Bucs run-rule Jaguars in nonconference baseball clash

SWIPING THIRD — Blue Earth Area runner Brayden Barnett (right) swipes third base by reaching the bag before a tag by Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman infielder Clay Gieseke during non-league baseball action Monday in Blue Earth. (Photo by Greg Abel)

BLUE EARTH — A solid outing on the mound from Gavin Storbeck and an eight-hit day from the Buc offense led to a run-rule shortened game at Veterans Field in Blue Earth.

Blue Earth Area beat the Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman Jaguars 10-0 in a five-inning non-league game Monday.

Storbeck pitched all five innings in the shortened game, giving up three hits and one walk, while striking out six, including striking out the side in the second inning.

Storbeck’s strikeouts came mostly on fastballs blown by the Jaguar hitters.

BEA head coach Todd Schmidtke said Storbeck did a good job attacking the strike zone.

“Gavin pitched really, really well,” Schmidtke said. “He was really being aggressive in the strike zone, challenging the hitters and putting good location and velocity on his pitches.”

The Bucs began to build their lead in the second inning.

Anders Fering walked and Koby Nagel laid down a beautiful bunt that died on the thick infield grass between the pitchers mound and home plate. After an attempted sacrifice bunt turned into a fielder’s choice, getting Fering on his way to third, Hunter Bleess hit a rocket down the left-field line to bring Nagel around from second. Storbeck walked to load the bases and Brayden Barnett was hit by a pitch for an RBI.

After a passed ball and a Keegan O’Brien single, BEA had a 5-0 lead and Jaguar starter Jordan Wiederhoft was removed from the game for Ross Balcom, who finished the inning on the first pitch when he forced a fly ball to center against BEA’s ninth batter of the inning.

With Balcom on the mound in the third, the Bucs noticed he never switched to a slide step and began stealing every chance they had.

Fering led off the third with a single into center, then stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. He came around to score when Bleess hit a bloop single into left field.

In the fourth, Barnett led off with a line-drive single into left, then stole second and third before scoring on a passed ball.

Three walks, a single and three errors allowed the Bucs to score three runs in the fifth and force the shortened game. Barnett hit an RBI single into short center field with runners on second and third to finish the game.

Schmidtke said he was happy with his team’s performance against a previously-undefeated team.

“We played really well,” Schmidtke said. “They were undefeated for Pete’s sake, we knew they were pretty good. … Overall, we played good, we hit the ball hard and ran the bases well, I thought it was a good, team win for us. … We beat a good team, we had to play well and we did.”

Bryant Berhow doubled for the Jaguars in the top of the fifth, but was caught off the bag when the Bucs pulled off a hidden ball trick. Storbeck faked the throw to second, while second baseman Barnett and shortstop Nagel dove toward the bag and pretended to lose track of the ball.

When Berhow left for third, Storbeck quickly chased him down for the tag.

Paxton Gravlin, a single in the fourth, and Mitch Prafke, a single to lead off the game, collected the only other hits for the Jaguars.

Jaguar head coach Scott Chirpich said his team made the plays it needed to until the final innings and it will need to forget this game when the players show up to their next one.

“Defensively, we made the plays until the last couple of innings there,” Chirpich said. “Pitchers did the best they could trying to throw strikes and give our fielders a chance. They (BEA) just did a good job being patient or being aggressive when they needed to and they did a good job driving runs in. Offensively … we just need to find a way to get on them early and not let their pitcher get up in the count where we can’t do much with it.

“Flush this one, forget about it. Tomorrow is another opportunity, just gotta come ready to play from the first pitch.”

After Wiederhoft pitched 1 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on three hits, two walks and a hit batter, Balcom threw two innings and Clay Gieseke closed the final third of an inning.

Balcom gave up two runs on three hits, while striking out one and walking one and Gieseke gave up three runs, none earned, on three walks, a hit batter and one hit, while collecting one strikeout.

BEA (7-2, 4-2) plays again today when it travels to Worthington for a 5:30 p.m. game, while the Jaguars (6-1, 4-0) play host to Loyola at 5 p.m. tonight in Truman.

MLGT 000 00 — 0 3 5

B.E. Area 051 13 — 10 8 1

Game-winning run scored with no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Jordan Wiederhoeft (LP), Ross Balcom (2), Clay Gieseke (4) and Mitch Prafke, Jaiden Cook (4). Gavin Storbeck (WP) and Karson Legred.