Pirates earn State bid
The Blue Earth Pirates earned their eighth consecutive trip to the state amateur baseball tournament by capturing the Region 4C crown last weekend in Waterville.
The Pirates dropped the first game of the weekend last Saturday, Aug. 14, by one run to the Mankato Mets. That victory qualified the Mets for their first state tournament appearance.
Later that evening, the Pirates also secured a spot in the state tournament when they defeated Lake Crystal 12-0, setting up a return match against the Mets on Sunday to determine the Region champion in the double elimination tournament.
The Pirates would have to win twice on Sunday to capture the Region championship while the Mets only needed one victory to gain the number one seed.
It would be the Pirates who would come through with a pair of victories. They downed the Mets 6-3 in the opening game and pounded the Mets 16-5 in the deciding game to gain the Region 4C crown.
“I thought our team showed their tournament toughness by coming back and beating the Mets twice on Sunday,” says Pirates manager Todd Schmidtke. “We had to overcome injuries to beat a good Lake Crystal team Saturday night and then take two from a tough Mankato team the next day.”
The Pirates (26-7) opened Class C State Tournament play on Saturday, Aug. 21, against St. Peter. The game was played in Spicer and starts at 5 p.m.
Details of that game will be in next week’s Register.
Mankato Mets 4,
Two 2-run homers were the difference in the first game on Saturday, as the Mets used the long ball to defeat the Pirates 4-3.
The Pirates had runners in scoring position in the first two innings, but couldn’t get a run across. They finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the third inning. Cody Sukalski led off the inning with a four pitch walk and advanced to second on a Trent Sonnicksen sacrifice bunt. An error on T.J. Schmidtke’s infield hit allowed Sukalski to score and put the Pirates up 1-0.
Mankato wasted little time in striking back. Pirates’ pitcher Lee Hodges gave up a one-out walk. He got the next batter on a fly out to center field. The Mets’ Darin Hendley then hit one out of the park to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Things got interesting in the top of the fourth inning.
Justin Schaible lined one off of Mets’ pitcher Ashton Dorris leg for a single.
Two batters later, Sukalski was at the plate and called time as Dorris began his windup. Apparently Dorris was unable to stop his windup or gain control as he drilled Sukalski in his lower leg as he stepped out of the batters box.
The Pirates felt it was intentional, in part because Dorris had done the same thing in a previous game a week earlier.
Players from both teams met at the mound, but the inning ended and there were some heated discussions – but the game went on without further incident.
Blue Earth came up with two runs in the top of the sixth inning to retake the lead. Garrett Anderson singled to reach first base with one out. He took second on a fielder’s choice and came around to score on Sukal-ski’s grounder through the second baseman’s legs.
The Mets’ second consecutive error, this time by their first baseman, allowed Sonnicksen to reach base and keep the inning alive. Schmidtke’s single plated Sukalski and gave the Pirate’s a 3-2 lead.
Justin Schaible’s apparent diving catch of a drive to left field was ruled a trap by the home plate umpire and gave the Mets a runner in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh inning. Two batters later the Mets would retake the lead when Ben Smith hit a drive that just cleared the right field fence for a two-run homer.
A deep drive to the fence by Sukalski in the top of the eighth inning was as close as the Pirates would come to scoring as the Mets secured a spot in the state tournament with the 4-3 win.
Hodges pitched eight innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits. He struck out four and walked two batters.
Pirates 12 L. Crystal 0
The Pirates faced Lake Crystal Saturday night in an elimination game. Both teams had one loss and the loser of this game would see their season come to an end. Lake Crystal had advanced to this game when they defeated the Mankato Twins earlier in the day.
Aaron Wendt pitched eight strong innings striking out 12, walking two, and giving up just six hits as the Pirates secured a spot in the state tournament with a 12-0 victory over Lake Crystal.
The game was called after eight innings because of the 10-run rule.
T.J. Stallman had three hits for the Pirates who pounded out 15 hits. Sukalski, Hodges, Schaible, Ryan Vereide, and Wendt each had two hits.
The Pirates, who scored in five of the eight innings, got all the runs they would need in the top of the first inning.
Sukalski led off the game with a single and scored two batters later on T.J. Schmidtke’s home run. One out later Hodges made it 3-0 with a solo home run.
Blue Earth was leading 4-0 in the top of the fourth when T.J. Stallman’s home run with Schaible on base made it 6-0.
Three more runs by the Pirates in the top of the sixth inning made it 9-0.
Hodges’ second home run of the game, a three run shot in the top of the eighth inning, pushed the lead to 12-0. Wendt pitched a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the eighth, striking out the last batter, to end the game.
Pirates 6 Mets 3
Blue Earth started the day (Sunday, Aug. 15) needing two wins to gain the Region 4C championship.
The Pirates scored four runs in their half of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and held on to claim a 6-3 victory and set up a championship game against the Mets.
The Mets got on the board first with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning off Pirates pitcher Brian Welch. Welch, a draftee off the Minnesota Lake Royals squad, gave up a lead-off double and single to the first two men he faced. They later scored to give the Mets a 2-0 lead.
Blue Earth put two men on in the bottom of the first without getting a hit. Sonnicksen drew a walk and Kane Malo was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Stallman’s two out single scored Sonnicksen to make it 2-1 in favor of the Mets.
The Pirates tied the game in the bottom of the third. Again, Sonnicksen reached first base by a walk, then advanced to second on a passed ball and scored on a single by Malo.
Meanwhile, Welch had settled down and the game remained tied heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Pirates used four base hits, a sacrifice, a walk and a couple of passed balls to score four runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-2 lead.
Sonnicksen led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Schmidtke’s sacrifice. Malo struck out but reached first on a passed ball with Sonnicksen advancing to third. Stallman’s single drove in Sonnicksen. Wendt drew a walk followed by a Schaible single to drive in two more runs. Bobby Olson, another draftee off the Minnesota Lake squad, hit another single to drive in the fourth run of the inning and give the Pirates a 6-2 lead.
The Pirates surrendered one run in the top of the ninth but held on for the 6-3 victory and set up a deciding game against the Mets
Welch went all the way for the Pirates giving up three runs on nine hits. He struck out five and walked five.
Sonnicksen and Stallman each had two hits for the Pirates and Sonnicksen scored three runs.
Pirates 16, Mets 5
Blue Earth’s bats came alive in the championship game as they exploded for 19 hits and 16 runs to defeat the Mankato Mets 16-5 and claim the number one seed out of the region.
Schmidtke led the hitting barrage with four hits. Sonnicksen and Mat Willner each had three hits and Malo had two hits.
The Pirates would score two runs in the bottom of the first, six in the bottom of the second, and two more in the third inning to take an 10-0 lead.
The Mets would get a run in their half of the fourth inning to make it 10-1.
Welch, who pitched nine innings in the Pirates 6-3 win in the first game of the day, started and hurled three scoreless innings. Garrett Anderson relieved Welch in the fourth and pitched one inning giving up one run while striking out three batters.
Sukalski took over in the fifth inning and pitched two and 2/3 innings before leaving the game with an injury. He gave up four runs, two which were earned, and five hits while striking out two.
Olson pitched the final one and 1/3 inning allowing zero runs on one hit and striking out two.