Exactly a week after East Bethel and Champlin were rained out, the Bandits and LoGators finally got in the first league game of the year.
Metro Minny baseball got an emotional start April 29 in the East Bethel Bandits’ 6-5 victory over the Champlin LoGators, with a bench-clearing scuffle after the final out.
In the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded and two out, player-manager Nick Larsen pinch-hit for the LoGators. Larsen hit a short popup right down the first base line. Bandit first baseman Adam Zantzis caught the ball and collided with Larsen on the baseline.
Bandit second baseman Matt “Buck” Micheals took exception to the play and pushed over the much larger Larsen.
Both benches then cleared with a bit of pushing and shoving. A few words were exchanged, but cooler heads prevailed before any punches were thrown.
Micheals has been suspended three games by the league.
“I was under the impression that I had as much right to the baseline as the fielder did,” said Larsen. “It was a misunderstanding of the rules from what I understand now.”
Larsen’s popup ended what could have been a game winning rally. Champlin had scored one run already in the inning when Dustin Wolf doubled in Marek to make the score 6-5.
Champlin got the scoring started with a three-run third inning with RBI hits from Wolf and Mantz. Wolf scored the third run on a close play at the plate.
East Bethel answered with three runs in the fourth, led by back-to-back doubles from Adam Zentzis and Grant Larson.
The Bandits added two in the seventh thanks to a leadoff single by Matt Topeff and double by Mitch Mannig. Mannig stole third, then scored on B Crofty’s single.
Ryan Bruns went 3-4 with two doubles for the LoGators, but also gave up the game winning run pitching in the ninth. Wolf finished 2-5, scored twice and had two RBIs.
Every Bandit starter had at least one base hit, Michaels, Zentzis and Mannig each had two. Jeff Amann picked up the win after giving up two runs in 3.2 innings. Mannig picked up the save.
“I thought it was a good competitive game,” said Dallas Jelmberg, East Bethel’s manager. “Neither team had a commanding advantage over the other team; in the end we did enough to win the ball game.”
East Bethel and Champlin met again May 4 at St. Francis High School.
Blaine Fusion 21
Twin Cities Blue Sox 3
The Fusion broke out the big sticks, collecting 17 hits and 10 walks in the rout. Matt Maurer had four hits and four RBIs to lead the attack, and five others had two hits.
Blaine pitching was also stellar, striking out 16 Blue Sox batters. Starter Mathias Deuvel struck out seven in three scoreless innings, Brooks Maner and Matt Mossey each struck out three in an inning of work.
All Metro Minny games scheduled for April 28 were postponed or rained out.
Chris Walden is all things CheapSeatsMN and can be reached at