Wolves step up against stiff competition

by Tom Coombe

A move up to Class AA will force Ely’s high school baseball team to play tougher competition in postseason play.<BR><BR>The Timberwolves beefed up their regular season schedule to coincide with the move, and they experienced the rigors of Class AA ball last week.<BR><BR>Ely won two of three games against AA foes, losing to Hinckley and beating East Central in an April 17 road doubleheader, and outlasting Proctor in nine innings Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Field.<BR><BR>The East Central game was a laugher with Ely rolling to a 19-4 win, but the other two contests were hard-fought affairs.<BR><BR>Hinckley scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to secure a 6-3 victory, while the Wolves needed a Cory Lassi single in the bottom of the ninth to prevail 4-3.<BR><BR>Ely ran its record to 3-1 on the year and is quickly becoming a battle-tested club.<BR><BR>“We’re seeing what Class AA baseball is all about,” said Ely Head Coach Frank Ivancich. “Both the Hinckley and Proctor games were intense, pressure-filled games against two pretty good teams. There are a lot of good teams in Class AA and I think we’ve handled ourselves well.”<BR><BR>The Wolves got a gem of a pitching performance Tuesday from Josh Weckman.<BR><BR>The senior went the distance, scattering nine hits and striking out three, escaping several Proctor run-scoring opportunities. He also had good control, walking just one batter.<BR><BR>“That was the key,” said Ivancich. “Josh didn’t give them any free passes. They had to hit to get on.”<BR><BR>Two runs in the first and a run-scoring single by Lassi in the fifth staked Weckman to a 3-1 lead heading into the seventh, but the Rails weren’t done.<BR><BR>They put runners at second and third with two outs, and scored twice after Weckman’s pick-off attempt at third went over the head of third baseman Colin Moberly.<BR><BR>Ely threatened in the bottom of the seventh but didn’t score, and they finally won it in the ninth. Tim Scott walked, stole second, and went to third on an Aaron Thom single. Lassi came up with the bases loaded and two outs, and the senior lined a single into right for the game-winner.<BR><BR>Ben Carlson allowed five hits and struck out seven in seven and two-thirds innings of work for the Rails, who were paced at the plate by Jake Comnick’s three hits.<BR><BR>Three days earlier, Ely went to Hinckley and met both the host Jaguars as well as neighboring East Central.<BR><BR>The Wolves came out smoking against East Central, scoring five runs in the first, six in the second, four in the third and four in the fourth.<BR><BR>Senior shortstop Kevin Pope went three-for-three with two runs batted in, while Moberly had two hits and three runs batted in. Scott and Carlson both added three RBI, with Thom finishing with three hits and Lassi scoring four times.<BR><BR>Weckman got the win, giving up only one hit in three innings. Sophomore Nick Furnstahl went the last two innings on the mound and the game was called after five because of the 10-run mercy rule.<BR><BR>The nightcap was a much more competitive affair.<BR><BR>The pitchers dominated early, with Ely’s Scott holding Hinckley in check.<BR><BR>The Jaguars scratched out two runs for a 2-0 lead after five, but Ely rallied with two runs in the top of the sixth.<BR><BR>Weckman, who had three hits, started the uprising with a single. Moberly singled him in, and Carlson then delivered the game-tying single.<BR><BR>Hinckley broke the deadlock in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases and then coming up with a bases-clearing double off of Weckman, who relieved Scott.<BR><BR>Scott was tagged with the loss after a performance in which he gave up six hits and struck out nine. He walked six batters.<BR><BR>• Ely and Greenway were rained out last Monday. No makeup date has been announced.<BR><BR>• The Wolves host Two Harbors today and visit Mt. Iron-Buhl Thursday.<BR><BR>