Aaron Pfaff wasn't sure he'd play another game with the Chanhassen Red Birds.
A question of Pfaff's eligibility, a matter heard by the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Board in July, ultimately all was resolved, no wrongdoing was found.
On the sidelines, removed from the roster, the state board returned Pfaff to Chanhassen for post-season play.
On Aug. 16, the first round of the Class B State Tournament, Pfaff was front and center again.
This time as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth inning with one out, the bases loaded. Pfaff's single to center field scored Michael Jurgella, a walk-off 1-0 win over Champlin at Dassel's Saints Field.
"I didn't think they'd let me back on. They being the board. I was just hoping we wouldn't be disqualified. It was nothing I did, but I still would have felt bad. These guys have been great to play with and I'm glad to have the opportunity," Pfaff said. "When I was told I could play again, it was a no-brainer to be back with these guys."
Jurgella, who earlier in the day got engaged, led off the ninth inning with a walk, gaining third base on a Nick Smith sharp single to center field with a bobble. After Garrett Fischer was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Pfaff stepped into the hero role.
Pinch-hitting for Zach Hoffmann, hurt in an eighth inning collision at first base, Pfaff drew a 2-0 count.
"I made a mistake swinging on 2-0. I didn't have the right mindset. Should have been looking for one spot. I got it back to 3-1 and I wasn't swinging there. I sat fastball. I figured he couldn't risk it. He couldn't walk me. I was just trying to put the ball in play. If the ball got past the infield we had a good chance," Pfaff said.
Pfaff's 3-2 swing dropped in front of a diving center fielder, Jurgella crossing home plate, Pfaff mobbed at first base.
"This was a good team win. That first game is always tough, especially with it being single elimination. It's about surviving. Hopefully now that we got that out of the way, we can relax, play the way we know we can," Pfaff said.
Chanhassen survives to play into the second weekend, the final eight teams in double elimination play. The Red Birds play Northfield at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23 back in Dassel. The Knights beat Beaudreau's Saints 5-2.
Seven first-round Class B games are set to be played Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 17-18 in Dassel.
A pitcher's duel into the ninth inning, John Straka kept hanging zeroes for Chanhassen on defense. He allowed just four runners over a complete game, a single and double back-to-back with two outs in the fourth inning the only blemishes.
Straka set down 15 of 16 batters between the fourth and ninth innings, a throwing error the only LoGator to reach base in the stretch.
On the other side, Sam Riola, a former Bethel University pitcher, who will play at Iowa Western Community College in 2020, was just as dominant for Champlin.
Riola didn't allow a base runner until Jurgella's fourth-inning single. Strikeouts ended Chanhassen threats in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. Riola finished with 11 strikeouts for the game, allowing six singles.