Blue Sox season ends with shutout loss

WILLMAR — A pitcher's duel can sometimes be decided without the benefit of an earned run and that was the case for the Austin Blue Sox in the Class B State Amateur Baseball Tournament.

Blue Sox pitcher Nels Nelson went the distance on the mound and allowed only one hit with no earned runs, but still lost on Saturday night. The Shakopee Indians scored an unearned run in the bottom of the fourth inning and that was enough for a 1-0 win.

Only one time did the Blue Sox even get a runner into scoring position as Shakopee pitcher Dane Secott scattered four hits in the win. Secott finished with seven strikeouts and Nelson had six strikeouts in the low scoring affair.

"We had a good hitting lineup in there, so give credit to their guy, he pitched a great game," Blue Sox player/manager Josh Kunze said. "Maybe, we pressed at the plate too much, but Secott made some good pitches. He had our left-handed hitters off-balance the whole game."

Matt Raso, the draftee from the Austin Greyhounds, had two of the four hits for the Blue Sox. Raso singled with one out in the top of the second, but was left aboard. He also singled with one out in the sixth, then was replaced by pinch runner Brandon Rector, who was eliminated from the base paths on a fielder's choice.


In the bottom of the fourth, Troy Wasiloski of Shakopee reached base with one out on a passed ball. Nelson got Wasiloski to go down swinging, but the ball skipped past the catcher Raso on the third strike and the Indians had a base runner.

After a pop-up, Nelson hit Kyle Hoover with an inside pitch. Hoover crowded the plate throughout the night and was hit three times by Nelson. This time it proved costly as Brannon Weigel followed with a single to plate the only run of the game.

"This was a battle of two good teams, and they're going to make you beat them," Nelson said. "I felt pretty good on the mound, but that one batter kept crowding the plate and I got the ball too far inside on him. Sometimes, you can pitch great and still lose."

The best scoring chance of the night for the Blue Sox came in the top of the fifth. Kyle Young stroked a lead-off single and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kunze. But a pair of groundouts followed and Young was left stranded at third base.

Nelson continued to pitch well and kept his team in the hunt by setting down the Indians. He struck out two batters and retired the side down in order in the bottom of the fifth.

An error opened the door to a possible rally for the Indians in the sixth inning, but the Blue Sox defense responded with a double play to end the threat.

"My defense took away a few of their potential hits and helped me get out of a couple of jams," Nelson said. "The guys picked me up in the field and we kept it close. Their pitcher just kept our hitters in check, and they're the defending state champs for a reason."

Pitching and defense were the two main reasons the defending champs advanced to the next round. Secott retired the last seven batters he faced and ended the Blue Sox season.


The final at-bat for the Blue Sox started with a pair of groundouts from Aaron Port and Craig Selk. Dan Swift, a dangerous power hitter, was the last hope for Austin. Swift got a couple of good cuts, but in the end his fly out to left field was the last act of the summer for the Blue Sox.

"Nels pitched well enough to win, but we didn't give him any run support," Kunze concluded. "If we had gotten by this first game, then we were set up pretty well pitching-wise for the rest of the tournament. We just didn't get there for the second straight year, and some good teams go home."

Austin Blue Sox finished the season with a 27-15 overall record.


Shakopee Indians 1, Blue Sox 0

Blue Sox .......#000#000#000#—#0#4#2

Shakopee .....#000#100#00x#—#1#1#0

Austin Blue Sox:Andy Swank 1-for-4; Matt Raso 2-for-3; Kyle Young 1-for-3, run, RBI. LP: Nels Nelson 8 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 4 HB, 6 K. RP.


Shakopee Indians:Troy Wasiloski 0-for-3, HBP, run; Chris Baso 0-for-3, walk; Brannon Weigel 1-for-2, RBI. WP: Dane Secott 9 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 0 BB, 7 K.

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