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Surrey takes one of two, advances to championship round

Blue Sox fall to Renville Co. 8-4, bounce back with 9-8 win

Ryan Ladika/MDN Shortstop Coltan Francis makes an off-balance throw to first base during Surrey's first game Thursday afternoon. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored during the contest.

The Surrey Blue Sox took part in a couple of wild affairs in the third day of the 2021 Class B Legion District 2 Tournament, dropping their first game to the Renville County Muskrats by an 8-4 final score before bouncing back with a wild 9-8 victory against the Burlington Bulldogs that sealed their spot in the Friday championship game against the Muskrats.

With the District 2 championship round within reach, the Blue Sox sent right-hander Keegan McLain to the mound against a well-rested Renville County squad. The top-seeded Muskrats, after routing Kenmare 19-4 in three innings in their first game of the tournament, received a day off from the action Wednesday as the team waited to learn its Thursday opponent.

The Blue Sox ambushed Muskrats starter Brock Depute in the top of the first inning, scoring a pair of early runs to support their own starter before his first pitch. With two outs in the inning, Coltan Francis and Collin Headrick swatted back-to-back singles, setting the table for McLain to help his own cause.

He did just that, driving both home with the first of two triples in the game by the righty. The extra-base hit quickly put Surrey ahead 2-0.

The Sox tacked on one more in the top of the third frame via McLain’s second triple, one that scored Headrick for the second time in three innings. The wheels started to come off in the home half of the frame for Surrey, though, as Renville County saw its adjustments pay off.

The Muskrats sent eight men to the plate in the home half of the fourth, scoring four times on a successful double-steal of second base and home plate, a Surrey error, a run-scoring hit-by-pitch by Depute and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Muskrats catcher Stetson Helwig.

A Joe Savelkoul leadoff single in the fourth later resulted in Renville County’s fifth run, but the back-and-forth affair again began to tip the other way late in the contest.

Surrey loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, but the Muskrats’ infield defense was a crucial factor in limiting the Sox to just one run in the frame, closing the deficit to 5-4 in the process.

The momentum again shifted to the other dugout in the home half of the inning, when Renville County scored three more times on the strength of three more hits and another Surrey error, sealing the 8-4 Blue Sox defeat and a spot in a must-win contest at 7:10 p.m. Thursday evening.

The Sox offense again came out swinging against the Bulldogs in the third and final game hosted at Corbett Thursday evening, a must-win contest for Surrey’s District 2 title hopes. The club scored four runs in the first two innings to slingshot out to a 4-0 advantage.

Kekoa Munos and Jaxon Feller both swatted singles to lead off the bottom of the first inning, and Collin Headrick took his hacks in a prime RBI chance. He sent a Ryan Ralph offering deep to center field for a sacrifice fly. Munos scored from third, as did Jaxon Feller, who never stopped running from second base and caught the Burlington defense off-guard.

An RBI single from Dalton Anderson and run-scoring fielder’s choice grounded into by Jaxon Feller doubled Surrey’s lead in the bottom of the second, but it started to fall apart for the Sox again in the middle innings.

The Bulldogs scored seven unanswered runs in the third, fourth and fifth frames, but the Sox immediately benefitted from a pair of Burlington miscues in the home half of the fifth inning.

Francis, Headrick and McLain loaded the bases with a pair of singles, and with the bases loaded and nobody out, Jonah Ringstad hit a slow dribbler back to the mound. Ralph air-mailed his try for the force out at home plate, and Francis and Headrick both scored, inching Surrey a bit closer with a 7-6 score.

Brady Feller tied the game with a sacrifice fly to right field, but the Burlington coaching staff pleaded for their starter to make an appeal throw to third base, thinking McLain left early.

Ralph did as he was asked, but his throw sailed past third base and into left field, allowing Ringstad, who advanced to third base on the back-end of the Brady Feller flyout, to score the go-ahead eighth run.

Burlington once more tied the affairs in the top of the sixth, via an RBI single that followed an untimely Surrey miscue, but the Sox were relentless. The home team on the scoreboard received a leadoff single from Jaxon Feller, who helped manufacture another Sox rally.

He stole second base and read a lazy fly ball off the bat of Francis well, scoring Surrey’s ninth run that would prove to be the game-winner. Francis took the mound in relief in the top of the seventh inning and slammed the door shut, striking out the side on 14 pitches, all swinging.

By virtue of the winning effort, Surrey locked up its spot in the District 2 title contest Friday evening. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Corbett Field.

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