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State Class A baseball: Dragons are firing up

DAILY GLOBE CHASKA -- Hits were hard to come by for the Adrian Dragons and Ely Timberwolves Thursday in the first round of the Minnesota state Class A baseball tournament.Runs weren't easily accumulated either.Adrian got one of them -- in the top...

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PHOTO COURTESY OF JOYCE MCCARTHY Adrian High School second baseman Jake Stamer, as teammate Michael Preuss stands by, fires to first base Thursday at the state Class A baseball tournament after forcing an Ely runner out at second.

DAILY GLOBE

CHASKA - Hits were hard to come by for the Adrian Dragons and Ely Timberwolves Thursday in the first round of the Minnesota state Class A baseball tournament.
Runs weren’t easily accumulated either.
Adrian got one of them - in the top of the first inning - and it held up as the Dragons edged the Wolves, 1-0.
Thursday’s showdown matched teams located 437 miles apart, and it was a matchup of the teams’ ace pitchers. Ely’s Pat Huisman threw a full seven innings and allowed three hits, walked one and struck out four. Adrian’s Logan Rogers also went seven, also allowed just three hits, and walked nobody while striking out eight.
“It was two stud pitchers going at each other,” said veteran Adrian head coach Kevin Nowotny.
Adrian, 20-7 on the season, was unseeded in the 2016 tournament while Ely (now 20-6) was seeded third. But it will be the Dragons advancing in the winners bracket of the tournament to play Springfield today in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. at Chaska Athletic Park. Springfield (19-6), runner-up to New Life Academy in the tournament last year, defeated Lewiston-Altura in the other quarterfinal game, 12-2 in five innings.
Earlier this season, Nowotny explained that his team is always confident with Rogers on the mound. Thursday was no different.
“They were fairly relaxed for a state tournament game. With Logan on the mound, it just seems like everybody plays their best defense,” said the coach.
The Dragons’ leadoff hitter, shortstop Michael Preuss, started the game with a walk and advanced to second on a Jacob Stamer ground out. Rogers then fouled out to first base with Preuss advancing to third. With two out, catcher Zach Loosbrock singled Preuss home.
The Timberwolves had their own chances to score, but each time Rogers escaped without harm.
In the bottom of the first inning, Huisman doubled with two out. But Rogers got the next hitter, Spencer Gaulke, to strike out - Rogers’ third strikeout of the inning.
In the Wolves’ half of the sixth, Ely threatened again and Huisman - their best hitter - was at the plate with a chance to drive in the tying run with two out. Rogers threw his counterpart five consecutive curve balls and Huisman fouled off the last three before offering him another one slower than the others, and Huisman was out in front of it, striking out.
Ely had another base runner in the seventh inning but Rogers got the last two hitters on a fly out and ground out with the tying run straddling second base.
Nowotny described Rogers and Huisman as very similar pitchers. Both throw hard. Both possess outstanding curve balls, as well.
“The Ely coach said, as he shook my hand, ‘As advertised.’ He said he (Rogers) was everything they said he was, and more,” Nowotny said.
Springfield, second-seeded in the tournament, trailed Lewiston-Altura 2-0 in the first inning. But the Tigers scored 12 unanswered runs.
The Dragons and the Tigers played each other last year in the Section 3A finals, and although they didn’t face eachother this spring, Nowotny knows enough to describe Springfield as a very fine hitting team.
Senior pitcher Sam Beier, said Nowotny, will get the call on the mound for the Tigers today. He’s another hard thrower who can bring it 85 miles per hour.
To counter, Nowotny will hope to get at least four innings from two pitchers, Landon Rogers and Alex Loosbrock. Logan Rogers could close if needed.
The winner of the Adrian-Springfield game will play Monday at Target Field in Minneapolis for the championship. The loser plays at 5 p.m. today in Chaska for third place.
R H E
Adrian 100 000 0 - 1 3 1
Ely 000 000 0 - 0 3 1

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PHOTO COURTESY OF JOYCE MCCARTHY Senior pitching standout Logan Rogers bears down on an Ely hitter Thursday in Chaska. Rogers threw a three-hit shutout as Adrian defeated Ely in the first round of the state Class A baseball tournament.

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