only Hitters batter with multiple hits.
Hitters 2025 right-handers Jaxon Clayton and Kutz combined on the seven-inning, four-hit, nine-strikeout shutout; Clayton worked the first five frames, allowing three hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
GRB leadoff hitter Aidyn Mueller doubled and singled to account for two of the Rays Illinois’ four hits. 2025 left-hander Karson Stiefer was pretty good in his start for the Rays, allowing three unearned runs on one hit in 4 1/3 innings of work; he struck-out two and walked five.
Kutz, a ’25 catcher/third baseman, was good all weekend, going 6-for-16 (.375) with two home runs and a double to go with his three singles and five walks (.524 OBP). He also finished with eight RBI and five runs scored and was named the MV Player.
Hitters 2025 right-hander/shortstop Jack Poellot made two appearances on the mound and totaled seven innings of work without allowing a run on two hits while striking out 12 and walking two; he was named the MV-Pitcher.