Pitching fuels a perfect start

Ely wins three straight to open year; Crockett flirts with no-hitter

Pitching is perhaps the most important aspect of any baseball team.
Early in what will be an abbreviated summer season, pitching has been the difference maker for Ely in Senior Babe Ruth Baseball.
Quality starts on the mound by Bryce Longwell, Danny Crockett and Dalton Schreffler have lifted the team representing Ely Legion Post 248 to a perfect 3-0 start.
Longwell worked six shutout innings on the mound in Tuesday’s home debut, a 9-1 win over Eveleth-Gilbert, while Crockett came within an out of a no-hitter as Ely picked up a 5-1, June 26 win at Grand Marais.
Ely also helped break in the new artificial turf field at Aurora June 25, with Schreffler effective for four innings in a 9-4 triumph.
The perfect start has been led by the work of a pitching staff that figures to be the strength of the Ely team.
Longwell, Crockett and Schreffler were all key contributors to the pitching staff a year ago, along with fellow returnees Trevor Mattson and Tyler Housey.
“We’ve got a lot of pitching back and in a season like this I think that’s going to be even more important,” said head coach Tom Coombe. “It’s going to take the hitters some time to catch up I think, and having several guys you can count on to throw will be a huge benefit.”
Crockett, who worked primarily in relief in 2019, was a strike away from a gem at Grand Marais.
The righthander, who graduated last month from North Woods, kept the hosts’ off balance with his off-speed pitches and gave up only an unearned run in the first.
Ely scored four times in the top of the sixth to snap a one-all deadlock, with Trevor Mattson’s single to right plating Zach Cheney with the go-ahead run.
Both Longwell and Tjae Banks added run-scoring hits during the rally.
Crockett continued to mow down the opposition and was on the verge of his first no-hitter when Joe Deschampe broke it up with a two-strike, two-out single to left.
One more hit followed and Crockett finished with a two-hitter and five strikeouts in the complete-game victory.
Tuesday, Longwell coaxed two double-play balls and worked out a fourth-inning jam when Eveleth put runners at second and third with one out.
The senior righthander only walked three batters and gave up two hits while striking out five batters.
Ely scored in all but one inning, with Housey leading the way.
The leadoff man reached base four straight times, going three-for-three with two runs scored, two stolen bases and a run batted in.
Eveleth pitchers had difficulty finding the strike zone, with Ely capitalizing on nine walks, two hit batsmen and several wild pitches.
Cheney and Bralyn Lislegard had run-scoring hits for Ely.
In the season-opener at Aurora, Mattson’s bases-clearing triple sparked a four-run third inning and Ely built an early lead.
Mattson finished with five runs batted in, Lislegard scored three runs and Cheney finished with two hits.
Schreffler worked four innings and Longwell went the last three.
• Ely travels to International Falls Tuesday in a tune-up for this weekend’s Sir G’s Midsummer Classic