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BASEBALL: Blackduck beats Win-E-Mac 11-7, is one win away from return trip to state

THIEF RIVER FALLS — A year ago the Blackduck baseball team advanced to the Class A state tournament for the first time in the program’s history.

Tuesday at Northland Community and Technical College the Drakes moved within one victory from making their second state trip. On the strength of a 4-run sixth inning that stretched a 7-3 lead into an 11-3 advantage, Blackduck outlasted Win-E-Mac 11-7 in the winner’s bracket final of the Section 8A tournament.

The victory vaulted the Drakes (16-2) into the championship series and whichever team comes out of the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament will have to defeat Blackduck twice to take the section title.

The Drakes will need only one victory in the championship series to be crowned the Section 8A champions.

In Tuesday’s late elimination game Norman County faced Red Lake County. That winner will meet Win-E-Mac at 2 p.m. today and the survivor of that elimination contest will tangle with Blackduck at 4:30 p.m. in the first game of the championship series.

If Blackduck wins today it will claim its second consecutive section title. If the Drakes fall they will play one more winner-take-all game.

Tuesday’s game was knotted 2-2 until the top of the fourth when Blackduck scored three runs on three walks and Jake Krabbenhoft’s double.

The Drakes upped their advantage to 7-2 in the upper fifth when Shane Fenske singled, Colton Bales forced him at second, Trevor Smith reached on an error and Andrew Nissen walked to load the bases. Krabbenhoft followed with a 2-run single to right to cap the inning.

The Patriots closed within 7-3 with a run in the lower fifth but Blackduck answered with four in the sixth to regain control.

A walk to Dylan Weisert began the frame and an out later, Fenske doubled him home. Bales promptly plated Fenske with another double and Mitch Sparby’s single scored Tanner George who ran for Bales.

The inning continued when Nissen reached on an error and Sparby eventually scored on a passed ball.

The runs proved critical to the victory as Win-E-Mac tallied three times in the lower sixth. An error, a hit batter, two singles and a series of wild pitches combined for the runs.

The Patriots made things interesting with a run in the seventh but they stranded two runners when Krabbenhoft fanned Devin Faldet to end the game.

Weisert earned the pitching victory as the senior worked into the sixth. Krabbenhoft recorded the final five outs.

Krabbenhoft paced Blackduck’s offense as he belted three hits, walked twice, scored three runs and drove in two more.

Section 8A Tournament

NCTC, Thief River Falls

Tuesday’s Results

Championship Bracket

Blackduck 11, Win-E-Mac 7

Elimination Games

Norman County 8, Northland-Remer 1

Red Lake County 12, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 2

Norman County 10, Red Lake County 0

Thursday's Games

Game 1: Win-E-Mac vs. Norman County, 2 p.m. (loser eliminated)

Championship Series

Game 2: Blackduck vs. Game 1 winner, 4:30 p.m.

Game 3: Repeat of Game 2, if necessary, TBD