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North St. Paul 39ers tame Maplewood Green in back-to-back games
Gus Varland gets 10 strikeouts in shutout
In back-to-back American Legion baseball games, good pitching and timely hits helped lift the North St. Paul 39ers over the 3M Post No. 599 Maplewood Green.
In the first game played at Hill-Murray High School Field Monday, June 30, the 39ers shutdown the Green 4-0.
Two days later at Kuenkel Field in North St. Paul, the 39ers hung a 6-3 defeat on the Green.
Nearly all the 39ers attend North High, while the majority of Maplewood Green players are from Hill-Murray.
North St. Paul 4 - Maplewood Green
When asked about the game, North St. Paul Post 39 manager Ron Adams, said one word, “Pitching.” He went on to say, “(Gus) Varland did the job for us. He was good and kept them off balance the whole game.
“He threw strikes and got ahead of most batters. Then we got good defense behind him and those combined made for the win.”
Varland had 10 strikeouts and went the distance. He allowed four hits and issued no walks.
The Green scattered their four hits and only once, in the bottom of the seventh, were they able to get a runner to third base.
The 39ers put the game-winning run on the board in the second inning. Steve Orme worked a leadoff walk. Orme reached third on a single by Brendon Herold.
A balk allowed Orme to cross home and sent Herold to second. A slow-roller to the right side advanced Herold to third, and he came home on a second slow-roller to first base.
The 2-0 score stood until the top of the seventh. Herold got a leadoff walk on four pitches. Jake McDonough was safe on an error on the left side allowing Herold to race to third and McDonough to second.
Sam Blees was nailed by a pitch to load the bases with no outs. Minser sent a line shot into right field for an RBI. Herold scored and runners were standing on second and third.
An attempt at a suicide bunt backfired as McDonough was out at the plate and Blees went to third.
Jack Murnane reached on a fielder’s choice as Blees crossed the plate with the 4-0 tally.
The Green had their best chances in the bottom of the seventh. Jim Quirk sent a one-out double to the centerfield fence. He was promptly picked off. Alex Ogren then sent a shot to right field for a double and made his way to third on a passed ball.
A ground out to the pitcher ended the inning, and the Green’s best chance to score went for naught.
North St. Paul 6 - Maplewood Green 3
Two days later at Kuenkel Field, the adversaries went into battle once again. A different day made for a different game, but in the end the 39ers came out on top again.
It wasn’t that the Maplewood Green didn’t have chances on July 2. “We could have used a timely hit here or there and it would have been a different ball game,” said Green head coach Dusty Wilhelmy.
“We had a lot of good chances, especially early on, and we could have used a hit or two.
“But I’m proud of these kids. It is a good bunch of dedicated athletes who always battle hard right to the end,” Wilhelmy said.
“I thought it was a good game,” said North St. Paul manager Ron Adams. “We got some good key hits and that was just enough to stay in the game.
“We finished strong on the mound and got good relief pitching to shut them down.” Adams was referring to the pitching of Sam Blees, who came on in the sixth, and Bram Minser, who finished the seventh.
The line scores would have made for a different ending. The Green had three runs on six hits, one error and nine left on base. For North St. Paul it was 6- 7-1-1.
The nine runners left stranded on base and the inability to get a timely hit were a frustration for the Maplewood Green and their coach.
In the top of the second, a leadoff walk to Maplewood’s Jim Quirk proved costly to the 39ers. He went to second on a wild pitch and home on a single into centerfield off the bat of Joe Bauman.
In the bottom of the third the 39ers took advantage of a couple of walks, an error and a double into deep centerfield.
Jace Piepgras worked a one-out walk, and Jack Murnane was safe on an infield error. Corky Hildebrandt picked up an RBI on an infield ground out. Tommy Mulvaney walked and was followed by Joe Messerole’s one-hop double off the center field fence that drove in a pair of runs and the 39ers led 3-1.
In the upper fourth Maplewood got the runs back. Bauman led off with a looping single behind second base. Austen Peterson walked and they moved up the paths on a wild pitch. A second wild pitch allowed Bauman to score and Peterson to advance to third. Sam Westby then cracked an RBI single into left field and the score was knotted at 3-3.
The 39ers regained the lead in the fourth. A walk to Jake McDonough was followed by a single into center by designated hitter Elvin Baez. A strikeout later, Murnane sacrificed the pair up the paths.
Hildebrandt picked up his third RBI when he sent a shot to right center that scored McDonough and Baez to run the score to 5-3.
In the sixth the 39ers added to their total when Sam Farley led off with a single through the mound into center. He moved to second on an infield out. A single by Baez - he was 2-for-3 - plated Farley and the 39ers had the 6-3 margin with which the game would end.
Wally Wakefield can be reached at email@example.com.