Skip to main content

Thanks to massive comeback, VFW rallies for second-place

Ely’s VFW baseball team couldn’t hold on to a 5-3 lead and fell 7-5 to North Shore in the July 25 title game of the Border Area playoffs.But one could easily forgive Ely’s players if they found the championship contest to be a bit anticlimactic.The night before, Post 2717 needed an improbable, seemingly impossible comeback just to reach the title tilt.Trailing 13-1 in the seventh inning, Ely scored 12 times against Babbitt-Embarrass-Soudan-Tower to force extra innings, and went on to win 15-14.Ely, listless for six innings, sprung to life in the seventh against BEST and recorded what’s believed to be the biggest comeback in Ely VFW history.In the seventh, Ely sent 18 batters to the plate, with Paul Starkovich getting hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to force in the tying run.Consecutive hits by Matt High, Eric Urbas, Nick Furnstahl and Tyler Willis started the rally, and BEST crumbled on defense as the hosts pulled closer.Ely capitalized on six BEST errors during the inning.And after BEST’s Luke Mathson doubled in a run in the top of the ninth to make it 14-13, Ely came right back in the bottom of the frame.Ely scored once to tie it up, and Elliot Beaty drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk against losing pitcher Billy Tibbetts, bringing in the winning run and capping a rally that won’t soon be forgotten.Furnstahl pitched two innings in relief of Starkovich and picked up his second win of the tournament.Urbas, Tyler Willis and Jay Olson all finished with two hits for Ely.Earlier, BEST built the lead behind the big bat of Robbie Reichensperger, who smashed a grand-slam home run.The contest was the second wild affair between Ely and BEST in the tournament.In a July 24 first-round game, BEST prevailed 10-9 even though it had only three hits.Starkovich walked nine in three and one-third innings, and although Tyler Blomberg’s sixth-inning single was BEST’s first hit of the game, it drove in two runs and tied the contest at five.Hits by Ryan Potter and Billy Tibbetts, along with two costly Ely errors, gave BEST a 10-5 lead.Tibbetts then staved off an Ely rally, yielding four runs in the sixth but escaping the seventh unscathed.Jordan Richards had a big game for Ely, going four-for-four with three runs scored and two runs batted in. Ernie Horvat added three hits.Facing elimination, Ely pounded Virginia 13-3 the next day as Furnstahl scattered six hits in five innings.Jake Ojala’s three-run double was the highlight as Ely pulled away and ended Virginia’s season.The 15-14 game with BEST followed and Ely played well against North Shore in the championship game before the visitors scored four unearned runs in the sixth to pull ahead.Richards took the loss in relief of Furnstahl.Ely, 15-15, opened play Friday in the Eighth District playoffs against Grand Rapids.The 10-team district tournament ran through the weekend and continues today at Hibbing, with the championship team advancing to the state tournament in Alexandria.

Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates