BE VFW ousted from tourney with loss to Hutch
Coming off of the loss to New Ulm Gold on July 27, Blue Earth VFW Post 4580 faced a simple situation against Hutchinson Post 906 on Friday, July 28; win or go home. Unfortunately for Blue Earth, they chose the latter.
BE was officially eliminated from the Second District Baseball Tournament in Mankato after a 13-3, six inning defeat at the hands of Hutchinson. An eight-run second inning proved to be more than enough run support to overwhelm the Blue Earth cause. All told, Hutchinson sent 12 men to the plate in the second inning against BE pitcher Koby Nagel.
Nagel struggled mightily in his 1 2/3 innings of work, allowing seven earned runs on five hits. Command issues compounded Nagel’s problems on the mound as he walked four and hit two batters. BE reliever Caelan Sanders fared somewhat better as he pitched the remaining 4 1/3 and allowed three earned runs on seven hits.
Hutchinson’s offense produced runs in four of the six innings during the ballgame. Meanwhile, the only offensive highlights from BE came during a two-run second inning, and one run in the third inning.
Blue Earth’s Hunter Bleess was one of the team’s leading hitters coming into the tournament with a .404 batting average. Bleess and Luke Mertens led off the second inning with a walk and a single respectively. While Bleess came around to score later in the frame on a Kyle Hagedorn sacrifice fly, Mertens crossed the plate by virtue of Carter Bell’s RBI groundout.
The third inning produced Blue Earth’s final offensive highlight of the afternoon. Sanders singled, then stole second base, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. From there, Sanders scored on a Gavin Storbeck single to left field.
Despite two lopsided defeats and an early exit from the district tournament, Blue Earth coach Jeff Bell was very proud of his team’s overall effort. For Bell, BE was playing with house money as this team was not expected to qualify for the tournament in the first place.
“The most important thing is that our guys didn’t give up,” said Bell. “We just kept battling and we were able to make some plays along the way. It’s been a heckuva ride and a great season.”