South Ridge’s rally runs out
Maybe the only way to slow down the streaking South Ridge baseball team was to give them an unseen day off.
That’s what happened last Thursday when inclement weather postponed the Panthers’ Section 7A baseball championship game with Ely to Friday morning instead.
And instead of scoring like they had in four consecutive elimination games — out-running their opponents 44-17 — South Ridge’s rally ran short in a 2-0 shutout loss to the Timberwolves last week at Al Nyberg Field in Hibbing.
State-bound Ely (21-2), which faces New York Mills Thursday, in Chaska, Minn., didn’t wasn’t time in taking down the pesky Panthers. The well-played, seven-inning game that started at 10 a.m. took only 1 hour, 18 minutes.
“We were at Subway by noon,” Timberwolves Coach Frank Ivancich told the Duluth News Tribune last Friday.
Ivancich explained that postponing the game a day was something that perhaps played into his Ely team’s deck.
“I think that day off might have been to our advantage,” Ivancich added.
After withstanding a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, Will Gustafson, Ely’s winning pitcher, survived another bases-chucked scenario in the fifth, as South Ridge couldn’t get their hot bats going when needed.
“We just didn’t get the big hit, but that’s baseball,” said Panthers Co-Coach Tom Spaniol. “It was just a very good high school baseball game. Just well-played on both sides.”
On the losing side for the first time in nearly two weeks — having eliminated Chisholm, Barnum, Cook County and Littlefork-Big Falls all within two days — South Ridge (11-9) won nearly half of their games this spring in the playoffs.
Sophomore pitcher Reid Clark was nearly as brilliant as Gustafson, tossing a complete game in defeat.
The defeat was the last high school athletic event for South Ridge senior third baseman Kody Karppinen, a member of a senior class that advanced to the section championship in football, basketball and baseball this year.
“It sucks coming up short,” Karppinen admitted, “but we had a talented senior class. I will remember them forever.”
As will first baseman, Drew Janke.
“I was lucky enough to have played with them,” he said.
“They set the standard,” Co-Coach Tony DeLeon added.
“It’s a tremendous group,” Spaniol said, thanking them all. “They really worked to put South Ridge on the map.”