St. Peter outlasts B.E. Area in 2AA baseball clash

SWIPING SECOND — Blue Earth Area runner Brayden Barnett steals second base by beating the throw to St. Peter infielder Joey Baron (6) during Section 2AA baseball playoff action on Saturday in Waterville. (Photo courtesy of Kevin Mertens/Faribault County Register)

WATERVILLE — The No. 2-seeded St. Peter Saints now await the survivor of Tuesday night’s pair of Section 2 elimination baseball playoff games for the right to compete in the Class AA state tournament at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud starting on June 13.

St. Peter produced the decisive run on a walk-off wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning to squeeze out a 3-2 victory over the No. 4-seeded Blue Earth Area Bucs on Saturday in Waterville.

St. Peter (18-5) will play for the Section 2 championship at 5 p.m. Thursday in Waterville. The winner of the Blue Earth Area–Le Sueur-Henderson–Belle Plaine two-game showdown on Tuesday would have to defeat the Saints twice in order to earn a spot in the state tournament.

The Le Sueur-Henderson Giants, which edged Jordan by a 5-4 decision in an elimination game Saturday, squares off against the Belle Plaine Tigers at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Waterville. Belle Plaine nipped host Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, 5-3, to stay alive in the postseason.

The Le Sueur-Henderson–Belle Plaine winner then faces Blue Earth Area (16-7) in a 7:30 p.m. elimination contest Tuesday night in Waterville.

St. Peter grabbed an early 2-0 lead over Blue Earth Area during Saturday’s battle of previously-unbeaten sectional rivals.

Joey Baron, who had walked, scored the Saints’ initial run in the bottom of the first inning via a wild pitch. Carson Kennedy, who had singled, later crossed the plate on a Bucs’ infield error to double the gap.

Blue Earth Area, however, countered with solo runs in the top of the fourth and fifth innings to knot the game at 2-all.

Koby Nagel walked and eventually scored the Bucs’ first run on Brayden Barnett’s RBI single in the fourth.

Hunter Bleess then singled during Blue Earth Area’s fifth at-bat, advanced 90 feet on Caelan Sanders’ bunt hit and circled the bases on Karson Legred’s RBI single to even the game at 2-all.

Tyson Sowder was hit by a pitch to lead off St. Peter’s bottom of the seventh inning, reached second base on Baron’s sacrifice bunt, stayed put on an intentional walk to Kennedy and scored the game-winning run with two outs later via a wild pitch.

St. Peter starting pitcher Andy Regner allowed two earned runs on six hits in seven innings of work to earn the complete-game victory. The hard-throwing right-hander — a Minnesota State University, Mankato baseball commit — recorded seven strikeouts and issued two walks.

Blue Earth Area starting pitcher Hunter Bleess gave up three runs — only two earned — on six hits in six-plus innings. Bleess struck out seven batters and walked four to absorb the loss. Koby Nagel pitched 2/3s of an inning in relief of Bleess.