ST. JAMES - Leadoff batter David Franta triggered Blue Earth American Legion Post 89's seventh-inning surge Thursday night, while No. 7 hitter Andrew Bell supplied two insurance runs with a two-out single later in the at-bat.
Franta and Bell each produced two hits, while ace right-hander Brandyn Olsen fired a four-hit complete game to propel Blue Earth to an 8-3 opening Sub-District 'C' victory over Welcome Post 553/Sherburn Post 356 in St. James.
Blue Earth (9-6) plays St. James - 4-3 winner over Lake Crystal in eight innings - at 8 p.m. tonight back in St. James.
LOOKING FOR TWO — Welcome American Legion Post 553/Sherburn Post 356 shortstop Alex Biehn prepares to throw to first base after forcing out Blue Earth Post 89 runner Andrew Bell at second base during first-round Sub-District ‘C’ baseball action Thursday in St. James. Photo by Charlie Sorrells
Welcome/Sherburn (8-7) faces Lake Crystal at 6 p.m. today in an elimination game in St. James.
"His curveball was working well today," Post 89 coach Steve Sonnicksen said in reference to Olsen, who recorded six strikeouts, including two during a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh.
Olsen also received stellar support from his defense, which turned 6-4-3 double plays in both the fourth and fifth frames to stymie a pair of potential Welcome/Sherburn offensive threats.
Trailing 4-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Welcome/Sherburn cleanup hitter Levi Ringnell reduced Blue Earth's edge to one with one powerful swing of the bat.
Austin Krumwiede and Caleb Fiala drew walks from Olsen before Ringnell drilled a three-run homer over the left-field fence to narrow Welcome/Sherburn's gap to 4-3.
Franta, however, answered the run production by setting the table for Blue Earth in the top of the seventh. Franta, who went 2-for-3, hammered a leadoff double to deep center before wheeling to third base when Dallas Barslou's grounder was mishandled.
Carter Hanson drew a walk to load the bases before Olsen assisted his own cause by lofting a sacrifice fly to right to plate the fleet-footed Franta.
Welcome/Sherburn right-hander Tyson Schuder recorded a strikeout for the second out, but he hit Matt Rockers for the second time in the game to load the bases again.
Bell deposited a two-run single back through the middle to widen the gap to 7-3 before Rockers crossed the plate when Christian Hough's grounder was mishandled.
Olsen and Blaine Hougen delivered RBI fielder's choices on the heels of three consecutive walks in the top of the first for Blue Earth, while Barslou and Hanson generated an RBI single and a sacrifice fly, respectively, during the Post 89 second at-bat. Bell and Franta contributed singles to the two-run second inning.
Hougen added a double to Blue Earth's six-hit effort, while Alex Saxen and Mitch Sitzmann chipped in hits to complement Ringnell's two-hit performance for Welcome/Sherburn.
Olsen gave up three runs on four hits, struck out six, walked three and hit one batter in seven innings of work to earn the victory.
Schuder allowed eight runs - only four earned - on six hits, struck out three, walked four and hit two batters in seven innings of work to absorb the loss.
B.E. 220 000 4 - 8 6 0
W/S 000 003 0 - 3 4 4
Brandyn Olsen (WP) and Carter Hanson. Tyson Schuder (LP) and Levi Ringnell.
LOB-Blue Earth 7; Welcome/Sherburn 3. 2B-David Franta (BE), Blaine Hougen (BE). HR-Ringnell (WS). SF-Hanson (BE), Olsen (BE).