Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ely claws past Esko in playoff opener

Ely overcame a disastrous top of the fifth with a clutch bottom half of the inning, and the result was a wild playoff win Tuesday night at Veterans Memorial Field.

After watching Esko score six runs in the top half of the inning only only two hits, Post 248 stormed back in the bottom half with four runs, then held on for a 7-6 victory in the opening round of the Eighth District Division II Playoffs.

Will Gustafson's two-out single plated Pat Huisman with the winning run and capped a four-run fifth, and it was Gustafson, on in relief of Louie Gerzin, who held off Esko in the final two frames.

Gerzin cruised through the first four innings with a 3-0 lead, but ran out of steam in the fifth and walked five batters.  An error prolonged the frame, Nick Emanuel's two-run double put Esko on top, and the visitors scored twice more to lead 6-3.

But an Esko error ignited Ely in the fifth, and Gerzin's run-scoring hit closed the gap to two. After Max Gantt singled, Pat Huisman delivered a key two-run single to tie the game, setting the stage for Gustafson's game-winner and giving a big Veterans Night crowd plenty to cheer about.

Gustafson allowed only two hits in two and two-thirds innings of work, and picked a runner off second in the sixth inning to thwart an Esko rally, on the way to his fourth win of the year.

Gerzin struck out nine and allowed only one hit, but seven walks led to an early exit for the Ely ace.

Elliot Omerza had a run-scoring single in the first and Cole Kellogg added a two-run dobule later in the frame, and that was the only scoring until the fifth.

Ely was aided by good defense, including the pickoff play in the sixth and a diving catch in center by Jeff Willis to end the game.

Huisman and Gerzin had two hits for Ely which outhit Esko 9-3.

Ely (18-10) advances to meet Two Harbors in a winners' bracket tilt at 2:30 p.m. Friday. Two Harbors advanced with a 9-2 victory over Deer River.

In the opposite bracket, International Falls ace Ben Humbert struck out 15 as the tournament's top-seeded team blanked Moose Lake 5-0.  Milaca scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to beat Taconite 3-2, in the final game of a playoff doubleheader at Marble.

The tournament resumes Friday with seven games, five in Ely and two more at Soudan.

Monday, July 21, 2014

District tournament starts with Veterans Night

The start of the Eighth District Division II playoffs will coincide with a salute to veterans at Ely's historic ballpark.

Tuesday is Veterans Night at Veterans Memorial Field, with a special on-field ceremony to take place just prior to Ely's 7:30 p.m. playoff contest with Esko.

All veterans and military personnel will be admitted free and be treated to a hot dog and a beverage, and they'll be asked to come out on to the field to be recognized just prior to the playing of the national anthem.

The Veterans Night tribute is similar to previous veterans' events at the ballpark, held during state and district tournaments over the last decade. Any veteran, active military member or guard member may sign in at the ticket booth for free admission.  Veterans are asked to line up for the ceremony by 7 p.m.

Veterans Night is part of a playoff doubleheader in Ely that starts with a 5:15 p.m. contest between Two Harbors and Deer River on what promises to be a festive night at the field.

Ely's Little League All-Stars, both the 9-and-10-year-old team and the 11-and-12-year-olds, will be recognized and introduced during Ely's game and concession stand specials are in the works the entire night - including $1 hot dogs and $2 Sloppy Joes.

After Tuesday's twinbill, the tournament resumes Friday with seven more games - five in Ely and two more in Soudan.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Schedule set for districts; Ely seeded third going into Tuesday night's opener with Esko

Eight teams will begin play Tuesday but only one will emerge at the end of the week as the Eighth District champion and its representative in the upcoming Division II State Tournament.

Host Ely is seeded third and will tangle with Esko in the second half of a district tournament doubleheader Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Field.

The 7:30 p.m. contest, part of Ely's Veterans Night celebration, is one of four first-round games and marks Post 248's first step in a quest to win the program's 12th state tournament berth since 1997.

But first the hosts must break a three-game losing streak which included an 8-0 loss to number-five seed Esko last Thursday.

The Ely-Esko rematch follows a 5:15 p.m. game between second-seeded Two Harbors and number-seven Deer River.  Top-seeded International Falls will meet either Moose Lake or Brookston at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday at Marble, with fourth-seeded Taconite, the defending district champion, taking on southern representative Milaca at 7:30.

The tournament resumes Friday with seven games, five in Ely and two more at Soudan's Legion Field, with two more contests Saturday and the finals slated for 4 p.m. Sunday.

The entire tournament schedule is listed below.

Monday July 21
PLAY IN 6:00 p.m. #8 Brookston at #7 Moose Lake Moose Lake

Tuesday July 22
Game 1 5:15 p.m. #6 Deer River vs. #2 Two Harbors           Ely
Game 2 5:15 p.m. Brookston/M. Lake vs. #1 Int. Falls    Marble
Game 3 7:30 p.m. South rep Milaca vs. #4 Taconite         Marble
Game 4 7:30 p.m. #5 Esko vs. #3 Ely          Ely

Friday July 25
Game 5 10:00 a.m. Loser 1 vs. Loser 4**                 Ely
Game 6 12:15 p.m. Winner 2 vs. Winner 3         Ely
Game 7   1:00  p.m. Loser 2 vs. Loser 3**              Soudan
Game 8     2:30 p.m. Winner 1 vs. Winner 4        Ely
Game 9   4:00 p.m. Winner 5 vs. Loser 6**     Soudan###
Game 10   4:45 p.m. Winner 7 vs. Loser 8** Ely ###
Game 11   7:00 p.m. Winner 6 vs.  WInner 8 Ely

Saturday July 26
Game 12   5:00 p.m. Winner 9 vs. WInner 10**        Ely
Game 13   7:15 p.m. Loser 11 vs. Winner 12** Ely

Sunday July 27
Game 14 4:00 p.m. Winner 12 vs. Winner 13    Ely
Game 15 6:30 p.m. Repeat if necessary           Ely

### - Locations for games 9 and 10 could be flip-flopped in order to keep 
Ely at its home field.

** - Elimination Game

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two Harbors slides past Ely

Ely squandered too many opportunities on Tuesday and lost its bid for the number-two seed in the upcoming district playoffs.

Two Harbors pitcher Tom Bott worked his way into and out of trouble, stranding 11 Ely runners in a 3-1 victory at Veterans Memorial Field.

Bott prevailed in a pitching duel with Ely's Will Gustafson, who gave up three unearned runs while firing a five-hitter. Gustafson struck out five.

Bott overcame eight walks and a hit batter to get the win, which came in an Eighth District two-point contest and gave Two Harbors the number-two seed for the Eighth District tournament, which starts Tuesday in Ely.

Ely, which ended the regular season on a three-game losing skid, will take a 17-10 record and the number-three seed into the tournament, with a 7:30 p.m. first-round tilt with Esko up next.

After leaving the bases loaded in both the first and fourth frames, Ely got to Bott in the sixth when Cole Kellogg's double plated Max Gantt. But Bott again escaped, getting Louie Gerzin to ground out with runners in scoring position.

Two Harbors scored with the benefit of Ely's fifth error of the game in the top of the seventh, adding an insurance run.

Earlier Friday, Virginia scored five times in the first and five in the fifth en route to a 12-6 win. Jeremy Katz dorve in four runs and had three hits for the winners, backing the pitching of Devin Mayry.

Elliot Omerza went three-for-three while Zach Smith added two hits for Ely.  Bradley Roy was tagged with the loss.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Esko blanks Ely, 8-0

Ely's faint hopes for the number-one seed in the upcoming district playoffs evaporated completely Thursday night in Esko.

The host Eskomos scored three times in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back, as Aaron Olson did damage with both his arm and bat in an 8-0 American Legion baseball victory.

Olson's three-run homer in the bottom of the first put the hosts on the board, and the righthander cruised on the mound, firing a two-hitter and facing just two batters over the minimum in the complete-game shutout. He did not walk a batter.

At the plate, Esko took advantage of numerous walks to jump out to an early lead. Ely ace Louie Gerzin walked six batters and hit another in his three innings of work, and five came around to score.  Elliot Omerza gave up two runs over the final three innings. Esko finished with six hits.

Gerzin and Bradley Roy had third-inning singles for Ely, but that was all Post 248 could muster as it fell to 17-8 on the year.

With the loss, Ely can do no better than a number-two seed for the Eighth District Division II playoffs, which start Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Field.  International Falls (19-4) wrapped up the top seed Thursday night with a doubleheader sweep over Taconite.

Ely wraps up the regular season Friday with a split doubleheader, home games against both Virginia and Two Harbors.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ely erupts early, takes care of Deer River in five

A big first inning set the stage for an easy victory Wednesday night for Ely's American Legion baseball team.

Post 248 sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first, scoring five times en route to an 11-1, five-inning district victory over visiting Deer River.

The win, Ely's 11th in 13 games, was fueled in part by a three-for-three day at the plate by Pat Huisman, who scored four times.

Huisman singled in a run in the bottom of the first and Cole Kellogg's two-out, two-run single capped the five-run outburst.

That staked winning pitcher Max Gantt to a comfortable cushion, and the senior won his fourth straight start, finishing with a five-hitter and three strikeouts.

Elliot Omerza went two-for-three and knocked in two runs for Ely (17-7), while senior first baseman Bradley Roy had two singles and a sacrifice bunt.

Ely is back in action Thursday night at Esko in a crucial district two-point contest.

Much remains to be decided in the Eighth District Division II standings, and Ely could still finish anywhere from first to fourth. Post 248 needs to win its last two contests, and for International Falls to lose at least twice, in order to claim the top seed for the district tournament, which starts July 22 at Ely.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Gustafson, Gerzin fuel win in Sir G's finale

Will Gustafson went the distance on the mound and drove in three runs, while fellow senior Louie Gerzin added four hits as Ely downed Proctor 10-4 Sunday in the final game of the Sir G's Midsummer Classic.

A seven-run outburst in the bottom of the second, all with two outs, gave Gustafson a comfortable lead and the righthander made the most of it, scattering eight hits en route to his third win of the summer.

Gustafson had a two-run single during the rally, when seven straight Ely batters reached base. Gerzin went four-for-four, scored three and knocked in two runs for the winners, who finished 3-1 in the tournament and are now 16-7 overall.

Proctor scored twice in the top of the second to take a 2-1 lead but that advantage was brief, as Post 248 responded with its big inning.

Spencer Gaulke added two hits for Ely, which returns to action Wednesday with a 7:30 p.m. home game against Deer River.

In other Sir G's action Sunday, International Falls won its third game of the tournament and shocked Division I power Duluth Lakeview 5-3 behind the pitching of Caleb Dahlin.  Kenyon downed Virginia 5-3 while Ely's VFW team filled in for Hermantown and defeated Pine City 17-9.