Blue Earth knocked out 12 hits and played solid defense to walk over any road block put up by Lake Crystal.
On a sultry day with temperatures hovering in the mid 90s, the Pirates used pitchers Lee Hodges, Aaron Wendt and John Traetow to even the workload. Hodges took the bulk of the work throwing six innings. With heat from his fastball as warm as the weather, Hodges allowed only one run while scattering nine hits to seal the victory on the mound.
Wendt replaced Hodges for the seventh and eighth innings and was virtually untouchable. The hard throwing left hander struck out two, allowed no runs and no hits.
Traetow closed the game out in the ninth allowing no runs and striking out two Lake Crystal batters.
T.J. Stallman was a force to be reckoned with at the plate, driving in three of Blue Earth’s six runs. The catcher batted in individual runs in the third, fifth and seventh innings to knock in Cody Sukalski, Bobby Olson and T.J. Schmidtke.
Schmidtke also provided pop from the plate smacking two singles and a double in four at bats.
Hodges was the third Pirate to tally multiple hits, singling in the third and fifth innings for Blue Earth.
The Pirates struck first in the contest scoring two runs in the second inning. Hodges started the rally, driving the ball to left field just inches inside fair territory. Kane Malo drove in Hodges when he connected on a bloop single. Traetow followed with an eerily similar hit to drive in Malo for Blue Earth’s second run.
Lake Crystal responded in the top of the third, closing the Pirate lead to one run. The threat was ended when Hodges worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the inning by getting a fly ball to left field.
In the third, the Pirates earned the run back with a Stallman single to right driving in Sukalski.
Stallman helped tack on another run in the fifth when he crushed a double over the right fielder’s head to score Olson.
The Pirates scored their final two runs in the seventh. Schmidtke started the rally with a double and scored on an error by the shortstop off the bat of Olson. After the error, Olson eventually scored on a Justin Schaible single.
With the championship victory, the Pirates earned the number one seed in the 13-60 Blue Division for the 4C Region Playoffs. Lake Crystal will also advance, earning the second seed from the division. Other teams comprising the regional field are: Morristown, Cleveland, New Prague and Lonsdale.
If Blue Earth finishes among the top two teams in the region, they will advance to the state tournament Aug. 20 in Hutchinson.
The Pirates played at Waterville on Saturday to kick off the regional playoffs against New Prague. The game took place after the Register’s deadline. The Pirates were guaranteed a second game on Sunday whether they won or lost. Before the games this weekend, the Pirates were enjoying an overall record of 23-7. Blue Earth concluded 13-60 league play with an 11-2 record.