Pirates advance to semis in playoffs
The Blue Earth Pirates advanced to the semifinals of the 4C Region Playoffs last weekend with wins over Lake Crystal and New Prague.
The Pirates played Lonsdale at Lonsdale on Aug. 13 in the region semifinals. The game took place after the Register’s deadline.
If the Pirates win, they will play in the 4C Region Final, Sunday, against Lake Crystal, Lonsdale or New Prague.
Blue Earth 4,
Lake Crystal 3
In a rematch of the previous week’s league championship, the Blue Earth Pirates rallied to score two runs in the ninth inning to secure a one-run victory.
The decisive hit occurred when Josh Amundson delivered a triple to drive in Cody Sukalski and T.J. Schmidtke.
Amundson entered in the final frame as a pinch hitter for Bobby Olson.
To set up the game’s winning run, Sukalski reached base on an error by Lake Crystal’s Spencer Yoeckel and Schmidtke followed with a single to reach base.
Jon Traetow almost tied the game while leading off the ninth inning.
The left-hander came within feet of hitting a home run before Lake Crystal right fielder Ryan Kapsner ran down the blast on the warning track.
The Pirates took control of the game in the early innings after plating two runs in the third inning.
Sukalski led off the inning with a solo home run. Schmidtke followed the blast with a single to left field. On the single, Lake Crystal’s Jake Dalton misplayed the ball, allowing Schmidtke to advance to second.
Schmidtke continued his aggressiveness on the base paths by stealing third base.
Bobby Olson drove Schmidtke in from third for the Pirates second run of the inning.
The middle innings of the league championship rematch were dominated by Lake Crystal. They scored three unanswered runs and held the lead until the two-run Pirate ninth inning.
Lake Crystal plated one runner in the fourth and two more scored in the sixth.
In the fourth inning, singles by Jon Ahern and Charlie Hauser produced Lake Crystal’s first run of the game.
To kick off the sixth inning, an error by Blue Earth first baseman Bobby Olson led to two unearned runs.
Jon Ahern and Jimmy Olson crossed the plate for Lake Crystal after Ahern forced the error and Olson singled.
Lee Hodges went the distance on the mound throwing nine complete innings. The power pitcher surrendered only one earned run in the contest while scattering seven hits.
Blue Earth 8,
New Prague 6
The Blue Earth Pirates held off a late rally by New Prague to secure a spot in last Sunday’s regional quarterfinal win against Lake Crystal.
With a comfortable 8-2 lead in the ninth inning, the Orioles charged back scoring four runs before the Pirates’ Sukalski slammed the door.
Sukalski entered the game with a runner on first base and four Oriole runners already crossing the plate in the inning.
After allowing a single to the first batter faced, Sukalski didn’t allow the tying run to get past first.
The closer recorded a strikeout and a fielder’s choice to end the game. Sukalski picked up the save and teammate Aaron Wendt earned the win.
Wendt threw 6 1/3 innings allowing a mere two runs. Traetow relieved Wendt and was unhittable throwing 1 2/3 innings, striking out five of the six batters he faced.
Traetow turned the ball over to Brian Welch who had trouble getting outs. He gave up the four runs in the ninth before Sukalski took over to earn the save.
The early lead was built largely because of T.J. Stallman’s performance at the plate.
The power hitter crushed solo home runs in the second and third innings, sparking an early 5-0 lead.
Stallman finished the game with four hits in five plate appearances.
In the eighth inning, the Pirates scored two crucial runs with a Schmidtke suicide squeeze and four singles by Sukalski, Olson, Hodges and Trent Sonnicksen.
The Pirates are now 25-8 overall in the 2011 season.