Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ely ousted from districts

Ely couldn't come up with a timely hit Friday and the result was two tough losses and an exit from the Eighth District Division II Playoffs.

Top-seeded Moose Lake slipped past Ely 3-2 in a winners' bracket contest at Cohasset, and the defeat sent Post 248 into the elimination round, where it fell 7-4 to Taconite in Deer River.

Ely's Will Gustafson and Moose Lake's Rex Janke hooked up in a pitchers' duel in the opener, and Ely jumped to an early lead with two runs in the top of the third.

Brody Skala's double to the fence set the table, and runs scored later in the frame on hits by Kyle Durbin and Gustafson.

Moose Lake answered right back in the bottom of the third and tied the score, and the deadlock was broken in the bottom of the fifth.

But Gustafson escaped a bases-loaded jam to keep it close, and Ely threatened in both the sixth and seventh frames.

Reliever Brad Fossum recorded the final four outs to get the save and Moose Lake (25-13) advanced into a winners' bracket meeting with Esko.

Gustafson scattered seven hits in the loss while both Skala and Andy Krunkkala had two hits for Ely.

In the nightcap, Ely jumped out to a 2-0 lead again and threatened to break the game open in the second when it loaded the bases with one out.  A line drive off the bat of  Gage Merhar was snared and resulted in a double play, turning momentum Taconite's way.

The middle innings belonged to Taconite, as it took a 3-2 lead in in the third and greeted reliever Kyle Durbin with two runs in the fifth.

It  was 7-2 before Ely staged a last-gasp rally in the seventh. Gustafson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Elliot Omerza came up with a sacrifice fly to close the gap.  Ely brought the tying run to the plate but winning pitcher Mike Chapurdia escaped and got the final out.

Omerza was tagged with the pitching loss, and both Durbin and Tayler Banks worked in relief.  Merhar had two hits and scored twice for Ely.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Ely rallies, escapes with first round playoff win

It took both a late-inning rally and a late-inning escape for Ely to survive its opening round battle with Two Harbors Tuesday night in the Eighth District Division II playoffs.

After Ely scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth to take the lead, winning pitcher Patrick Huisman then wiggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the sixth as Post 248 held on for a 4-3 victory at Portage Park in Cohasset.

Huisman's two-out single in the fifth proved to be the game-winning hit, but the junior righthander did his most impressive work on the mound, finishing with a six-hitter, eight strikeouts and giving up no earned runs.

Two walks and a misplayed bunt gave Two Harbors a prime opportunity in the top of the sixth before Huisman slammed the door, retiring the first three hitters in the opponents' lineup.

Huisman also gave up a leadoff single in the seventh, but settled in and closed out his eighth win of the year, notching a strikeout to end the contest.

The game was a seesaw affair, with Will Gustafson's double scoring Huisman all the way from first and putting Ely on top 1-0 in the opening frame.

Two Harbors scored an unearned run to tie the game in the top of the second, and Lucas Kempffer struck what seemed to be a pivotal blow in the top of the third, depositing a Huisman offering far over the left field fence for a two-run homer.

That seemed to be enough for pitcher Nate Bauck,who retired nine straight hitters before running into trouble in the fifth.

A Gage Merhar single started the rally and Brody Skala worked a walk to put two runners aboard.  Two Harbors misplayed an Andy Krunkkala bunt, loading the bases for Jeff Willis, who reached on a fielder's choice to cut the lead to one.  A throwing error tied the game, and Huisman clutched up for his second hit of the contest, a two-out single to center that put Ely in front to stay.

Both Huisman and Elliot Omerza had two hits for Ely, which managed six hits against Bauck.

Ely advances to play top-seeded Moose Lake, which had a scare of its own but scored in the bottom of the seventh to beat number-eight Brookston 7-6.  In other first-round action, Esko held off  Deer River 8-7 and International Falls downed Taconite 6-3.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Ely pummels Brookston in regular season finale

It took a couple of innings for Ely's bats to warm up Friday night, but they sizzled the rest of the way in 10-3 home victory over Brookston.

Jeff Willis and Tayler Banks had four hits each and Will Gustafson added three as Post 248 moved into a three-way tie for second place in the Eighth District Division II standings and won for the ninth time in 12 outings.

The hitting barrage, and a strong outing on the mound from junior Patrick Huisman, gave Ely a solid win in its regular season finale.

Huisman didn't yield an earned run and fired a three-hitter with 10 strikeouts en route to his seventh win of the summer.

Gage Merhar's sacrifice fly and Gustafson's run-scoring hit put Ely on top 2-1 in the bottom of the third, and after Brookston scratched out an unearned run to tie the game, the hosts regained the edge when a Willis single plated Banks.

Ely put the contest away with a five-run fifth, with Gustafson's double starting the rally and Banks, Willis and Huisman all notching run-scoring hits.

Post 248 had 16 hits on the night, with Banks going four-for-four with two runs batted in, and Willis coming up with a four-for-five performance to raise his batting average to a team-high .389.

Gustafson added three hits in his final home game in an Ely uniform, and the six-year member of Ely's Legion team was announced as this year's winner of the Mark Hernesmaa/David Chelesnik Jr. Memorial Award.

Huisman reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time this summer and largely dominated against Brookston, which is made up of players largely from Section 7A high school runner-up South Ridge.

The Ely win sets up a chance drawing for the two, three and four seeds in the upcoming Division II Eighth District Playoffs. Ely is tied with Esko and International Falls for second, trailing number-one Moose Lake.  Final seeding for the tournament will be determined Sunday and Ely's first postseason tilt is slated for Tuesday, either at Deer River or Cohasset.

The victory came on a festive night at Veterans Memorial Field,when local veterans were honored prior to the game and representatives of Minnesota Power - CEO Al Hodnik and strategic accounts manager Mike Perala - threw out ceremonial first pitches.  Minnesota Power was recognized for its $30,000 contribution that led to the purchase and installation of the brand-new scoreboard at the ballpark.

Earlier Friday, Virginia scored nine runs in the last two innings and ran away with a 13-1 win over Ely.  Winning pitcher Levy Paskett was four-for-five and recorded eight strikeouts, and Kyle Maki added four hits as well.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gustafson, Ely blank Deer River

Will Gustafson's return to the pitching mound proved to be a masterpiece, and Ely kept its hopes for a high playoff seed alive Wednesday night with a 3-0 home win over Deer River.

Gustafson, making his first start in more than two weeks after missing time because of an arm injury, didn't allow a Deer River runner past second base and finished with a complete-game three-hitter. He fanned seven Deer River batters.

Ely, which has won eight of its last 10 contests, got all the runs Gustafson would need in the bottom of the second, when both Jeff Willis and Patrick Huisman ripped run-scoring doubles.

Losing pitcher Chad Benham kept Ely largely at bay the rest of the night, although Post 248 scratched out an insurance run in the sixth, when Huisman walked and eventualy scored on an Elliot Omerza groundout.

Both Omerza and Krunkkala finished with two hits, but Gustafson's gem was the story of the evening.

The college freshman walked just two batters and was backed by an Ely defense that made only one error.

Ely, which can  yet climb as high as second place in the Eighth District Division II standings, closes the regular season Friday with a split doubleheader against Virginia (5 p.m.) and Brookston (7:30 p.m.)

Friday is Veterans' Night at Veterans Memorial Field, with all vets admitted receiving a free hot dog and beverage, and invited out on to the field for a brief pregame ceremony before the contest with Brookston.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I-Falls scores early, holds on to beat Ely

A rough first inning set the tone Tuesday night for Ely's American Legion baseball team.

Without giving up a hit, Post 248 allowed four first inning runs and host International Falls went on to a 10-6 victory.

Starting pitcher Patrick Huisman walked five batters and beaned two more in the top of the first, and International Falls eventually built an 8-2 lead.

The Broncos needed that cushion, as Ely scored four times in the top of the sixth and put two more runners aboard before winning pitcher Cole Miggins escaped.

Two more runs by the hosts in the bottom of the sixth added insurance, and Ely loaded the bases in the top of the seventh and had the tying runner at the plate.  Jake Eide, the third International Falls pitcher, got Jeff Willis to line out to end both the game and the threat.

Hits in the game were even at nine apiece, and Willis, Huisman and Kyle Durbin had two each for Ely.  Elliot Omerza worked five and one-third innings in relief of Huisman.

Ely returns to action Wednesday night, taking on Deer River at 7:30 p.m. in the second game of a VFW-Legion doubleheader at Veterans Memorial Field.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Durbin pitches Ely to Saturday Sir G's sweep

Kyle Durbin kept Taconite's bats in check and got plenty of support from a sound defense and an opportunistic offense as Ely scored a 9-1, six-inning victory and completed a Saturday sweep in the Sir G's Midsummer Classic.

The junior righthander tossed a four-hitter and walked only one batter as Ely kept its championship hopes alive in the 10-team tournament.

With a win against Duluth Lakeview in Sunday's 1:30 p.m. tilt, Ely will reach the finals, set to begin immediately afterward at 3:45.  Stephen-Argyle, Proctor and Virginia all remain in contention for a title game berth in the opposite five-team pool.

While Durbin kept Taconite off balance, Ely jumped to a 4-0 lead with three runs in the bottom of the third inning. Andy Krunkkala's two-run double was the key blow.

Taconite plated a run in the fourth but Cole Kellogg's diving catch in left field snuffed out a sixth-inning threat by the West Range visitors.

Ely put the game away with five runs in the bottom of the frame, with Patrick Huisman lining a two-run single to fuel the rally.

Huisman finished with three hits for the winners, while Jeff Willis went three-for-four and added his third consecutive three-hit game of the tournament.  Will Gustafson added two hits for the winners.

In other Sir G's action Saturday:
• Duluth Lakeview held off Chatfield  7-6;
• Proctor outscored Cloquet 16-13;
• Virginia outlasted Stephen-Argyle 7-4 in nine innings.

Ely bounces back with Sir G's win

Ely's American Legion baseball team broke out of a mini-hitting slump and rapped out 16 hits in a 15-7 win over Hermantown Saturday afternoon.

Gage Merhar had three hits and three runs batted in, leadoff man Jeff Willis added three hits and scored three times, and Ben Gantt had two hits and three runs batted in as Post 248 bounced back and evened its record at 1-1 in the 10-team Sir G's Midsummer Classic.

The offense provided plenty of cushion for winning pitcher Patrick Huisman, who scattered nine hits, struck out six and was aided by two double-play balls.

A four-run fourth inning, capped by Merhar's two-run single gave Ely a 10-2 lead, but Hermantown responded with five of its own in the top of the fifth.

Ely put the game away with five runs over the next two frames, finishing the game on a walk-off, hit-by-pitch with Gantt at the plate

Hitting in the number-nine slot, Gantt reached base four times while backup first baseman Brendan Hill came off the bench to add two hits.

Ely is back in action tonight at 7:45 p.m., taking on Taconite.  Miss Ely Morgan Housey is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

In other Sir G's action:
• Stephen-Argyle improved to 2-0 in the tournament by beating Cloquet 10-3.
• Proctor evened its tournament record at 1-1 with an 10-2 triumph over Virginia.