Two months, zero losses
The Blue Earth Pirates extended their win streak to 16 games on Wednesday, maintaining their undefeated record with less than a month remaining in the team’s amateur baseball regular season.
Prior to a rematch scheduled with the Pirates for Wednesday, the New Richland Reds “folded”?and dissolved their team, according to Pirates player/manager Lee Hodges. The resulting Reds forfeit gave Blue Earth a victory, but the Pirates earned their stripes the hard way in two preceding shutout wins.
Visiting the Morristown Morries for a 2 p.m. matchup on Sunday, June 26, the Pirates picked up win No. 15 with the help of a five-hitter by pitcher Aaron Wendt, who struck out 10 batters in a complete-game performance. Wendt also led Blue Earth at the plate, going 4 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs to headline a 5-0 decision.
T.J. Schmidtke, T.J. Stallman and Bobby Olson also drove in runs for the Pirates in Morristown, while Hodges and Brandyn Olsen combined for six hits in the shutout, Blue Earth’s seventh of the season.
Two days earlier, the Pirates traveled to Jackson to face the Bulls and found similar success, more than doubling their score from Sunday in a 12-0 blowout of their hosts.
Olsen began the game on the mound for the Pirates, throwing five scoreless innings and striking out seven to add to his team-high season total of 48. Cody Sukalski, meanwhile, pitched the contest’s final four games in relief, surrendering not a single hit and logging five strikeouts of his own.
“Our pitchers have been outperforming expectations,”?Hodges said. “This takes a lot of pressure off our hitters, and we have a tough next few weeks with two league games and then a tournament.”
Fifteen hits among the Pirates helped the team scatter its 12 runs against Jackson, with three different innings featuring at least three runs by unbeaten Blue Earth. Olsen, Schmidtke, Sukalski, John Franta and Blue Earth Area High School’s Kaylan Legred each had at least two hits in the big win, while Kane Malo led the team with three walks on the evening.
The Pirates, who were slated to rematch the Wells Wildcats on Friday, July 1, will also host the Waterville Indians on July 6. Their showdown with the Indians will cap off Junior Pirate Night, an event for area little-leaguers. Free hot dogs and a chance to be a part of Pirates batting practice will be offered at the 6 p.m. activities in Blue Earth.
After that, the team is scheduled to kick off the 2016 Coors Light Tournament on July 8 in Shakopee, and a matchup with the Moorhead Brewers in Jordan a day later could give Blue Earth a chance to earn its 20th consecutive victory.
The following players are among the Pirates’ statistical leaders through 16 games:
Batting average:?T.J. Schmidtke (.491)
Hits:?T.J. Schmidtke (27)
Home runs:?Aaron Wendt, Bobby Olson (2)
RBIs:?Lee Hodges (18)
Runs:?Kane Malo, Brandyn Olsen (17)
Wins:?Brandyn Olsen (6)
Earned run average:?Brandyn Olsen (0.00)
Strikeouts:?Brandyn Olsen (48)