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Hady pitches seven innings of shutout ball for Jackson

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LUVERNE -- Crafty Jackson Bulls veteran Tom Hady twirled seven scoreless innings Friday night, while teammates Blaise Jacobsen (3-for-4) and Corey Polz each ripped RBI doubles, leading the Bulls to a 6-2 Region 13C playoff victory over the Luverne Redbirds.

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The win gives Jackson a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series. Game 3 will be played at 2 p.m. Sunday in Jackson

Hady, who has nearly 20 years of pitching experience as an area amateur baseball player, was in command throughout the contest.

"He's (a) veteran," summed up Luverne skipper Barry Shelton. "Hady's been around this league a long a time, and he knows how to pitch."

While Hady only retired the Redbirds in order in the third and sixth innings, he utilized good control and excellent defense to keep Luverne off the scoreboard.

The Redbirds rapped a total of 13 hits in the game, six of them coming in the last two innings after Hady had retired for the night.

But the Jackson ace only issued two walks, while scattering seven hits and recording seven timely strikeouts.

"My arm felt good tonight," said Hady, who was bothered by a sore elbow earlier this season. "I really rely on my defense, and both the infield and outfield came through to help me."

Jackson's outfield came up with a pair of huge throws to the plate, cutting down hard-charging Redbirds at home.

Bulls' center fielder Andy Wolf made the first strong throw, gunning down Luverne's Matt Oye -- a draftee from Pipestone -- to end the bottom of the first inning for the Redbirds.

In the fifth inning, Jackson left fielder Jordan Lewis fired home and nailed a speeding Micah Boomgaarden at the plate, helping Hady keep his shutout going.

"Those were big plays for us," said Jackson head coach Scott Bahr. "We have been playing very well defensively in our last several games."

At the plate, it was Jacobsen who delivered the game's first big hit.

After both teams had failed to push a run across in the first two innings, the Bulls loaded the bases in the top of third.

After Trent Sukalski walked, Lewis belted a sharp single into left field and Adam Schmidt -- a draftee from Fairmont -- drew a walk.

After fouling off several balls, Jacobsen smacked a 2-2 pitch into the left center-field gap where Luverne center fielder Jake Studer -- who made several fine running catches in the game -- just missed snaring the ball with a gallant diving effort.

But the ball landed safely and with two outs, all three Jackson baserunners scored.

Later in the sixth inning, after Kip Wachel had walked and Jacobsen cracked a single, it was Polz who drove a double to deep right center field, scoring both Bulls.

Leading 5-0, Jackson continued making the plays behind Hady and increased the advantage to 6-0 in the seventh inning when Jacobsen's third hit of the game produced his fourth RBI.

Luverne rallied with a single run in both the eighth and ninth innings, stroking three consecutive hits in each frame.

Oye took the loss on the hill for the Redbirds. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, finishing with seven strikeouts, while walking four, beaning two and allowing six runs on six hits.

Kent Woelber, also a draftee from Pipestone, relieved Oye in the top of the seventh and held the Bulls scoreless in his 2 1/3 innings of work.

Jeff Sehr had three hits for Luverne, including an RBI single in the ninth.

James Fisher (RBI single in the eighth inning), Tony Sandbulte and Oye each had two hits for Luverne, while Terry Eernisse, Rob Fodness, Tyler Reisch and Andrew DeBoer all contributed a hit to the Redbird offensive effort.

Wolf and Jared Rahe had hits early in the game for the Bulls, who finished with eight for the game. Sukalski scored two runs.

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