Velva runs into problems, salvages a split with Surrey
VELVA — Aggressive base running was bested by better defense, as Velva head coach Terry Peterson took a risk by signaling for an unconventional double steal with two outs.
Surrey handled it to perfection.
The Blue Sox defense snuffed out the danger to seal a 3-2 victory in the first game — the District 3 regional counter contest — of an American Legion Class B baseball doubleheader played Tuesday evening Velva.
The 39ers got some redemption with a 7-2 five-inning win in the nightcap, albeit that won’t help them in the standings.
“I thought maybe we could catch them off guard,” Peterson said about his decision. “It’s something we have run in practice and it has worked in the past. It didn’t this time. They were ready for it.”
Leading up to that critical moment, both teams had scored twice in the opening frame.
Surrey got things going with an RBI triple by Dalton Anderson and he came around to score on a wild pitch.
In the bottom half, Velva’s Enrique Gonzales provided an RBI groundout and Tace Pederson tied the game with an RBI single.
The score remained deadlocked at 2-2 until the fifth inning.
Surrey caught a break when a ball was bobbled and then dropped in the outfield to plate what turned out to be the game-winning run.
“I think our at-bats need to be a little better,” Surrey head coach Kelly Wetzel said. “But, our defense was solid for the most part.”
Down a run, Velva gambled that Surrey’s defense would make a mistake.
The 39ers tried to steal the run back in the sixth inning by forcing a rundown situation. After drawing a two-out walk, Michael Thomas put himself in no man’s land between first and second base. Pederson, who was intently watching the standoff from third base, waited for the opportune time to break for home plate.
At first, Surrey was content to just let Thomas take second base. But, Thomas hesitated and didn’t take the free base. Instead, Thomas started retreating toward first base.
Blue Sox pitcher Mason Dunn chased after Thomas, which allowed Pederson to bolt for home. But, Thomas was tagged out before Pederson was able to score. Inning over.
“That was just a smart play on our pitcher’s part,” Wetzel said. “That was good baseball sense. He kept track of the guy on third base and ran straight at (Thomas), just like he is supposed to do.”
After a stress-free seventh inning, Surrey secured the 3-2 win. Dunn pitched a complete game for the Blue Sox.
“Maybe I took a bat out of a kid’s hand, but I gave that opportunity to one of our older kids (to make a play running the bases),” Peterson said. “We didn’t make the right decision, but we will next time.”
Velva built up a 4-0 lead after the first inning in the second game. The runs came via a sacrifice fly, bases-loaded walk to Jersey Selzler, wild pitch in the dirt and RBI single by Ian Jelsing.
Surrey scored its only two runs on an RBI groundout in the second inning and RBI single by Jaxon Feller in the fourth inning.
Velva concluded its scoring with a bases-loaded hit by pitch to Rye Johnston in the third inning and a two-run double by Pederson in the fourth inning, 7-2.
“We got handed a few walks, so that helps,” Peterson said. “But at least we get to leave on a good note with us having a game tomorrow (Wednesday) and Friday.”
Velva hosts Bottineau this evening and Stanley on Friday. Both doubleheaders are scheduled to start at 5 p.m. in Velva.
Surrey is in Burlington on Friday with a 5:30 p.m. start time.
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.