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Crushing loss ousts Miners at Bancroft

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Jose Guillen Jr. of the Fort Dodge Gypsum Miners slides under a tag during the regular season at Patterson Field.

BANCROFT — The Fort Dodge Gypsum Miners appeared well on their way to forcing a decisive third game with regular-season champion Bancroft in the Pioneer Collegiate Baseball League playoffs on Tuesday.

Instead, the Bandits found a way to force extra innings with the Miners after facing a late deficit. Bancroft then prevailed in the 11th, 7-4, to advance to the PCBL championship round.

The Bandits, who went 30-5 during the regular season and had a 15-game winning streak toward the end of the year, had to go the extra mile and then some to oust upstart Fort Dodge. The Miners reached the playoff round with a wild-card victory over Peak Prospects of Ames, and came up just short twice at Bancroft, dropping a 2-1 decision on Monday and falling in extras on Tuesday.

“Once again, our guys played their tails off,” Miners head coach Connor McLeod said. “I’m so proud of this group of kids. I can’t say that enough. With all the bumps we went through this season, and then the way we finished our year was incredible.

“I love this group and will never forget this inaugural season.”

Thanks in large part to a two-run home run by Jose Guillen Jr. in the bottom of the third, Fort Dodge built leads of 3-0 and 4-1 against the Bandits. A two-run rally in the top of the ninth by Bancroft forced extra innings, though, and the Bandits went on to plate three runs in the top of the 11th to pull away.

Peyton Krugler singled twice and scored twice for the Miners, while Sam Kimmorley added two hits as well. Brock Sailer started and pitched effectively until McLeod went to his bullpen in the fifth.

On Monday, Bancroft led 2-0 early after a pair of solo home runs in the first inning, and 2-1 through four before making the lead stick. Jacob Wesselmann settled down after the inauspicious start for the Miners on the hill.

“We just left too many guys in scoring position,” McLeod said. “We competed hard. We couldn’t get that one big hit but I loved the way we battled. It was a fun game to be a part of.”

The Bandits will now play for the PCBL championship on Friday.