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TH American Legion baseball finishes second in district playoffs

The Two Harbors American Legion baseball team was given a plaque honoring them for their second place finish in the district finals this year. Pictured are (back row) coach Rob Best and American Legion members Steve Uremovich and Dick Carlson and (front row) players Easton Best, Kyler Kinn, Tim Bott, Kyle Omtvedt. Photo by Jim Erickson. 1 / 2
The whole team poses after their final game. Submitted photo.2 / 2

From Doug Omtvedt

The Two Harbors/Silver Bay American Legion Post 109 baseball team completed their season by finishing second in the Division II, District 8 playoffs in Ely this past weekend.

In their second-round game, the Rivals defeated host Ely 4-1. Kyle Omtvedt earned the win by pitching his best game of the summer. He held Ely to one run on three hits. Omtvedt mixed his pitches and kept Ely off balance the entire game. The game was scoreless until the fourth inning when the Rivals broke through, scoring all four of their runs. Zach Duresky led the way on offense with two hits. He also made a couple of outstanding plays in center field. Ely picked up a run in the fifth inning, but Omtvedt closed out the game by striking out three of the final six batters.

The Rivals then advanced to play International Falls, the number one seed in the tournament. The Falls jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and the Rivals were unable to mount any offensive threat against Ben Humbert, the ace of the Falls’ roster. After the Falls scored three more times in the fourth inning, the Rivals finally broke through and scored four times in the sixth inning, but it wasn’t enough. The Falls tacked on one more run and won the game 9-4, sending the rivals into the elimination bracket. Tim Bott and Lucas Kempffer led the Rivals with two hits each.

A severe thunderstorm on Saturday pushed a rematch with Ely to Sunday afternoon. A back-and-forth game went the Rivals’ way when Bott came through with a double-out single to score Luke Small with the game winning run.

The Rivals opened the scoring in the fourth inning. With two outs, they loaded the bases and Easton Best hit a clutch double, scoring two. Nate Bauck then caught the Ely pitcher off guard and stole home for the third run of the game. Mark Pearson held Ely off the scoreboard until the fifth inning when Ely got a two-run home run to cut the lead to one. The Rivals extended the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth and Ely came back to tie the game in the top of the sixth.

With one runner on in the top of the seventh, Kyler Kinn came on in relief of Pearson, retiring the next three batters to set the stage for the Bott’s heroics. The 5-4 win sent the Rivals to the championship game.

The championship game was a rematch with International Falls. To advance to the state tournament, the Rivals needed to beat the Falls twice.

Omtvedt matched Humbert through the first two innings, keeping the game scoreless. In the third inning, the Rivals broke through, scoring three runs. In the fourth inning, things unraveled for the Rivals as the Falls broke through with seven runs and six hits and an error. From that point on, Humbert shut the door on the Rivals, holding them to just one hit over the final four innings. The final score was 9-3.