Junior Legion riding a wave
With playoffs starting at home, Ely on 13-game winning streak
by Tom Coombe
As the playoffs begin, you can’t get any hotter than Ely’s Junior Legion baseball team.
Post 248 hasn’t lost since June 10 and has won 13 straight contests heading into the Division II Northeast Substate Playoffs, which start Sunday at Veterans Memorial Field.
Ely, now 13-2, figures to be either the first or second seed when the tournament begins.
The eight-team event continues Tuesday, with the Veterans Night ceremony at the ballpark, and then resumes Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30.
The winner moves on to the state tournament at Granite Falls in early-August.
Ely figures to battle it out with defending substate champion Esko as well as Barnum-Moose Lake-Willow River for the substate title.
Esko, which did not play Ely during the regular season, has a handful of starters from the Esko high school team that won the Class AA state title and will be the team to beat if at full strength.
Ely, meanwhile, could be primed for an upset and continues to click.
Post 248 swept a doubleheader with Barnum-Moose Lake-Willow River on July 13, rallying to win the opener 9-8 at Veterans Memorial Field.
Ely cruised 8-1 in the second game.
Some heroics were needed in the opener, as an early 5-0 Ely lead went by the wayside and the hosts needed three runs in the bottom of the seventh to pull things out.
After cutting the lead to one, Jack Davies singled to tie the game and a BMW throwing error allowed the winning run to score.
That made a winner of relief pitcher Brecken Sandberg, who struck out three and gave up three hits in two innings of relief.
Starter Hunter Halbakken worked the first five frames, yielding four hits with five strikeouts.
Louie Panichi had two hits for the winners, while Deegan Richards, Blake Schaller and Ben Leeson all drove in runs. Davies scored twice.
In the nightcap, three Ely pitchers - Talen Jarshaw, Panichi and Drew Johnson - combined to hold down BMW.
Jarshaw went the first three-and-two-thirds, allowing four hits with five strikeouts. Panichi fanned five in two-and-a-third and Johnson tossed a scoreless seventh.
Johnson also had a run-scoring double while Panichi had two hits including a double with two runs scored and two RBI.
Shortstop Caid Chittum contributed two hits with two runs scored and Owen Marolt doubled.