Mandan Heartland Investors sent two teams into the Men’s Masters National Tournaments in their hometown this season and walked away with the big prize in both the Masters 35 Competitive Division and the Masters 45.
Heartland opened pool play in the 35 by 10-running South Dakota’s Team Primed 18-8. They then survived a challenge from local rival Eco Facility Services 20-18 to enter the double elimination bracket as the top seed. Heartland easily moved in in their opener versus Mandan Veracity Motors 25-2 while Eco Facility Services scratched by Team Primed 25-23 to set up a rematch.
With the winnert taking the undefeated berth in the championship game, Heartland stifled the Eco Facility offense in a 13-3 victory. There would be no third matchup, however, as Team Primed made a strong run through the losers bracket.
South Dakota’s lone entrant ended Veracity Motors’ tournament with a 15-4 win, then scored 7 in the 7th against Eco Facility and held on on the bottom of the inning for a 17-14 win and a spot in the championship game. The well-rested Hartland Investors jumped out with 11 in the 1st but Primed would not go quietly. Ultimately, however, Heartland would prevail 18-16 to claim the title.
The tournament MVP award was presented to Heartland’s Quinten Lewton.
Like their Masters 35 counterparts, Heartland’s Masters 45 team had a convincing win to start the tournament, 19-7 over Oswald Brothers. However, the 45 team’s weekend was not without blemish. Mandan Bowers Excavating used a 9-run 7th inning to build a big enough lead to withstand a Heartland comeback and win 22-16. As the bracket began, though, Bowers would have a slip up of their own.
Heartland opened the bracket with another victory over Oswald Brothers - this one by a score of 29-19. On the other side, Team Prime’s Masters 45 squad avenged their tournament opening loss to Bowers by upsetting the defending champs 13-10 and sending them to the losers bracket. Prime then had their first shot at Heartland, but the local team served as rude hosts to their guests from the south while going off for 21 runs in the first inning. Three innings later, a 22-7 victory would put Heartland into the championship game.
To no one’s surprise, Bowers recovered and moved through the losers bracket, albeit not without needing a 20-19 walkoff win against Oswald to earn a chance for redemption against Team Primed. A 21-14 win in that rematch set up a championship showdown between the two Mandan powerhouses.
Another fast start would see Heartland establish a robust 19-5 lead after the first inning. Bowers would remarkably not only fight their way back into the game, but claimed the lead in the top of the 4th. Down by one in the bottom of the 5th, though, Heartland’s offense came back to life, wearing Bowers down and pushing across the 11th run in the inning to win 38-28 and claim the Masters 45 National Championship.
Darin Krueger was named MVP of the tournament.