14 up, 14 down for Ely Legion
Ely’s American Legion baseball team maintained its perfect record last week, and inched closer to making Ely baseball history in the process.Thursday’s 5-1 win over Marble gave Post 248 a perfect 14-0 mark for the summer, and a 15-game streak that extends back to last year’s state tournament third-place game.And while the 2004 club already is off to the best start in Ely Legion history, it needs one more win to tie and two to break the program record for consecutive wins. The 2001 team, which went 31-4 and placed third in the State Division II Tournament, rattled off 16 straight wins.The team went for the record over the weekend, when it hosted Cloquet, Chisholm and Virginia in the Ely Midsummer Classic.Ely showed no signs of slowing down in the victory over Marble - before a larger than usual crowd at Veterans Memorial Field - or in Monday’s doubleheader sweep of Hibbing.Nevertheless, Ely still has several difficult opponents on its docket, and it will most likely need a win Thursday - when rival Nashwauk-Keewatin comes to town - to secure the top seed for the Eighth District playoffs.“The streak is nice and it really is a heck of an accomplishment, given some of the tough teams we’ve played already,” said Ely Head Coach Tom Coombe. “But we can’t get too caught up in it. If we lose, it’s not the end of the world and we can’t let the streak divert our attention.”Strong pitching and defense have carried Ely thus far.Brodeen scattered seven hits and the only run he allowed against Marble was unearned.And through 14 games, Ely pitchers have compiled a 2.31 earned run average while the defense has been stingy.Ely was outhit 7-4 by Marble, but still managed to scrape five runs out against losing pitcher Brandon Ekholm.“If you pitch and play defense you always have a chance,” said Coombe. “That’s been the key for us. Even on nights we haven’t hit, we’re not giving up many runs so we’re always in the game.”After the weekend tournament, Ely is at Brookston Wednesday (6 p.m.), with Nashwauk-Keewatin here the following night (7 p.m.). Saturday, Ely hosts West Duluth in a doubleheader (1 p.m.) at Soudan.Ely 5, Marble 1Brodeen worked his way out of several jams and picked up his second win of the summer.After an error allowed Marble to score in the second, Brodeen stranded a pair of runners.Two more were left on in the third, while in the fourth, Marble loaded the bases with one out before Brodeen coaxed a pair of outs to end the threat.Ely finally broke loose in the bottom of the fourth.A double by Josh Weckman and walks to Ben Barnes and Brodeen filled the bases, and David Urbas followed with a single that put Ely ahead 2-1.Kevin Pope followed with another run-scoring hit, and Josh Mathson drove in a run on a groundout. An error allowed the last run to score.Earlier, Aaron Thom doubled in a run for Ely.Ely 9-9, Hibbing 3-4Monday’s twinbill featured more solid pitching and stellar defense, and some timely hitting by Post 248.Weckman scattered eight hits in the first game and was backed by big plays in the field from Pope (shortstop), Thom (center field) and Tony Carlson (right field).Pope staked Weckman to an early lead with a two-run second-inning single. Thom added a two-run double later in the frame while Mathson’s two-run homer in the fourth - his sixth round-tripper of the season - cemented the advantage.Thom, Weckman and Joel Dostert all had two hits in Ely’s 11-hit attack.Mathson came on in relief of Tim Scott and worked four innings to get the win in the nightcap.Scott kept Ely close early on and then did some damage with his bat, smashing three hits - including a two-run triple in the seventh.Trailing 3-2, Ely tied it in the fifth when Thom tripled to center. He scored on the play when the relay throw got past the third baseman.Thom added two hits for Ely, and Scott scored twice and drove in three runs. Mathson raised his record to 4-0 on the mound.