Ely, BEST set for showdown

by Tom Coombe

The last time they met, high school baseball rivals Ely and Babbitt-Embarrass-Soudan-Tower combined for 37 runs, 29 hits and three hours of playoff drama.<BR><BR>The Timberwolves and the Beavers are in different playoff divisions this spring and with ace pitchers Josh Weckman and Josh Mathson set to meet on the mound, it's doubtful there will be as much offense in Tuesday night's (7 p.m.) game at Veterans Memorial Field.<BR><BR>But both teams are likely to bring a full supply of intensity to the Arrowhead Conference game, the only scheduled meeting between the two teams this year.<BR><BR>Both the Wolves and the two-time defending Section 7A champion Beavers head into the game on the heels of strong starts.<BR><BR>Ely is 5-1, including a pair of wins last week fueled by dominating pitching efforts by Weckman and Tim Scott.<BR><BR>BEST has won five straight and six of seven this spring with Mathson, who has more home runs (26) than any player in Minnesota prep history, leading the way with a 3-0 pitching record and a .471 batting average.<BR><BR>According to Ely Head Coach Frank Ivancich, the matchup is one the Wolves are looking forward to.<BR><BR>"It should be a great atmosphere for a high school baseball game and it's a game we're looking forward to," said Ivancich. "You'll have two good teams going at it. Two very good pitchers. It should be a good game for us to be a part of."<BR><BR>Tuesday's contest is the first between the two teams since last May 29, when BEST outslugged Ely 20-17 in a Section 7A playoff tilt.<BR><BR>And though the Wolves gave up 20 runs in one game against the Beavers, they've been very stingy ever since. yielding only 20 runs in their first six games of 2004.<BR><BR>Weckman and Scott have been a big reason why.<BR><BR>Thursday, Weckman was on the hill as Ely downed Mt. Iron-Buhl 10-1 on a chilly spring evening.<BR><BR>The senior ran his record to 3-0 for the spring, tossing a two-hitter and getting plenty of help from his defense.<BR><BR>Weckman had four strikeouts, but the Wolves' fielded nearly everything else that came off the Rangers' bats.<BR><BR>Catcher David Urbas also helped out, throwing out would-be base stealer Matt Niskanen to help cut down an MIB threat in the opening stanza.<BR><BR>The Rangers pushed across a run to take a 1-0 lead, but that was the extent of their offense.<BR><BR>"David's throw was big," said Ivancich. "They ended up getting a run on a sacrifice fly, but the throw helped get us out of a jam."<BR><BR>Ely tied it in the bottom of the first as Kevin Pope doubled and scored on an Aaron Thom groundout.<BR><BR>The Wolves manufactured two runs after a pair of walks to take a 3-1 lead in the third.<BR><BR>The fourth inning proved to be the Rangers' undoing, as three errors helped prolong the frame and Ely scored five times.<BR><BR>Jeff Kotzian started the rally with a double, while two walks and two errors kept Wolves runners moving around the basepaths.<BR><BR>Cory Lassi, who had two doubles and two runs batted in, brought home a run in the fifth and Drew Hanson singled in a run in the sixth.<BR><BR>Lassi and Hanson paced the Ely offense with two hits. Dan Lanari took the loss for MIB, 0-5.<BR><BR>Ely 6, Two Harbors 1<BR><BR>Scott fired a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts, and the Wolves won Wednesday's thunderstorm-shortened nonconference game.<BR><BR>The Agates grabbed an early 1-0 lead, but the Wolves tied it in the fourth as Weckman and Tony Carlson walked. Urbas moved them over with a bunt and Kotzian brought home Weckman with a sacrifice fly.<BR><BR>Ely opened the floodgates in the fifth, sending 11 men to the plate and scoring five times.<BR><BR>Thom had a run-scoring hit and Lassi drove in two with a double, and three consecutive Wolves were hit by pitches during the uprising.<BR><BR>Scott, meanwhile, allowed only a single to the Agates' Casey Morsette and walked just two batters.<BR><BR>Paul Cavallin was tagged with the loss for Two Harbors.<BR><BR>The game was called in the top of the sixth after a thunderstorm swept through town.<BR><BR>&#149; The Wolves have a busy week.<BR><BR>In addition to Tuesday's game with BEST, Ely plays host to Greenway, a Section 7AA school, at 4:30 p.m. today.<BR><BR>Ely is at Silver Bay Friday and defending 7AA champion Hermantown Saturday.