Stingy Wolves reach finals; Ely pitchers dominate with three shutouts in four straight wins

Connecting for a key hit - Ely’s Tyler Hoousey has been swinging a hot bat for the Wolves. Photo by Joe Bianco

by Tom Coombe -

Pitching and defense are baseball’s most potent winning combination.
That was on display this week by the Ely Timberwolves, who stormed back through the elimination bracket with four straight wins to earn the program’s sixth Section 7A title game berth in nine season.
Senior lefty Trevor Mattson blanked Carlton on four hits in a 3-0 Wednesday night win at Duluth’s Wade Stadium.
The victory sent the Wolves on to meet defending 7A champion South Ridge, in a matchup - also at Wade - completed after the Echo’s deadline.
Since stumbling May 28 in a 6-5 loss to North Woods, the Wolves’ pitching and defense have been nearly impenetrable.
Three of the four wins have come by shutout with Mattson and juniors Bryce Longwell and Dalton Schreffler all pitching gems.
Schreffler also took a shutout into the seventh in an 8-3 victory over Cherry May 30 at Proctor.
“If you don’t let your opponent score you’re going to win a lot of baseball games,” said Ely Head Coach Frank Ivancich. “Our pitchers have really stepped up during this run and we have played very, very well in the field. If you pitch and play defense you put yourself in a position to win a championship and that’s exactly what we have done.”
Ely (18-6) needed a win in Thursday’s first game against the Panthers (19-4) to set up a winner-take-all showdown for the title.
The teams are familiar foes, with the Wolves beating South Ridge in the 2016 7Atitle game and the following year in the elimination round. The Panthers returned the favor in 2018, knocking Ely out of the tournament in a semifinal upset.
“We’ve been here before but so have they,” Ivancich said. “We just have to keep doing what we’ve been doing, playing good fundamental baseball and doing the little things right that win ballgames.”
Wednesday, the Wolves made their second bus trip to Duluth in as many days and rode the pitching of Mattson.
The senior struggled in the playoff loss to North Woods eight days earlier, but was locked in against the Bulldogs.
Mattson fanned six batters in the first three innings and didn’t allow a hit until the fourth.
He also gave himself the only run he would need, lifting a single to left that drove in Tyler Housey with a third-inning run.
Schreffler, who had two hits, beat out an infield single in the fourth and later scored on a wild pitch.
Nils DeRemee knocked in an insurance run in the sixth, but the Wolves misfired on several chances to put Carlton away, stranding 11 runners.
Mattson, who allowed four hits, walked two batters in the seventh but escaped further damage with two groundouts and his ninth strikeout of the night.
The day before, Schreffler had it in cruise control against Cook County.
The righthander blanked the Vikings on just four hits and relied on nifty defense.
Ely turned a pair of double plays while Housey chased down a ball in left field to quell a potential Vikings’ scoring chance.
Housey also propelled the Wolves with his bat, finishing with three hits including a two-run double.
Mattson set the tone in the first inning, lining a two-run single that gave the Wolves an early edge.
• The Wolves reached the final four of the tournament with two solid outings May 30 at Proctor.
Ely opened by eliminating Cherry 8-3 as Schreffler scattered seven hits, struck out seven and walked only one. DeRemee stoked the offense with two hits and two runs batted in, and the Wolves jumped out to an early 4-0 edge.
Longwell added two hits and freshman Mason Davis had two hits with a run batted in and a run scored.
In the nightcap, Ely avenged a late-season defeat to Nashwauk-Keewatin and eliminated the Spartans 3-0.
Longwell tossed a gem, allowing six hits and issuing no walks while going the distance.
Sophomore Lane Anderson was two-for-two with a run scored and an RBI, while Tjae Banks and Schreffler added two hits each.
• The 7A champion will advance to the State Class A Tournament, which starts Thursday, June 13 at the Mini Met in Jordan. Ely already has four state tournament berths this decade, advancing in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017.