Pirates still alive at State
The Blue Earth Pirates won one game and lost a second one, in State Baseball Tournament action last weekend.
They continued play in the loser’s bracket over Labor Day Weekend.
Blue Earth Pirates 4,
Forest Lake Brewers 0
Lee Hodges pitched a complete game shutout as the Pirates downed the Forest Lake Brewers by the final score of 4-0 in a game that took place on Aug. 28 at Arlington.
The win enabled the Pirates to advance to the double elimination part of the state tournament as one of the final eight teams left without a loss.
The Brewers had opportunities in the first two innings but could not capitalize.
With runners on first and second and only one out in the top of the first, Laker right fielder Drew Cremisino hit a grounder to Hodges who threw to shortstop Trent Sonnicksen covering at second.
Sonnicksen then caught the runner too far off the bag as he rounded third base and the resulting run down got the Pirates out of the inning without any damage.
In the second inning, the Brewers again had runners at first and second with only one out, but a fielder’s choice and a line out to first baseman Aaron Wendt kept the Brewers off the scoreboard.
Justin Schaible’s one-out triple in the bottom of the second gave the Pirates their first scoring threat.
An error by the Brewer’s shortstop, on a ball hit by catcher Daniel Woodall, allowed Schaible to cross the plate and gave Blue Earth a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Hodges retired 12 of the next 14 batters he faced, as he cruised through innings three through six.
The Brewers put runners on first and third in the top of the seventh inning with two out, but a soft pop fly to third baseman Kane Malo ended the Brewer’s threat.
The Pirates added another run in their half of the fourth. A bunt single by Schaible was followed with a single by Woodall giving the Pirates runners on first and second. Hodges helped his own cause, coming through with a hit to plate Schaible with the Pirates second run.
Malo was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the seventh inning and stole second base.
A hit by T.J. Stallman, who then also stole second, gave the Pirates two runners in scoring position. With two outs and a count of no balls and two strikes, T.J. Schmidtke came through with a single to center field to score both runners and give the Pirates a 4-0 lead.
The Brewers mounted one more threat in the eighth inning, putting runners on the corners with two out and left fielder Trip Schultz at the plate. Schultz had gotten on base in his three prior at bats with two singles and a double. With a count full, Schultz watched a Hodges curveball cross the plate for a called third strike, ending the inning.
Hodges recorded nine strikeouts for the game, with eight of those called third strikes. He walked no one. Hodges improved his 2009 state tournament record to 2-0 and overall season record to 11-2.
“I was trying to hit the corners,” says Hodges. “He (the umpire) was giving me the corners so I took advantage of that.”
The final line score showed the Brewers scoring 0 runs on six hits and committing one error, while the Pirates scored four runs on seven hits and made four errors.
“They are a good team,” says coach Todd Schmidtke as he talked about the Brewers. “Hopefully we got the errors out of our system.”
As for Hodges, Schmidtke enthused, “It was an awesome performance, he’s been pitching well all year.”
Hanska Lakers 3,
Blue Earth Pirates 1
It was a classic pitcher’s duel as Aaron Wendt of the Pirates and Josh Hadley, a draftee for the Lakers, held each team scoreless through the first five innings.
The Pirates, the visiting team for this game, broke the scoreless tie in the top of the sixth inning. Trent Sonnicksen led off the inning with a single to center, stole second base and scored on T.J. Stallman’s double to the gap between right and center field.
The threat ended as Todd Rasmussen hit a line drive to the first baseman who was able to double off Stallman at second base.
The Pirates’ lead was short-lived as the Lakers tied the game in the sixth. Lakers center fielder Mikale Gustafson beat out an infield hit on a slow roller up the middle. After stealing second base, he went to third on a ground out to the right side. Shortstop Dustin Wilfahrt singled to right field to bring in Gustafson and knot the game at 1-1.
The Lakers took the lead in the bottom of the seventh.
A one-out bunt by Matt Suess — that stopped rolling right on the third base line — gave the Lakers a runner at first. A pop out to shortstop Sonnicksen was recorded for the second out. Laker’s pitcher Hadley was the next to bat and he stroked one to the gap in right center. That scored Suess from first base and gave the Lakers a 2-1 lead.
The Lakers would add one more run in the bottom of the eighth to make the final score 3-1 in their favor.
Aaron Wendt went the distance for the Pirates, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out eight and walking none. The Pirates were charged with two errors.
Hadley pitched eight innings for the Lakers and gave up six hits while walking none and striking out three Pirates. Gary Wilfahrt pitched the ninth inning to earn the save. The Lakers also made two errors in the field.
The loss put the Pirates in the loser’s bracket with their next game to have been played on Friday, Sept. 4, against the St. Cloud Snappers.
It is a very tough road to get to the championship from the loser’s bracket. Besides winning their game against the Snappers, they would have to win one game on Saturday, two on Sunday and two on Monday to claim the championship.