EVELETH -- The Eveleth-Gilbert American Legion baseball team needed some late-inning heroics Tuesday night in their battle with Taconite as Brandon Lind blasted a three-RBI triple to center field in the bottom of the seventh to give Post 138 the win in walkoff fashion.
After giving up two runs to Post 301 in the top of the second, Eveleth-Gilbert trailed for nearly the entire game. With Lind starting on the mound for E-G, Taconite got runners on the bases early.
Mathias Neumayer led things off and reached first after he beat out a dropped third strike. He was quickly brought home with Israel Hartman ripping an RBI double to right-center field to make it 1-0 Taconite.
Ethan Endresen then put runners on the corners with a bloop single to center. Hartman then came around to score after Westin Smith put the ball in play, forcing E-G to go for the out at second. Post 138 avoided any more damage for the rest of the inning, leaving things at 2-0.
Neumayer -- starting for Post 301 -- and Lind dueled it out for most of the remainder of the game, with the next score not coming until the bottom of the sixth.
Tate Uhan got things going for Eveleth-Gilbert in the inning with a walk to reach first. The Bears wasted little time bringing him home as Lind punched a double to center to make it a 2-1 ballgame.
The runs kept coming with Will Bittmann coming to the plate next. Bittmann hit a double of his own, this one to right-center field, that allowed Lind to score, knotting things up at two.
After Jaden Lang flew out to left, Andrew Torrel came up to the plate. Torrel popped one up in center field, which was caught for the second out. Bittmann tagged up and began sprinting to third, looking for any advantage he could get. The throw to the Taconite third baseman went long, however, which let Bittmann run home for the score, putting the Bears on top 3-2.
Bittmann, who started pitching in the sixth, was tasked with closing things out in the seventh. Things took a turn, however, as he hit Smith, allowing him to take first. Smith stole his way to second and eventually moved to third with Darric Davidson recording an infield single to put runners on the corners.
Davidson stole second with Ezra Carlson at the plate just before Carlson flew out, allowing Smith to tag up and run home for the game-tying score. Taconite added on two more runs for safety with an RBI double from Gage Waldvogel and an RBI single to left from Ty Donahue.
Trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Bears found some late-game magic and set up the perfect walkoff ending.
With one out, Alec Troutwine reached on a blooper to left off the new pitcher Endreson. He was joined on the bases by Carter Mavec, reaching on a walk. Uhan then came to the plate and reached on a walk as well, loading up the bases for Brandon Lind.
One of the most experienced players on E-G’s Legion team, Lind picked his moment, hitting a triple to center field, allowing all three runners to score to give Post 138 the win, 6-5. According to E-G head coach Jamie Lindseth, the end was perfect for Lind in his last game on his home field.
“How fitting was that,” Lindseth said. “If I had to draw it up for a way to go into the playoffs, that’s probably how I would’ve drawn it up. If I had to pick a kid to end it with a walkoff triple on his last home game ever, it would’ve been him. It’s just a tremendous way for Brandon to go out.”
Lindseth says it was a hard fought win as Taconite capitalized on nearly every E-G miscue throughout the contest.
“Every time we made some kind of mistake, they scored. But our guys fought back. They didn’t give in. Our meaty part of our lineup came up big, but other spots did as well. If Alec Troutwine doesn’t have that single in the last inning, it’s only a tie game. It was a fun game to be a part of and I’m glad we found a way out of it in the end.”
With their last regular season game scheduled for Thursday with Proctor scratched, Lindseth says it’s time for his team to focus up and get ready for Saturday’s playoff opener. Post 138 will also get to bolster their lineup, returning a player that was injured earlier in the spring season.
“We should be fresh. Everybody should be ready to go. We’re getting Carter Flannigan back for the tournament, our No. 2 pitcher. Happy for him to come back from injury. He is one of our gamers so it’s exciting to see him come back.”
“That’s the way you want to end it. We’re excited for playoffs. I think we’re there. There’s always a plan and now we just have to execute the plan and have some fun.”
Eveleth-Gilbert’s opponent and game time for Saturday’s opener has yet to be determined.