Furnstahl, VFW top Virginia
Ely’s VFW baseball team is off to a strong start in conference play.After wins over Eveleth and Babbitt-Embarrass-Soudan-Tower the week before, Post 2717 maintained its perfect record in the Border Area Wednesday with a 9-4 win at Virginia.Nick Furnstahl led the way, tossing a six-hitter with six strikeouts and contributing two hits and four runs batted in at the plate.It was the only win of the week for the Ely team (5-3), which lost the second game of the twinbill with Virginia and was swept Monday by unbeaten Hibbing.But the victory at Virginia kept Ely atop the Border Area standings (only the first games of doubleheaders count in league play) and Post 2717 bounced back after a rough afternoon and evening against Hibbing.Ely struck right away, with Jake Ojala smacking a two-run single to help his team to a 3-0 lead after one inning. Ernie Horvat tripled and scored in the second, and Furnstahl’s two-run single in the third extended the gap to 6-0.That was enough for Furnstahl, who took a shutout into the fourth and allowed no earned runs. He also had good control, walking only two batters.Both Ojala and Paul Starkovich added two hits for Ely.In the second game, Matt High was the losing pitcher and Tyler Willis was two-for-two at the plate.Ely ran into one of the leading contenders for the Eighth District crown Monday at Veterans Memorial Field.Visiting Hibbing got a dominating performance from pitcher Mike Shain in the opener. The hard-throwing righthanders fanned 14 Ely batters and scattered six hits in the shutout.Hibbing chipped away against Starkovich, who got the loss, scoring seven runs in the last three innings to pull away.“We didn’t play that bad, but everything they hit fell in,” said Ely Head Coach Jim Wittrup. “Hopefully when we play them again it will be a little different.”Richards had two hits at the plate for Ely.Ely had its hitting shoes on in game two, pounding out 16 safeties in the contest. But after building an early 6-3 lead, the roof caved in on the home team. Hibbing took advantage of many Ely errors and rallied for the 22-9 triumph.Furnstahl, Richards and Eric Urbas collected three hits apiece for Ely. Starkovich and Jay Olson both finished with two hits.Richards was tagged with the loss, while Horvat pitched in relief.Ely took part in a 12-team tournament in Duluth over the weekend, and hosts its own tourney this weekend (see related story).