Blaine rallies past FL in VFW playoffs

Post 4210 finishes at 18-11

 

Clint Riese
Sports Editor

The VFW Post 4210 baseball team hoped to advance to the round of eight in the Seventh District tournament and enjoy home-field advantage at Schumacher Field over the weekend.

A scrappy Blaine squad laid waste to those plans last week, though.

The local boys scored a 9-4 victory in the opener of a best-of-three playoff series last Wednesday but dropped the next two games and saw their season come to an end with a mark of 18-11.

“We had a good summer,” said coach Kale Henry. “We started 3-6 and really played well in the back half of the season.”

The road win in the series opener was Forest Lake’s sixth straight victory.

Starter Tim Yaritz and reliever Clayton Dahly each allowed a pair of runs. They got support in the form of a six-run third inning. Dahly drove in two runs in the frame and Yaritz, Alex Egle and Jake Wassman each had one RBI.

Blaine, the tournament’s seventh seed, chipped away and made it 6-4 in the sixth, but Forest Lake added three runs in the seventh, highlighted by a two-run squeeze bunt.

The second game in the series followed that same night and it appeared Post 4210 may sweep. Egle singled in the third, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a groundout. In the fifth, Brett Gravelle walked, was bunted over to second base and scored on a hit by Dahly.

Wassman carried a shutout into the seventh but a single, walk and a bean ball loaded the bases for the hosts. Dahly relieved and Blaine came through with the winning hit with two outs.

“It was a tweener groundball and we didn’t make the play,” Henry said. “It was a tough loss.”

Forest Lake regrouped and came out swinging in the winner-take-all game in Blaine on Thursday. Post 4210 scored four times in the first two innings. Gravelle allowed one run in the fourth and an error allowed Blaine to score the go-ahead run in a four-run fifth.

Forest Lake squandered a chance to tie the game in the sixth and Blaine blew it open in their half of the inning, helped by several more errors.

“Our defense just kind of broke down in this game, which is pretty uncharacteristic,” Henry said. “Even the bullpen, I thought, pitched pretty well. We just didn’t catch the ball behind it, which happens sometimes.”

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