Blue Sox fall in extra innings

Failing to score with the bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the ninth led to an extra-inning loss for the Austin Blue Sox on Friday night at Marcusen Park.

The amateur baseball game was a back-and-forth battle between the Blue Earth Pirates and the Blue Sox. The Pirates led 11-10 in the bottom of the ninth, but the Blue Sox tied it. The home team then missed the chance to win the game.

Blue Earth (16-5) came back with two runs in the top of the 10th inning and that was the difference in the 13-11 win.

"We just didn't execute late in the game," Blue Sox player/manager Josh Kunze said. "Still, it's good those situations came up, so the guys will be battle-tested for the playoffs."

Weston Hanson was the starting pitcher for the Blue Sox and he was victimized by some shoddy defense in the first inning. The Blue Sox committed two errors in the opening frame and that led to a run for the Pirates.


The Blue Sox answered right back with a run in the bottom of the first. Casey Toops hit a leadoff double and later scored on a single by Craig Selk.

After the Pirates scored a run in the top of the third to take back the lead, the Blue Sox countered with three runs in the bottom of the inning. Selk and Dan Swift singled, then Duell Higbe was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

Marty Dick followed with an RBI single to again tie the game. Kunze gave the Blue Sox the lead with a sacrifice fly and Brandon Rector capped the rally with a run-scoring single. But the Blue Sox couldn't shake the pesky Pirates.

Down by a 5-4 margin in the top of the seventh, the visitors scored five runs. Brandon Hesser had replaced Hanson on the hill in the sixth inning and he would take the loss. Yet, at this point of the contest there would be plenty of more runs still to be scored.

"It's important for Weston and Brandon to pitch with the regular defense behind them, but we didn't make the key plays in the field," Kunze said. "There were too many walks and we gave up too many free bases with all the errors. The little things add up in a loss."

Despite facing a four-run deficit in the eighth inning, the Blue Sox hitters didn't quit. Brady Klingfus reached base on a fielder's choice with one out to start a rally. Higbe then belted a shot to the right-field corner and the ball rolled under the fence for a ground-rule double.

With two runners in scoring position, Dick hit into a groundout to score Klingfus. Kunze then laced his third straight double to plate Higbe. Mark Harber followed with an RBI single and the Blue Sox were back within a run.

"I'd been struggling in recent games at the plate, so I tried to keep my weight back and wait for the right pitches to hit," Kunze said. "I got ahead in the count, which allowed me to sit on some pitches and drive them to the gaps."


Hesser managed to work his way out of a jam in the top of the ninth and this set the stage for the tying rally. Toops got things started in the bottom of the ninth with a leadoff single. Darin Wagner next singled and Selk drove in Toops with another single.

An error on the hit by Selk allowed both runners to move up a base. Swift was then intentionally walked to load the bases.

It appeared the Sox were a lock to win the game, but Higbe hit a grounder and Wagner was out on the force play at the plate. Dick next hit into a 6-4-3 inning ending double play and rally was over.

The missed opportunity gave the Pirates another chance and they capitalized.

Mat Willner hit a one-out triple to ignite the winning rally for the visitors. A sacrifice fly plated the go-ahead run and the Pirates added another for insurance. The Blue Sox couldn't mount a rally in the bottom of the 10th and lost in front of the home fans.


Blue Earth 13, Blue Sox 11

Blue Earth .......#101#020#520#2#—#13#17#1


Blue Sox .....#103#100#231#0#—#11#20#6

Blue Earth Pirates:Cody Sukalski 3-for-6, walk, 2B, SB, 3 runs, 3 RBI; Aaron Wendt 2-for-4, 2 walks, 2B, 2 runs; Kane Malo 2-for-5, walk, 3B, run, RBI; Daniel Woodall 1-for-5, 2B, run, RBI; Mat Willner 2-for-6, 3B, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Forest Passer 0-for-2, 4 walks, SB, 3 runs.

WP:Malo 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 K. SP: Wendt 7 IP, 7 R, 7 ER, 13 H, 3 BB, 1 HB, 9 K. RP: Sukalski 1 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 1 K.

Austin Blue Sox:Casey Toops 2-for-7, 2B, 2 runs; Darin Wagner 2-for-5, walk, run; Craig Selk 4-for-6, run, 2 RBI; Dan Swift 2-for-4, 2B, walk, run, RBI; Brady Klingfus 0-for-1, run; Duell Higbe 1-for-4, HBP, walk, 2B, 3 runs; Marty Dick 1-for-6, 2 RBI; Josh Kunze 3-for-4, walk, 3 2B, 2 runs, 3 RBI; Brandon Rector 2-for-3, RBI; Mark Harber 2-for-2, walk, 2 RBI; Preston Higbe 1-for-3.

LP:Brandon Hesser 5 IP, 9 R, 8 ER, 13 H, 5 BB, 3 K. SP: Weston Hanson 5 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 H, 4 BB, 10 K.

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