LSH’s late comeback ends B.E. Area’s 2AA run
WATERVILLE — “A pair of one-run games. So close, so close,” Blue Earth Area head baseball coach Todd Schmidtke lamented on the heels of the Bucs’ second consecutive loss by the miniscule margin in the Section 2AA playoffs.
Burke Nesbit doubled and scored the decisive run on Tristen O’Brien’s walk-off RBI single with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel the Le Sueur-Henderson Giants to a 4-3 comeback victory over Blue Earth Area on Wednesday night at William J. Grose Park.
“I’m so proud of these guys, especially our seniors, for the time and effort they put into the game this season,” said Schmidtke, whose lineup suffered a 3-2 sectional loss at the hands of St. Peter during the bottom of the seventh inning last Saturday.
Blue Earth Area ended its season with a 16-8 overall record.
Le Sueur-Henderson (21-4) advances to face St. Peter at 5 p.m. today back at Grose Park for the sectional championship and a Class AA state bid. The Giants would have to defeat the Saints twice to earn a trip to St. Cloud.
Ironically, the Giants completed the final three innings of its elimination game against Belle Plaine with a 3-1 win on Wednesday. The Giants and Tigers played four full frames Tuesday night before the contest was suspended due to rain and lightning.
After a 30-minute respite, LSH dispatched Blue Earth Area in a down-to-the-wire clash on the strength of Burke Nesbit’s strong pitching arm and potent bat on Wednesday night in Waterville.
With the postseason game knotted at 3-all after five innings in the books, Giants head coach Rick Bruns replaced starting pitcher Jayce Luna, who had maxed out his pitch count, with the right-handed throwing Nesbit.
Nesbit retired six consecutive Buc batters combined in the sixth and seventh innings to keep the Giants’ advancement chances alive.
Nesbit, who went 3-for-3, smacked a leadoff double down the right-field line off of BEA reliever Koby Nagel to set the dramatic seventh-inning stage. Schmidtke then opted to issue an intentional walk to Mitch Casperson to set up a force situation, but an error on Zack Berndt’s flyball to right field allowed Nesbit to wheel to third base. The Bucs did get a forceout at second base, and were forced to play the infielders in with O’Brien at the plate. O’Brien drilled the game-winning single into right field to end the game in LSH’s favor.
The Bucs pounced to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Caelan Sanders reached on a one-out Giants’ error, stole second base and circled the bases on Karson Legred’s RBI double down the left-field line.
Blue Earth Area then extended its lead to 3-0 in the third. Gavin Storbeck singled and Hunter Bleess legged out a bunt hit before courtesy runner Will Howard and Bleess each moved up a base on Sanders’ perfect sacrifice bunt.
Legred was intentionally walked before Luna plunked Anders Fering for an RBI. The Giants’ second baseman then mishandled Koby Nagel’s sharp grounder to allow another Buc run to score.
Nesbit then delivered yet another clutch play for LSH by catching Keegan O’Brien’s flyball to center and pegging a strike to catcher Logan Kahlow to nail the Bucs’ lead runner for an inning-ending double play.
Berndt and O’Brien collected back-to-back singles off Storbeck in the fourth before Berndt scored LSH’s first run when Charlie Weick’s grounder to short was bobbled.
Tommy Gupton and Nesbit singled in back-to-back style in the Giants’ fifth, Casperson walked, Berndt drew an RBI walk and O’Brien lofted a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the game at 3-all.
Luna allowed three runs — one earned — on four hits, struck out three, walked two and plunked two batters in five innings to receive a no-decision.
Bleess struck out four and walked one in two hitless and scoreless innings of relief for the Bucs. Storbeck started on the hill and allowed three runs — one earned — on six hits in four-plus innings of work for no decision. He struck out five and walked one.
BEA 102 000 0 — 3 4 3
LSH 000 120 1 — 4 8 2
Winning run scored with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Gavin Storbeck, Hunter Bleess (5), Koby Nagel (7, LP) and Karson Legred. Jayce Luna, Burke Nesbit (6, WP) and Logan Kahlow.
LOB–Le Sueur-Henderson 9; Blue Earth Area 6. 2B–Karson Legred (BEA), Burke Nesbit (LSH). SF–Tristen O’Brien (LSH). SAC–Caelan Sanders (BEA), Hunter Bleess (BEA), Luke Mertens (BEA).