Northfield knocks Marshall Blue out of state tourney

Marshall VFW Blue saw its summer finally come to a close after another 1-1 day at the 2013 Minnesota State VFW Baseball Tournament in Ely and Soudan.

Blue opened the day with a 7-3 win over Perham in the elimination bracket, but fell to Northfield in the nightcap 9-5.

Against Perham, Blue jumped out to a 5-1 lead after three innings; a pair of two-hit games from Derek Rasmussen and Drew Hmielewski. Rasmussen chipped in with three RBIs, while Hmielewski drove in two.

“Derek came up big for us. Both hits he had for us came with two outs,” Marshall Blue head coach Chace Pollock said. “That was big for us. With runners on second and third he hit one and his other hit came with a runner on second. We didn’t have a ton of hits that game, but he made them matter. It was good to see Derek hit the ball.”

Perham cut the Marshall lead down to 5-3 with two runs in the bottom of the fourth, but Blue answered with a crooked number of their own in the next half inning to regain the four-run lead.

Marshall starter Conner Winkelman locked in following the fourth inning, holding Perham scoreless over the final three frames. Winkelman went the distance in picking up the win, striking out nine in the process.

“That was great. He went the distance and had all his pitches going,” Pollock said. “He was going after hitters and letting his defense work. He did a great job.”

Following the win in Soudan, Marshall returned to Ely to take on Northfield. The two teams traded crooked numbers in the early innings.

A 2-0 lead for Northfield after the first became a 3-2 lead for Marshall in the second, when Winkelman plated two runs on his second double of the contest.

“Conner did a nice job for us today,” Pollock said. “He led the game off with a leadoff double to get the tempo started for Game 2.”

Northfield put up three runs of its own in the bottom of the third, but Marshall answered with a pair in the top of the fourth to knot the game at 5-5.

That was it for Blue as far as scoring would go, as Marshall was unable to duplicate its earlier success. Northfield, on the other hand, added runs in the fourth and fifth innings, and two more off of relievers Drew Hmielewski and Rusty Swanson in the sixth to add to its lead.

“Northfield’s a good team. They do a lot of things really well,” Pollock said. “They had played one game less than us, their guy went the distance and I think that had a lot to do with their success. It’s tough to play four games in two days. Whether its a doubleheader in the middle of the summer or at the state tournament, that’s a lot of arms.”

Scotty Buss started for Blue, but lasted just 2 2/3 innings. Rasmussen relieved him for the final out in the inning, while Nate Hoeft tossed the fourth and fifth innings, ultimately taking.

The loss brings Blue’s season to a close, one game away from the final four of the state tournament.

“It was a fun summer with the kids,” Pollock said. “They all worked hard and they all had good attitudes. It’s a very good group of kids. When we talk about having team goals and talk about putting the team first, these kids, every one of them, were team-first guys. That’s a coaches dream.”

Marshall203 020 0-7 6 0

Perham010 200 0-3 7 4

M-Conner Winkelman. WP-Winkelman.

Marshall030 200 0-5 6 2

Northfield203 112 x-9 8 2

M-Scotty Buss, Derek Rasmussen (3), Nate Hoeft (4), Drew Hmielewski (6), Rusty Swanson (6). LP-Buss. 2B: M-Conner Winkelman 2.