VIRGINIA — Ely’s American Legion squad plated three runs in the first inning and made it hold up Thursday in a 3-2 win over Virginia.
“That turned out to be pretty big scoring those three early,’’ according to Ely head coach Tom Coombe, whose team had a chance for a couple more but left two on base.
Virginia rebounded to make it 3-2 in the bottom of the second thanks to two Ely errors.
In the second, Post 239’s Ryan Hujanen reached on an error and Grant Phillips and Daniel Moore were each walked before Mason Carlson stepped to the plate. A short time later, a wild pitch allowed to Hujanen to come home with Virginia’s first run.
Four batters later with Landin McCarty at the plate and the bases loaded, the Ely catcher made an errant throw to first, which allowed Virginia’s second run to come home.
The Ely lead was cut to 3-2 after two complete innings, and the contest quickly turned into a pitching exhibition.
Virginia pitcher Hujanen put down 15 of 16 batters from the second inning through the sixth and Ely used several pitchers to get the job done.
“Give credit to their pitcher,’’ Coombe said. “I think he retired 13 or 14 in a row at one point. He got very tough. We were luckuy we scored when we did.’’
Hujanen ended the game with six strikeouts in six innings of work. He also allowed three earned runs on four hits and one walk.
Post 239 head coach Kodi Lindgren was proud of his team and his pitcher.
“Ryan (Hujanen) pitched a hell of a game and Landin (McCarty) caught both games and that takes a lot of out someone.’’
“After that first inning, he was dealing,’’ Lindgren said of Hujanen. “He was in the game. He was fired up.’’ After three Ely runs came across in the first, “I told him to keep doing his job.’’ He was doing his job, but Ely kept getting dinky little hits, he added.
Coombe agreed with Lindgren’s assessment. He said his club had a couple balls find some holes, while Virginia had some errors in the field. “We were able to capitalize, and like I said, it turned out to be the difference in the ball game.’’
With Hujanen keeping Ely off the board for a five-inning stretch, Virginia couldn’t take advantage. In two innings there were at least two runners left on base and in two others the home team was three up and three down.
Virginia was at a disadvantage in the seventh after one of its players was ejected after complaining a call. The short-handed defense (only eight players) kept Ely off the board heading to the bottom of the frame down 3-2.
Having only eight players meant Virginia had to start batting in the seventh with one out. Ely’s Dalton Schreffler fanned the first Virginia batter for the second out before Ryan Scherf reached on an error. Schreffler then closed out the Ely win with a strikeout, which earned him the save in the contest.
Ely starting pitcher Trevor Mattson notched the victory after going three innings and giving up 2 runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks. Two other pitchers also threw for the visitors.
“We have the (Sir G’s) tournament coming up this weekend so we tried to piece something together so we didn’t wear anybody out,’’ Coombe said. “It worked out nice.’’
The Ely coach said his team has four games this weekend and plays again Monday and Tuesday.
“We’re in a seven-game, six-day stretch. To be able to piece something together tonight hopefully that pays dividends for us the rest of the way.’’
Despite the loss, Lindgren was happy with how his team played.
“First of all, I just want to say I’m proud of my guys. We had nine guys for two games (Junior and Senior Legion) and they played both games and they never gave up.’’
For Ely, Will Davies, Matt Schultz, Tyler Housey and Schreffler each had hits. Schultz added one RBI.
For Virginia, Scherf went 2-for-4, while McCarty and Nick Peters each added base knocks.
Virginia (5-8) hosts Grand Marais on Monday. Ely’s Sir G’s Classic begins Friday and runs through Sunday in Ely and Soudan (Saturday only).
JUNIOR AMERICAN LEGION
Ely 2, F/5
At Virginia, Post 239 plated 10 runs in the first inning and cruised to a 15-2 victory over Ely in five innings.
Nick Peters led Virginia with three hits (including a double) and four RBI, while Ryan Hujanen cracked two doubles and added three steals. Landin McCarty connected for two hits and one RBI, Mason Carlson tallied two RBI, Logan Nordby had an RBI single and Cole Schaefer added a hit and a steal.
Ely was paced by Mason Davis, Bryce Fairchild and Logan Loe, each with one hit.
On the mound, Daniel Moore earned the win after going the distance. He fanned six Ely batters, walked two and gave up two runs (none earned) on three hits. Ely’s Jacob Towley took the loss after giving up eight earned runs on three hits and four walks.