Blue Earth defeated by Arlington
For the first time since 2002, there will be no trip to the state tournament for the Blue Earth Pirates.
The Pirates suffered their second and final defeat of the 6C Regional Tournament in front of their home fans on Friday, Aug. 10. They were defeated by the Arlington Athletics of the River Valley League, 1-0.
A pitcher’s duel throughout, Blue Earth managed just one hit through the first three innings of play. Meanwhile, Arlington was held hitless during that span.
In both the fourth and sixth innings, the Pirates had two runners aboard with two outs, and failed to cash in on those scoring opportunities. Despite their struggles on offense, Blue Earth starting pitcher Garrett Anderson did not allow a hit through six innings of stellar work on the mound.
In the seventh inning however, Anderson surrendered a leadoff double. A sacrifice bunt on the next at-bat gave Arlington a runner at third with just one out in the frame. A perfectly executed suicide squeeze play allowed the runner to score on the play. Meanwhile, the Arlington batter advanced to second base following a Pirates throwing error on the play.
With Anderson up to 92 pitches in the ballgame, and Arlington threatening to score again, the Pirates held a brief meeting on the mound. After the break in action, Anderson regained his composure and retired the next two batters to end the Arlington threat.
Once again, the Pirates had two on with two out in the seventh and eighth innings, but failed to score in either situation. In the top of the ninth, Anderson, who pitched a complete game for Blue Earth, was able to assert his dominance by striking out the side; preventing Arlington from adding any insurance runs.
In the bottom of the ninth, and down to their last chance, Blue Earth got off to a promising start as Hunter Bleess worked a five pitch walk. In the next at-bat, Blue Earth’s Kane Malo laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance Bleess to second base.
A sharply hit groundout to second by TJ Schmidtke allowed Bleess to advance to third with two outs. With the tying run 90 feet away, Blue Earth’s Lee Hodges popped up to third base to seemingly end the ballgame.
However, Arlington’s third baseman dropped the ball and Hodges was able to reach first base on the error as the inning continued. Unfortunately for Pirates fans, Bleess did not score on the play from third.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Pirates outfielder Aaron Wendt stepped to the plate with an aggressive approach. However, Wendt struck out on three straight pitches.
By virtue of the loss, Blue Earth’s streak of 15 consecutive appearances in the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament has been snapped. Pirates manager Lee Hodges expressed his thoughts following the season-ending loss.
“I thought Garrett pitched a tremendous game, but we just couldn’t push any runs across. We had our chances with runners on base, but didn’t get the hits when we needed them. That is just how the game goes sometimes,” Hodges said.