The Blue Earth Pirates haven't played a full nine inning game in over a month and that trend continued last Sunday in Winnebago.
Aaron Wendt struck out eight in four innings and Brandyn Olsen drove in three runs, leading Blue Earth to a 12-1 victory over Minnesota Lake. It was the Pirates' 12th win in the last 13 games and their sixth win in a row in postseason play.
The Pirates secured the No. 1 seed in the Region 4C Tournament with the victory.
The lone Minnesota Lake run came in the first inning. Wendt gave up two hits, both in the opening frame.
The Pirates answered with four runs of their own taking an early lead.
Player/manager Lee Hodges relieved Wendt and pitched two no-hit innings and struck out three.
Blue Earth added four more runs in the second inning, taking a commanding 8-1 lead. The Pirates would tack on three more in the sixth and one more run in the seventh inning to close out the game.
Cody Sukalski (2 for 3 with two RBIs) and T.J. Schmidtke (2 for 4 with two runs scored) led the Pirates to 11 hits, compared to only two for Minnesota Lake.
Wendt was 1 for 3 at the plate with a triple and two RBIs.
John Franta was 1 for 3 and supplied a double off the centerfield fence, nearly missing a homerun.
Olsen leads the Pirates with a .515 average, followed by Sukalski (.459), Wendt (.409), Schmidtke (.409) and Franta (.404).
Wendt also leads the team with 35 RBI and total strikeouts, with 57.
The Pirates began Region play Saturday, Aug. 2, against Morristown at 1 p.m. in Waterville.
"We really have an advantage being the No. 1 seed this year," Hodges explains. "If we win two games in a row at Regions, we earn an automatic bid into the State Tournament."
According to Hodges, this 4C Region is one of the best in recent memory.
"Cannon Falls is tough, Hampton has some young guns and Waterville has been playing well recently," he says. "If we play our game, I think we have a great shot at advancing to the State Tournament."