Little things, big victory; Ely baseball team downs South Ridge in rematch of 7A final

SPRAWLING CATCH for Ely infielder Nils DeRemee, one of several young players in the lineup for the high school baseball team. Photo by Eric Sherman

by Tom Coombe -

The Ely Timberwolves won’t overpower their opponents with their pitching staff.
Their starting lineup, filled with sophomores, freshmen and even an eighth-grader, isn’t very imposing.
But for all of its youth, the high school baseball team has some experience and it does many of the “little things” that are part of the intricacies of the game.
That’s a big reason why the Timberwolves won Wednesday’s rematch of last year’s section title game.
After a leadoff single by Tyler Housey, the Wolves laid down two good bunts, and South Ridge misplayed them both to allow the hosts to prevail 7-6 in eight innings at Veterans Memorial Field.
Ely, which evened its record at 3-3, got a break when South Ridge (7-2) muffed a bunt laid down by Trevor Mattson.
That put runners at first and second with nobody out and led to another bunt, this one by Dalton Schreffler. This time, the throw to first went into right field and Housey scored the winning run.
Just an inning before, the Wolves dodged a bullet when freshman second baseman Nils DeRemee noticed that a South Ridge player missed second base on a game-tying base hit. The appeal erased the potential winning run from third base and Ely escaped further damage.
Winning pitcher Joey Pierce, an eighth-grader, shut down the Panthers in the eighth and the Wolves went to work in the bottom of the frame.
“We did a lot of little things well, which allowed us to win the baseball game,” said Ely Head Coach Frank Ivancich. “Getting those bunts down in the eighth was huge, and the appeal the inning before got us out of a jam. Really, everyone in our lineup contributed.”
The Wolves had 12 hits, including a three-for-three performance by Housey.
Pierce, Gage Merhar and Thomas Montana all singled in runs in the second inning, while Mark Killoran’s two-run single in the third put the Wolves on top 6-3.
Junior Carter Gaulke, called on to start when an elbow injury shelved Merhar, was effective on the hill.
The righthander worked six innings, allowed four hits and struck out nine.
The Panthers’ Mark Lisic, however, got to Gaulke with a two-run fifth-inning homer that trimmed the lead to 6-5.
Gaulke left after six innings because of high school pitch count regulations, and South Ridge tied the game on Joey Janke’s seventh-innng double.
Ely stranded the potential game-winning run in the seventh but took advantage of its chances in the eighth
Killoran, Montana and Dalton Schreffler all had two hits for the Wolves, who got an effective outing on the mound as well.
“Carter really stepped up on short notice and pitched very well,” said Ivancich. “He battled some control issues at times but fought through those and got some big outs.”
The game was Ely’s first in eight days and followed a recent string of rainy weather and even some snow.
Mother Nature’s interference has put the Wolves into a scheduling bind.
Thursday, they hosted Littlefork then got on a bus and went to Mt. Iron-Buhl to complete a rare home-road split twinbill.
A trip to Cook County follows Saturday, while Monday’s home tilt with Chisholm (4:30 p.m.) is part of a four-game week that also includes home dates with Northeast Range (Tuesday) and Silver Bay (Friday).
The Wolves host the fourth annual, eight-team Veterans Memorial Showcase May 19-20.