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Bucs cash in free bases for 15-5 win over Saints

UP, UP & GONE — Blue Earth Area hitter Anders Fering (left) and on-deck batter Luke Mertens watch Fering’s towering home run leave the confines of Veterans Field in St. James during Friday’s Big South baseball game against St. James Area. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ST. JAMES — Anders Fering has hit his fair share of home runs, but Blue Earth Area’s powerful No. 3 batter probably hasn’t ever hit a round-tripper that seemingly no one in the park really got a good look at its landing spot beyond the outfield fence.

Fering launched a towering three-run HR, Keegan O’Brien doubled and drove in two runs, and Logan O’Hara contributed a two-run single to highlight the Bucs’ 15-5, seven-inning Big South Conference triumph over the scrappy St. James Area Saints on Friday at Veterans Field in St. James.

“Sixteen free bases. Sixteen. Wow,” a bemused Blue Earth Area head coach Todd Schmidtke said in reference to his batting order getting plunked an incredible nine times by St. James Area’s pitching trio in combination with drawing seven walks. “Obviously, Anders hit a big three-run home run to get our offense going in the top of the fourth (inning), and Keegan hit the ball hard three times and got robbed of hits twice, but we didn’t get too many chances to put the ball in play.”

O’Hara walked, swiped both second and third and scored the Bucs’ initial run via Luke Schonborn’s infield hit to the hole at shortstop during the top of the second, but the Saints answered with two in the home half.

Michael Suarez dropped down a perfect suicide-squeeze bunt to plate Hunter Stevens, who was hit by a pitch, before Jesus Moriel singled home Mason Lundberg, who reached on a bunt hit, to grab a 2-1 lead.

Adam Schavey, who was plunked three times, and Fering, who was walked, eventually scored on O’Hara’s two-run bloop single to right to help the Bucs regain the lead at 3-2 in the top of the third.

Alex Streseman, however, delivered a two-out single and later circled the bases on an error to knot the game at 3-all during the Saints’ half of the third.

O’Brien and Fering then combined forces to produce all four of the Bucs’ runs in the top of the fourth. Schonborn reached on an error before scoring when O’Brien drilled an RBI double to the left-center gap.

Schavey singled to put runners at second and third before Fering lofted a sky-high drive toward the beaming sun in right field. The Saints’ right fielder did not see the baseball clear the fence, but the base umpire ruled the shot a three-run HR.

“I never saw it land,” said Fering, who also scored a game-best three times on Friday.

“It just kept going up, but it was difficult to see looking into the sun. It landed somewhere beyond the fence, and that’s what counts,” Schmidtke said with a grin.

Parker Meyers’ double and O’Brien’s RBI groundout paced the Bucs’ two-run fifth at-bat to widen the lead to 9-4 before O’Hara relieved starting pitcher O’Brien on the mound to start the bottom of the fifth.

O’Hara allowed Cooper Olson’s RBI single in the fifth before hurling two shutout innings to hold St. James Area’s offense in check.

Meanwhile, Blue Earth Area manufactured five runs without the benefit of a hit during the top of the sixth to create separation on the scoreboard at 14-5.

Fering was hit by an offering, Luke Mertens walked and Madetzke bunted both runners into scoring position. O’Hara walked, Meyers’ hit by a pitch produced an RBI before four more runs crossed the plate on wild pitches.

The Bucs added a solo run in the seventh when Mertens was plunked and later scored on Abram Kokos’ RBI fielder’s choice.

O’Brien allowed four runs — none earned — on four hits in four innings of work. The right-hander struck out one, walked one and hit two batters in notching the win.

O’Hara gave up one earned run on three hits, struck out four, hit one batter and did not issue a walk in three stellar innings of relief.

St. James Area starting pitcher Jack Westman allowed 11 runs on seven hits, plunked four batters, walked four and struck out two in 5 1/3 innings to absorb the loss.

Streseman and Lundberg each went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Saints, with Streseman and Tyler Chapin each belting doubles.

Blue Earth Area (8-1) plays host to conference rival Pipestone Area in a doubleheader on Monday starting at 4:30 p.m. in Blue Earth.

St. James Area (1-6) plays host to Redwood Valley in a 5:30 p.m. league contest on Tuesday in St. James.

BEA 012 425 1 — 15 7 3

SJA 021 110 0 — 5 7 4

Keegan O’Brien (WP), Logan O’Hara (5) and Ryan Madetzke. Jack Westman (LP), Jesus Moriel (6), Mason Lundberg (7) and Hunter Stevens.

LOB–Blue Earth Area 9, St. James Area 6. 2B–Keegan O’Brien (BEA), Parker Meyers (BEA), Tyler Chapin (SJA), Alex Streseman (SJA). HR–Anders Fering (BEA). SAC–Ryan Madetzke (BEA), Cooper Olson (SJA), Michael Suarez (SJA).

Jackson County Central 4, Martin County West 1 — The Huskies’ Keenan Ambrose hurled five shutout innings at the Mavericks to help pace a three-run nonconference victory on Friday in Jackson.

Ambrose allowed two hits, issued one walk, hit one batter and recorded two strikeouts to earn the pitching victory for JCC.

Lucas Vesey and Trace Michelson worked the final two innings on the mound to preserve the winning decision for Ambrose.

Vesey gave up one run on two hits and walked one in pitching the sixth inning. Michelson then nailed down the save by notching one strikeout and giving up one hit in pitching a scoreless seventh inning.

Jacob Fiala topped the Mavericks’ offensive effort by collecting two hits, while Blake Jagodzinske hammered a triple. Kain Sanders delivered MCW’s only RBI on the contest.

Gavin Jacobsen pounded out a pair of doubles and drove in two runs to pace the Huskies’ four-hit performance.

Sanders allowed four runs — all unearned — on three hits, notched four strikeouts and issued two walks in 4 2/3 innings of work for the Mavericks.

Riley Kascht pitched the final 1 1/3 for MCW, allowing one hit, while striking out two.

Martin County West (4-7, 4-1 Valley) travels to Mountain Lake Area for a nonconference game at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

Jackson County Central (4-4) plays host to Windom Area on Tuesday in a 5:30 p.m. Big South Conference game.

MCW 000 001 0 — 1 5 4

JCC 000 130 x — 4 4 1

Kain Sanders (LP), Riley Kascht (5) and Lucas Jagodzinske. Keenan Ambrose (WP), Lucas Vesey (6), Trace Michelson (7, Sv) and Mason Pohlman.

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