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Giefer, Chargers defuse Bucs in Section 2AA baseball clash

RACE TO FIRST — Blue Earth Area pitcher Anthony Carr (33) catches a flip toss from Bucs’ first baseman Nick Barke (center) before beating Minnesota Valley Lutheran hitter Cole Thompson to first base for a game-opening out during Thursday’s Section 2AA elimination baseball game at Veterans Field in Blue Earth. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)

BLUE EARTH — Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s baseball team stepped onto Veterans Field in Blue Earth on Thursday and won one for the Giefer — Chargers’ starting pitcher Josh Giefer, that is.

Giefer, a senior right-hander, fired a complete-game three-hit shutout and delivered a pivotal two-run double offensively to engineer MVL’s 4-0 victory over the Blue Earth Area Bucs during a Section 2AA elimination game in Blue Earth.

The Chargers, who improved to 10-11 overall, advance to play Belle Plaine in a 4 p.m. elimination game Saturday at Walsh Field in Gaylord. New Ulm edged Belle Plaine in an unbeaten-bracket contest, 6-5, Thursday.

Blue Earth Area closed out its season with a 9-10 overall record.

MVL assistant coach Jeff Schoenherr talked about the Chargers’ ability to play ‘small ball’ during a pregame chat, and the No. 10 seed used that strategy to its advantage to grab a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning.

Zach Riederer lined a leadoff single to left field off of Blue Earth Area starting pitcher Anthony Carr before MVL bunted twice to manufacture a solo run in the second.

Kaiden Hammerschmidt dropped down a bunt to move Riederer to second base before Garrett Parker was hit by a pitch. Both Charger runners moved up 90 feet on a wild pitch before Reed Selvey executed a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to plate Riederer to go ahead 1-0.

Still trailing by one, the Bucs got an offensive boost from Parker Meyers, who drilled a leadoff triple into the right-field corner during the bottom of the fourth inning, but Giefer picked him off to thwart the threat.

The Chargers then incorporated two walks into their small-ball strategy to produce three key runs during the top of the fifth inning.

Kaden Peterson drew a one-out walk before taking second base on Brennan Bendix’s sacrifice bunt. Cole Thompson walked before Luke Thompson legged out a slow infield roller, with the ensuing throw sailing high to allow Peterson to cross the plate for a 2-0 lead.

Giefer then assisted his own cause by lofting a fly ball that drifted out of the BEA outfielders’ reach in the right-center gap for a two-run double and 4-0 lead.

The Bucs, however, assembled one late comeback bid during the last of the sixth inning by loading the bases without the benefit of a hit. Logan O’Hara reached on a one-out error, Meyers drew a walk and Nick Barke was hit by a Giefer pitch, but the MVL right-hander escaped unscathed. Giefer utilized his curveball to strike out back-to-back Buc batters looking to turn the home team away empty-handed.

Soren Fering and O’Hara each collected singles for the Bucs to go with Meyers’ triple. Luke Thompson went 2-for-3 to top the Chargers’ four-hit effort.

Carr allowed four runs — only one earned — on four hits, walked four and hit one batter in going the distance to receive the loss.

MVL 010 030 0 — 4 4 1

BEA 000 000 0 — 0 3 1

Josh Giefer (WP) and Kaden Peterson. Anthony Carr (LP) and Carson Sturtz.

LOB–Blue Earth Area 8, Minnesota Valley Lutheran 5. 2B–Josh Giefer (MVL). 3B–Parker Meyers (BEA). SAC–Kaiden Hammerschmidt (MVL), Reed Selvey (MVL) and Brennan Bendix (MVL).

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