Ely crashes hard in Final Four

Esko, Eveleth knock Senior Babe team out of playoffs

A cold day at the plate and a few defensive breakdowns brought Ely’s Senior Babe Ruth (Legion) baseball season to an abrupt halt.
After losing just twice in 20 contests, Ely fell twice in a matter of hours Saturday at Aurora, during the Eighth District Division II Final Four.
Esko scored nine runs in the last three innings to prevail 10-1 in a winners’ bracket tilt, while Eveleth scored six runs in the top of the sixth to rally for a 7-3 victory in the elimination bracket.
Ely, which finished 18-4, scored only four runs on the day after exploding for 15 runs and 17 hits just two days earlier.
On defense, Ely committed six errors in a disastrous sixth inning against Eveleth.
“It was the wrong time to have a bad day,” said Ely Head Coach Tom Coombe. “We had played so well, but things just snowballed on Saturday. It was one thing after another.”
Ely couldn’t solve Esko ace Noah Furcht in the opener.
The righthander, a senior-to-be who is already attracting major college attention, held Ely to one hit in six innings of work with six strikeouts.
Ely’s Cam McRoberts matched Furcht for four innings, with Dalton Schreffler drawing a walk and scoring on a Ryan Quick groundout to tie the game at one in the bottom of the fourth.
Things unraveled quickly in the fifth.
With runners at the corners and two outs, Ely’s Zach Cheney made a diving play at third, but his throw to first eluded Trevor Mattson and Esko took the lead.
An error prolonged the inning and a base hit followed to make it 5-1.
Esko plated five more runs in the last two frames to pull away.
The winners made full use of their seven hits. Three were infield singles.
Ely managed only two hits - by Tjae Banks and Bralyn Lislegard.
The loss set up Ely’s fourth game of the season with Eveleth.
After three lopsided wins by Ely, Eveleth turned the tables and advanced to Monday’s title game.
A two-run single by Will Davies brought in Dalton Schreffler and Trevor Mattson and Ely took a 2-1 lead in the second.
In the fourth, Davies doubled and scored on a Banks sacrifice fly.
Mattson was cruising along through five innings, and had retired seven straight batters before disaster struck in the sixth.
Back-to-back fly balls were dropped in the outfield to start the trouble.
After a walk loaded the bases, an errant pick off throw and another throwing error tied the game at three.
Two more errors followed a strikeout and made it 5-3, and Andrew Torrel doubled to left to make it 6-3.
A stolen base and another throwing error added to the margin.
“We were obviously rattled in the sixth,” said Coombe. “There were three throwing errors in the inning alone and you just don’t see that. They took momentum and really seized on it.”
Winning pitcher Brandon Lind took over from there, working the complete game and tossing a five-hitter.
Two were by Davies. while Schreffler, Mattson and Nils DeRemee all had on hit.
Mattson gave up one earned run while scattering seven hits with three strikeouts.
The losses ended an Ely season that seemed doubtful during the spring, because of the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent cancellation of the American Legion season.
Ely joined nearly all of the other Eighth District Legion teams and played under an independent umbrella this summer.
“It was about a normal a season as we could have had given the circumstances,” said Coombe. “We played 22 games, hosted a couple of tournaments and had a playoff experience at the end. It would have been a shame to have no baseball this summer and these guys made coming to the ballpark fun everyday.”
Barring a change in American Legion baseball rules, Saturday’s loss ended the Ely Legion career of several players: Housey, DeRemee, Mattson, Quick, Banks, Lislegard and Danny Crockett.
“These guys have contributed a lot to our program,” said Coombe. “Add it up and we’re losing over 20 seasons of experience. They got to play in a state tournament at home and most of them were part of high school teams that went to state. They’ve played a ton of baseball, won a lot of games and made a lot of friends and memories. It’s hard to see any group move on , this one especially.”