Playoffs loom for Legion

Saturday’s 1:30 opener kicks off substate tournament in Ely

A stop-and-start regular season is ending and the playoffs are next for Ely’s American Legion baseball team.
Post 248 hosted Cook County Thursday, after deadline, to close out a disjointed sprint of a campaign that has included a slew of postponements.
Ely (7-8) will finish with the fewest amount of regular season games played in decades and playoff action starts Saturday at Veterans Memorial Field.
A 1:30 p.m. game, against either Two Harbors or Cook County, kicks off postseason action for Ely in the Division II Northeast Substate Tournament.
Top-seeded Aurora joins Ely, Two Harbors and Cook County in the four-team northern pod in the 17-team substate.
Win or lose, Ely plays twice today and could have one more game on Sunday. Two wins this weekend are needed in order for the hosts to move on to the next round, set for Wednesday at the local ballpark.
The tournament then resumes July 23 with the title game slated for July 24, all in Ely.
Both Tuesday’s road game at Taconite, and Sunday’s Sir G’s Midsummer Classic finale against International Falls were rained out - the latest in a pile of cancellations this summer for Ely.
Before the rains came, the hosts got strong pitching but a lack of clutch hitting while going 1-2 in the nine-team home tournament.
The highlight came Saturday night when Logan Loe struck out a season-high 11 batters and Ely, despite leaving a whopping 14 runners on base, defeated district rival Esko 7-2.
Loe gave up just one hit while gaining his second win of the summer, and retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced.
Drew Marolt swung a hot bat for the winners, smacking a two-run single in the first to put his team in front to stay and finishing with three hits for the evening.
Freshman Caid Chittum also went three-for-three, with two runs batted in, while sophomore Deegan Richards added two hits with two RBI.
Catcher Chase Sandberg had two hits and scored twice for Ely, which scored twice in the first and three times in the third inning to take control.
Esko’s only runs came in the fourth.
Earlier in the day, Ely spoiled a strong pitching performance by Marolt, falling 3-1 to Cloquet.
The hosts had their opportunities but couldn’t cash in, while Marolt gave up four hits and struck out six in the loss.
In the tournament opener, Zach Cheney struck out 14 batters but Ely lost 3-1 to Proctor in eight innings.
The visitors tied it up with an unearned run in the sixth and scored twice in the eighth with the help of two Ely errors.
Marolt doubled in Cheney to put Ely up 1-0 in the fourth, but the hosts stranded 10 runners in the game, leaving runners in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and seventh frames.
The Sir G’s Classic featured five extra-inning games and was won by Viroqua (Wis.), which survived extra-inning scares from both Proctor and Wadena on Saturday.
Roseau, coached by former Elyite Josh Weckman, beat Esko in extra innings and downed International Falls 5-4 but fell 5-1 to Viroqua.
• Aurora scored twice in the top of the seventh and pulled out a 6-4 win in a July 7 matchup at Veterans Memorial Field.
Ely left the bases loaded in both the sixth and seventh innings. Both Sandberg and Preston Hines had two hits for Ely.