One bad inning sent Ely into the elimination bracket in the Eighth District Division II playoffs, but a come-from-behind effort Friday night kept the hosts alive in the tournament and sent them into the final four.
Three straight two-out hits capped a four-run rally in the bottom of the fourth, and senior Max Gantt held off Moose Lake in a 4-3 victory at Veterans Memorial Field.
The win helped Post 248 bounce back from a 4-1 loss to Two Harbors earlier in the day, in a contest decided by a disastrous fourth inning in which three Ely errors led to four Two Harbors runs.
Ely (19-11) will play Esko at 4:45 p.m. Saturday in another elimination round contest, with the winner advancing to meet Two Harbors at 7 p.m. Whoever survives will move into the finals to meet International Falls, which remained unbeaten in the tournament with a 5-1 victory over Milaca and a 9-4 triumph against Two Harbors.
After retiring the first nine batters, senior Will Gustafson ran into trouble in the fourth against Two Harbors, which took advantage of two errors and a walk to break a scoreless deadlock. Following a third Ely error, Two Harbors bunched its only three hits of the game to take a 4-0 lead.
The cushion was enough for lefty Kyle Omtvedt, who held Post 248 to three hits and worked out of a bases loaded jam in the second. Ely's only tally came in the fifth, when Jeff Willis doubled and scored on a Louie Gerzin groundout.
Gustafson fanned five, allowed only the three hits and did not give up an earned run.
Moose Lake nicked Gantt for two runs in the third inning, but Ely batted around in the fourth, with Cole Kellogg's run-scoring double driving in Gustafson and putting the hosts on the board. Gerzin's infield single tied the game with two outs, while Gantt and Pat Huisman followed with back-to-back run-scoring hits that made it 4-2.
Moose Lake got one run back in the sixth, but Gantt retired the side in the seventh for his team-high fifth win of the year.
Ely finished with seven hits against two Moose Lake pitchers, including two each by Gantt and Gerzin.
The complete lineup of tournament games Friday included:
• Esko 16, Deer River 11, Deer River eliminated;
• Moose Lake 6, Taconite 4 (8), Taconite eliminated;
• International Falls 5, Milaca 1;
• Two Harbors 4, Ely 1;
• Esko 7, Milaca 6 , Milaca eliminated;
• Ely 4, Moose Lake 3, Moose Lake eliminated;
• International Falls 9, Two Harbors 4