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Blue Sox drop 10 inning slug-fest to Blue Earth

The Blue Sox ripped out 20 hits against Blue Earth Friday night at Marcusen Park, but all they needed was a fly ball that never came in a 13-11 loss in 10 innings.

After Craig Selk singled in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth, Blue Earth intentionally walked Dan Swift, giving the Blue Sox (16-8 overall) bases loaded with no outs with the winning run on third base.

Duell Higbe grounded into a fielder’s choice and Marty Dick grounded into an inning-ending double play.

“We had a couple guys who are very capable and they just didn’t execute,” Blue Sox manager Josh Kunze said. “But those are good situations because you never know at one point in the section or state tournament you’ll come up in those situations and you want your guys to be battle tested.”

Blue Earth (14-5 overall) took the lead for good in the top of the 10th when Matt Willner tripled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Todd Schmidtke to make it 12-11. Forest Passer drew a two-out walk for the Pirates, stole second and third and scored on an infield single by Cody Sukalski to make it 13-11.

Mark Harber drew a one-out walk for the Blue Sox in the bottom of the 10th, but Preston Higbe struck out and Casey Toops grounded out to end the game.

Weston Hansen got the start on the mound for Austin and he struck out 10 in five innings, but he also allowed four hits, four walks and three earned runs. Brandon Hesser allowed seven runs in relief.

“We’re trying to get Weston and Brandon pitching with some good defensive players behind them,” Kunze said. “They both just need to locate better and throw more strikes. We had too many walks and we struck out too many times (11) ourselves.”

The Blue Sox led 5-4 after six innings, but the Pirates put up five runs in the top of the seventh. Sukalski hit a big two-out, two-run double and Trent Sonnicksen hit a two-out run scoring double to make it 9-5 Blue Earth.

Austin scored twice in the bottom of the seventh, but Toops and Darin Wagner struck out with runners on first and second.

Austin had six extra-base hits on the night and three of those came from Kunze, who had three doubles and three RBIs.

“I’ve been struggling lately,” Kunze said. “I just need to keep my weight back, trust my hands and let the ball travel. I was fortunate to get ahead on a few counts and I got to see the pitches I was expecting to see.”

The Blue Sox will play the Austin Greyhounds in Marcusen Park Sunday at 1 p.m.

Blue Earth 1 0 1 0 2 0 5 2 0 2 — 13 17 1

Blue Sox 1 0 3 1 0 0 2 3 1 0 — 11 20 6

Blue Sox pitching: Weston Hansen, 5 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 4 R, 3 ER, 10 K; Brandon Hesser (L), 5 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 7 ER, 3 K

Blue Sox hitting: Casey Toops, 2-for-7, double, 2 R; Darin Wagner, 2-for-5, R, BB; Craig Selk, 4-for-6, 2 RBIs, 2 R; Dan Swift, 2-for-4, double, RBI, R, BB; Duell Higbe, 1-for-4, double, 2 R, BB, HBP; Marty Dick, 1-for-4, 2 RBIs; Josh Kunze, 3-for-5, 3 doubles, 3 RBIs, 2 R, BB; Brandon Rector, 2-for-3, RBI; Jamey Pratt, 0-for-3; Mark Harber, 2-for-2, 2 RBIs, BB; Brady Klingfus, 0-for-1; Preston Higbe, 1-for-3

Blue Earth hitting: Cody Sukalski, 3-for-6, double, 3 RBIs; Trent Sonnicksen, 4-for-6, double, 2 RBIs; T.J. Schmidtke, 2-for-6, RBI; Aaron Wendt, 2-for-4, double; Kane Malo, 2-for-5, triple, RBI; Daniel Woodall, 1-for-6, double, RBI; Matt Willner, 2-for-6, triple, 2 RBIs; Todd Schmidtke, 1-for-5, RBI; Forest Passer, 0-for-2