The Blue Earth Pirates needed to come from behind and hold off a late rally to defeat Hampton last Sunday, 5-3, to earn the No. 1 seed in the State Tournament.
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Pirates loaded the bases for player/manager Lee Hodges. He cleared the bases with a three-run double over the center fielder.
Trent Sonnicksen added an insurance run for the Pirates by lacing a single up the middle, which scored Hodges and gave the Pirates a 5-3 lead heading to the last frame.
However, Hampton had one last rally in them. After a leadoff single and a walk, a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third with one out.
"We were nervous, but we were very fortunate with the next play," Hodges explained. "They hit a sharp hit liner, which hit the runner trying to advance to third base. He was out and the play was dead, so the runner on third base had to go back."
Cody Sukalski forced a pop up to first to end the game.
Sukalski pitched all nine innings for Blue Earth. He gave up three runs and had one strikeout.
"Cody usually comes in for relief," Hodges says. "But he kept the runs low, even though he gave up 15 hits. It doesn't matter because he was able to hold the runners."
Hodges led the Pirates by going 3 for 4 with three RBI.
Sonnicksen was 2 for 2 with an RBI and Aaron Wendt was 1 for 4 and also chipped in an RBI.
"We played solid defense this past weekend," Hodges says. "If we play our game, I expect that we can show well in the State Tournament. It helps to have a first round bye."
The Pirates will play the winner of the Fort Ripley and Spring Hill game in Belle Plaine on Aug. 22.
This will be the Pirates 12th consecutive trip to the State Tournament.
With their week off, the Pirates scheduled a scrimmage with Jackson, who also won their Region Tournament. The exhibition game will be held on Monday, Aug. 18, at 7:30 p.m. in Blue Earth.
Pirates 6, Hampton 1
The Blue Earth Pirates used a three-run homerun by Cody Sukalski to pull away from Hampton, 6-1, on their way to a coveted No. 1 seed for the State Tournament last Saturday.
Aaron Wendt pitched all nine innings, giving up only one earned run and contributing five strikeouts.
The Pirates used a Wendt double and a single from player/manager Lee Hodges to jump out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning.
In the third inning, T.J. Schmidtke hit a two out triple and was brought home on a Brandyn Olsen single.
With two outs in the fourth inning, Sukalski broke the game wide open with his three-run homer.
Schmidtke led the Pirates by going 3 for 4. Sukalski was 2 for 4 with four RBI and Hodges was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Hampton then won their next game and played themselves back into the winning bracket. They would have to beat the Pirates twice to win the Regional Tournament.