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W/BE opens tournament with win

By Staff | Jul 14, 2019

Keegan O’Brien of the Winnebago/Blue Earth American Legion team slides safely into home to tie the game against Truman at 9-9 in the top of the seventh inning. W/BE would go on to win the game in nine innings.

The Winnebago/Blue Earth American Legion baseball team opened the Division II Section 2C Legion baseball tournament with an 8-5 victory over St. James. The game was played in Blue Earth on Thursday, July 11.

Three runs in the first inning and five runs in the third inning propelled the home team to the victory.

Joe Schavey and Karson Legred singled in the first inning to put runners on the corners. Anders Fering walked to fill the bases. Hunter Bleess doubled to clear the bases and give W/BE a 3-0 lead.

W/BE scored five times in the fifth inning. Bleess, Legred and Caelan Sanders each drove in one run while Luke Mertens had two RBIs in the inning.

Tournament play continued July 12-13. Results of the game will be in next week’s Faribault County Register.

W/BE 14, Truman 4

New York Yankees legend, the late Yogi Berra, is known for many famous quotes, including, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

Had Berra been at the American Legion baseball game in Truman last Monday evening, he might have added, “See, I told you so.”

The visiting Winnebago/Blue Earth team trailed Truman 9-1 as they came up for their last at-bat in the top of the seventh inning. Truman recorded two quick outs but then the unbelievable happened. W/BE scored eight runs to tie the game and send the game to extra innings. W/BE completed the comeback and went home with a 14-10 victory in nine innings.

“Brayden Barnett, what can you say about a kid who plays right field, and yet when the inning is over, hustles and is almost the first one back to the third-base dugout,” coach Paul Nienaber said referring to one of the leaders on the team. “It is one thing to lead when things are going good, Barnett showed his leadership when we were down.”

With the Legion playoffs starting later in the week, both teams entered the contest with a plan to give a little bit of work to a number of their pitchers.

Because of rainouts and the July 4 holiday, W/BE had not played a game in 11 days.

Truman came out and attacked the ball, scoring three runs in the first inning, one in the second, three in the fourth and two in the sixth to give them nine runs after six innings.

Meanwhile, the W/BE batters were having trouble generating much offense.

W/BE finally put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth inning.

Joe Schavey led off the inning with a walk and advanced to third base on a single by Karson Legred. A single by Anders Fering plated Schavey with the first run of the game for W/BE.

The stage was now set for the dramatic seventh inning rally by W/BE. Schavey was at the plate, there were two outs and he had a three ball-two strike count. Truman was one strike, one out away from winning the game.

Schavey hit a soft grounder back to the pitcher. It looked like an easy out, but somehow the ball glanced off the side of the pitcher’s glove towards third base as Schavey hustled down the line and was safe at first base.

Just like the sixth inning,?Legred singled and Schavey moved to third base. Fering stepped to the plate and the Truman pitcher uncorked a wild pitch to score Schavey and send Legred to second base. A grounder to the third baseman resulted in another Truman error and put runners at the corners with Barnett stepping into the batter’s box.

Barnett hit a grounder to the shortstop who proceeded to throw the ball over the first baseman’s head. Legred scored, Fering went to third and Barnett ended up on second base. Truman’s lead was now 9-3.

Hunter Bleess made it 9-6 when he hit a home run over the fence on a 2-0 count.

Koby Nagel walked, Luke Mertens was hit by a pitch, and then Keegan O’Brien walked to load the bases.

A walk to Calean Sanders brought Nagel home and Truman’s lead had shrunk to 9-7.

Luke Mertens scored from third base when he beat the tag on a wild pitch to make the score 9-8. O’Brien advanced to third and Sanders took second on the play.

Schavey was up next and struck out but the catcher could not hang onto the ball and O’Brien sprinted home to tie the game at 9-9 as Schavey safely reached first base.

Truman finally got the third out and then threatened to end the game in the bottom of the seventh inning. They had runners on second and third base with one out but Sanders recorded a strike out for out number two and got the third out on a grounder to the shortstop Nagel.

W/BE failed to score in the top of the eighth inning and then turned to an unlikely source to take the mound in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Barnett, whose entry into the United States Marines was delayed from June to a later date, came in to pitch in a game for the first time in four years. The 2019 Blue Earth Area graduate worked out of a bases-loaded two-out jam to send the game to the ninth inning.

“He hasn’t pitched in four years,” Nienaber explains. “I am running out of pitchers and I look at him and he says, ‘Let’s do it.'”

The top of the ninth inning began with O’Brien getting hit by a pitch. He then stole second base. He went to third on Sander’s bunt single. Sanders then advanced to second on defensive indifference.

O’Brien beat the throw to the catcher on Schavey’s slow hit to the pitcher with Sanders moving to third base. Wild pitches, three more Truman errors and a steal of home by Barnett resulted in W/BE scoring five runs to take a 14-9 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning.

Truman scored one run on back-to-back doubles with two outs in the ninth before W/BE recorded the final out with a fly out to Schavey in right field.

Barnett gets credit for the win. He pitched two innings and gave up one run on two hits. He struck out three and walked three.

Legred had three hits, Fering had one hit and two RBIs and Bleess had two hits and three RBIs.

W/BE finishes their regular season with a record of 7-1.

“It all starts when you are in the dugout in between innings,” coach Nienaber commented. “Are you paying attention, studying their pitcher and looking for “tells” which might give you an advantage, that is what will separate a championship team from a good team.”