Legion faces long road back

Deer River avenges high school defeats, thumps Ely in playoff opener

SWINGING AWAY - Luke Olson drove a ball to the outfield during the Ely Legion team’s 6-5 win against Deer River. Photo by Nick Wognum

Deer River gained a bit of revenge and put Ely’s American Legion baseball team in an unenviable position Tuesday night.
Jeffrey Moore pitched five shutout innings and added a two-run homer for good measure as Deer River scored in all but one inning of an 11-2, Eighth District Division II playoff rout at Marble.
The win was Deer River’s first in five tries against Ely, dating back to a pair of high school section finals upsets by the Timberwolves, and it set up a winners’ bracket meeting with top-seeded Taconite on Friday.
Ely, meanwhile, fell to 10-10 and dropped into the elimination round of the double-elimination tournament, Post 248 now needs six straight wins to claim the district title, a quest that started with a Friday morning tilt with Moose Lake.
“Now, we face a long, long road,” said Ely Head Coach Tom Coombe. “It’s tough coming through the losers’ bracket and you can’t look at it as a whole. We just have to go one game at a time and hope we catch a break and get hot.”
Ely beat Deer River 6-5 just four days earlier, but the playoff encounter started poorly for Post 248 and only got worse.
Moore, who scored three times, doubled to lead off the game and was part of a two-run first inning that included four hits.
The game stretched further away from Ely in the top of the second, when a freak collision at home plate knocked starting catcher Matt Schultz from the game.
Deer River scored twice in the second and plated two more runs in the fourth, with Dakota Goggleye and Chad Benham ripping back-to-back run-scoring doubles, to make it 6-0.
Moore gave up three hits through five innings and though he notched just one strikeout, the righthander was backed by a flawless Deer River defense.
Moore’s blast over the left field fence made it 8-0 and Deer River had a 10-run lead before Ely countered in the bottom of the sixth.
Darnell Goggleye, who had two hits, singled in one run and another scored on a wild pitch.
By then the game was out of reach and Deer River was on its way.
The winners had 13 hits against Ely starter Zach Anderson and reliever Tyler Housey, with Moore, Benham, Jaxson Willis and Dakota Goggleye cracking two apiece.
Darnell Goggleye had two of Ely’s five hits.
• Trevor Mattson went six innings to get the pitching win, while Gage Merhar had a solo home run and picked up the save in the July 14, 6-5 victory against Deer River.
Mattson scattered nine hits and struck out three in six frames, and he was backed by a three-for-three, three runs batted in performance by college freshman Tayler Banks.
Joe Wenzel also had three hits, while Merhar scored three runs during his two-for-four evening.
• Taconite outslugged Ely 16-10 in Sunday’s regular season finale.
Merhar had three doubles, Tyler Housey scored three runs, and Wenzel finished three-for-four.
Banks was the losing pitcher.
• The district tournament runs through Sunday at Marble with the district champion advancing to the State Division II Tournament, which starts Friday, July 28 at New London-Spicer.