Wolves hope for an encore; Playoffs begin Tuesday
by Tom Coombe
For the Ely Timberwolves, the circumstances are eerily similar.
It was 52 weeks ago that, after an up-and-down regular season, the high school baseball team gelled during the playoffs and made a run all the way to the Section 7A title game.
This year the Wolves head into the postseason, which starts Tuesday at home, in nearly the same situation.
Ely is likely to be seeded third or fourth in the section, and has been inconsistent, particularly at the plate, during the stretch run.
The Wolves bounced back from a loss to Rock Ridge on Monday with a 7-1 home victory over International Falls on Wednesday.
Senior Logan Loe went the distance, tossing a five-hitter with four strikeouts and not allowing an earned run.
Loe anchors a solid Ely pitching staff going into the tournament, which is led by four-time defending 7A champion South Ridge, but the Wolves’ bats will have to warm up if they are to make another deep run.
“Going into our last week of games we can only hope that our luck will change and we can start to deliver in clutch situations and be able to score some runs,” said head coach Frank Ivancich.
Clutch hitting was in short supply Monday, when Ely outhit Class AA section contender Rock Ridge but lost 4-0.
Junior Drew Marolt took the tough-luck loss, giving up only three hits, and the Wolves threatened but did not score in the third, fifth and sixth frames.
The Wolverines took advantage of two Marolt walks in the opening inning and scored all the runs that winning pitcher Dylan Hedley would need.
Ely was a little better at the plate against International Falls, which also plays up
a class in AA and Loe kept the Broncos off the board on the way to the win.
Senior Joey Bianco ignited the Ely offense from the top of the order, ripping three hits and scoring three runs.
Loe, fellow senior Preston Hines and Marolt all had run-scoring hits.
Ely figures to be seeded behind South Ridge, Cherry and perhaps Barnum in the 13-team tournament, which starts Tuesday at home sites and continues into double-elimination play at South Ridge and Cherry Thursday.
The final four and title rounds are set for June 5 and 7, respectively.
Tuesday’s game times will be determined once seeding is finalized this weekend.
• The Wolves won two of three games in the Veterans Memorial Showcase, with two lopsided wins surrounding a tight 4-3 defeat to Cherry.
Loe and the Tigers’ Noah Asuma hooked up in quite a pitching duel, and a two-run double by Marolt helped the Wolves to a 3-1 lead after one inning.
Asuma’s home run closed the gap in the fourth and the Tigers plated the tying and go-ahead runs in the top of the sixth, with Noah Sundquist’s double the key blow.
Ely threatened in the bottom of the seventh but stranded two runners against Asuma, who tossed a complete-game three hitter and fanned seven.
Loe was solid in defeat, allowing seven hits while striking out five.
In a game played before much of the student body May 19, Ely hammered Carlton-Wrenshall 22-4 in five innings.
Loe, Caid Chittum and Jack Davies all had two hits and two runs batted in for the Wolves, who capitalized on numerous walks and errors.
Deegan Richards knocked in three runs and had a two-run double in the contest.
On the mound, Elliot Levens and Davies combined on a two-hitter. Levens struck out three and Davies recorded four strikeouts.
The Wolves banged out 16 hits Saturday in a 21-0, five-inning thrashing of an overmatched St. Paul Harding team.
Chittum’s first career home run, a grand slam, capped a day in which he had four hits and seven RBI.
Hines and Richards scores three runs each, while Levens and Drew Johnson chipped in with two hits. Marolt added at two-run double.
Marolt struck out three in two innings of work, with Johnson and Richards following on the mound.