ELY — The Ely American Legion baseball team started their Ely Legion Classic run with a bang Friday night, knocking off defending Division II state champion Sacred Heart in a 10-5 decision.

Post 248 got things going early with a four-run bottom of the second that put them in the driver’s seat.

Chase Sandberg led off the inning with a single to right before Deegan Richards joined him on the bases by reaching on an error. A fielder’s choice moved both up a base with Caid Chittum driving the first run in an out later with a single to right-center field. A single up the right side from Joey Bianco scored the second run, 2-0 Ely.

Ben Kruse doubled Post 248’s lead during the next at bat, doubling to left-center to score two more runs. A single from Zach Cheney put runners back on the corner, but Post 229 starter Camden Wohlman got the final out to end the inning.

Ely starter Drew Marolt had a solid first few innings for Post 248, giving up very little until the top of the fourth, where Sacred Heart plated five runs, only one of which was earned off of Marolt.

Carter Rice led things off with a single to right before Wohlman took a walk. The pair advanced a base each on a fielder’s choice with a second fielder’s choice scoring a run.

One out away from ending the threat early, Post 229’s Isaac Haen reached on an infield error. Marolt walked Isaac Strommer to load up the bases with Dreyer Homan ripping a bases-clearing double to center to knot things up at four. Sacred Heart took the lead on the net at bat with Tyler Amsedn doubling to left to score Homan.

Ely didn’t let things get out of hand after that, however, scoring one in the fourth and one in the fifth to retake the lead. In the fourth, Bianco led off with a single to left, moved to second on a passed ball and then to third on a one-out single from Cheney.

Cheney took a nice jump to steal second with Erron Anderson at the plate and gave Bianco plenty of time to steal home after the attempted pickoff of Cheney. Both runners were safe with the game tied up at five.

In the fifth, Eddie Prijatel drew out a long at bat, fouling off multiple pitches before taking a one-out walk. Chris Chaulklin then came up and delivered a double to center to put himself and Prijatel in scoring position. Wohlman proceeded to walk Caid Chittum to load up the bases. He issued his second straight walk, this time to Bianco to bring Prijatel home, putting the tournament hosts on top 6-5.

Ely skipper Tom Coombe threw Logan Loe for the final two innings of the game, with Loe putting three batters down in succession for a clean sixth.

In the bottom of the sixth, Post 248 tacked on four more runs for insurance. With one out, Sandberg hit a single to left-center. With Richards at the plate, Sandberg moved to second and third on consecutive wild pitches. Richards then took a walk, ending Wohlman’s night.

Emery Aker came in to finish things off, but issued walks to Prijatel and Chaulklin to let in his first run of the game.

Sacred Heart grabbed a force out at home with Chittum reaching first, but a two-out, two-RBI double to center from Bianco put Ely up 9-5. Kruse brought the final run in to score, popping up in the infield. Three Sacred Heart defenders triangulated on the ball, but none of them went for the catch, allowing the final run to score.

Loe got through a dicey bases loaded bottom of the seventh, but didn’t let a run in, giving Ely the 10-5 win.

Grabbing the win against a solid ball club like Sacred Heart, Ely Legion head coach Tom Coombe said it should be a confidence booster for his team.

“I know a lot of their pitchers were used recently in the high school state tournament so I don’t think they were at full strength,” Coombe said. “But to come in tonight and beat them, whenever you can beat the defending state champions, it’s a nice win. I’m happy with that and happy for our guys.”

On the five-run inning his team gave up to let Sacred Heart back into the game, Coombe said his team made some mistakes, but it gave them a chance to prove their mettle.

“We made some mistakes in that inning and we had a chance to get out of it with zero or one runs and we didn’t. We kind of gave them an opening and they took advantage. It put us back on our heels a little bit but I was impressed the way we fought back.

“The inning we went ahead, Eddie Prijatel had that eight or nine pitch at bat and fouled some balls off and drew a walk. Those are things that don’t show up in the box score but end up winning you games.”

On his pitchers Marolt and Loe, Coombe had praise for both as they combined to give up just one earned run.

“It was Drew’s first Legion start and I was really happy with how he threw. He battled through that tough inning and came back, got us out of there and worked through five nice innings. Logan, you get what you get out of him. He’s a very consistent pitcher and we felt pretty confident with the lead with him on the mound.”

Coombe hopes the big win can give his team some momentum over the course of the weekend.

“If you lose a tough one on the first night, sometimes it’s hard to bounce back. Hopefully we have some momentum now for the rest of the weekend. Anyone you play in this tournament is going to be tough, there’s no doubt about that.”

Ely continued play on Saturday with games against Minnetonka and Kenyon. Today, they’ll close out the tournament with Rock Ridge at 4:15 p.m.

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