Seventh-inning Jags rally upends Buccaneers
When Logan Jahnke left the mound on April 21, swinging his glove in frustration as he walked to the dugout, the Buccaneers’ senior ace had given Blue Earth Area maybe his best outing of the season.
Before taking on his final batter of the evening, the maroon and gold starter had struck out six and surrendered just one run through 6 2/3 innings, bottling up Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman and maintaining a 2-1 Bucs lead.
Even an errant throw from third baseman Jesus Quintero, giving the Jaguars a two-out base runner on an infield grounder, did not rattle Jahnke from the hill as he prepared to get the final out and wrap up a complete-game victory.
But it was the slightest of misplays a turning point prominent mostly for its subtlety that changed everything, leading to a last-minute 5-2 defeat.
Jahnke’s final pitch of the night, a fastball on a beeline to the plate, came right back in the pitcher’s direction. In a matter of seconds, the line-drive ball had glanced off Jahnke’s glove, making a slow roll toward the shortstop. And by the time the senior hurler got his hands back on the ball, the batter had coasted past first with an RBI single, another runner who advanced on the previous error crossing the plate for the tying run.
“It’s a game of inches,” said BEA coach Todd Schmidtke. “It’s just one of those deflections where, if Logan’s glove is a little bit closer and he gets that, we win the game.”
But the Buccaneers, looking for their third straight after a 4-3 decision over United South Central three days earlier, did not.
Junior reliever Hunter Bleess, called upon to strand two runners for BEA after debuting from junior varsity earlier in the week, took over for Jahnke in the seventh. But ML/GHEC/T proceeded to arise from a game-long slumber, lacing an RBI double down the line on one of the first pitches from Bleess.
A two-run single followed. Then came another double.
It was not until after Bleess hit the subsequent batter, loading the bases and unintentionally inducing a steal attempt from third on a passed ball, that the Bucs escaped the inning a toss from catcher Kaylan Legred and tag by Bleess at the plate ended the Jags’ rally.
What once was a one-run lead for the Bucs, long maintained by Jahnke, had vanished first in the frustration of a just-missed play and then, amid the Jaguars’ four-run surge in the seventh, in seemingly helpless fashion.
“They got those hits at a really good time,” Schmidtke said.
But those timely hits, while smudging an otherwise near-seven-inning start from Jahnke, did not completely deter Schmidtke from praising BEA’s efforts.
“I’m proud of the kids,” he said. “Logan pitched well, and they worked really hard.”
That was doubly the case for a Bucs lineup missing two starters in first baseman Zac Schonrock and outfielder Jordan Huse, both of whom are unavailable for games this week.
Legred headlined BEA’s offense at the top of the order, going 3-for-4 with a trio of singles and giving the maroon and gold a 1-0 lead when he scored on a first-inning groundout by Quintero. The senior catcher also scored BEA’s second run, reaching base on a bunt single in the third and then coming home on a passed ball.
Junior Trevor Oppedal, the designated hitter in the cleanup spot for the Bucs, went 1-for-3 against the Jaguars, while Jahnke had a second-inning triple.
The Buccaneers (3-4) were slated to play the following day but had their game against Waseca (1-7) postponed to May 8 as a result of inclement weather.
BEA was next slated to host Worthington, who beat the Bucs 13-3 on April 6, in a 5:30 p.m. matchup at Fairgrounds Baseball Field on Tuesday, May 2.
BEA 4, USC 3
No more than a few weeks after committing to play for the University of Minnesota-Duluth after high school, senior Kaylan Legred headlined some late-game heroics in the Buccaneers’ second straight win on April 21, a 4-3 decision over Section 1A’s United South Central.
Blue Earth Area’s leadoff hitter against the Rebels, Legred played the first five innings of the Friday night showdown behind the plate as per usual, and his two-out double in the seventh inning helped break a 3-3 tie. But Legred also helped himself on the mound, throwing two perfect innings in relief of starter Trevor Oppedal and closing the game for BEA.
The maroon and gold, fresh off a 7-1 rout of Fairmont the night before, struck first in Wells with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Oppedal, who reached on a Rebels error, came home after hits from outfielder Joe Schavey and designated hitter Jared Kennedy; while second baseman Chris Sanders also scored after stroking a single to start the inning.
USC fired back in the bottom half of the frame, using three hits and a pair of walks to even up the score at 2-2, then got contributions from the top of its lineup in the fifth, sacrificing a runner into scoring position and taking a 3-2 lead.
But Sanders kicked off another retaliation from the Bucs in the sixth thanks to a leadoff single. The next three batters got out but still managed to drive Sanders in, knotting the contest at four runs apiece heading into the seventh.
Back-to-back strikeouts led off BEA’s next time at the plate, but two-out magic from the bottom of the order was sealed with a double from Legred and a walk by Sanders.
Junior varsity starters Hunter Bleess and Karson Legred saw action in the Bucs’ 4-3 win, relieving Logan Jahnke and Chris Jenkins, respectively.