Blaine town ball team challenged on and off the field

The Fusion hosted the Rochester Royals Saturday evening, losing a tough game 3-2. Blaine (26-5 overall) has a tougher challenge off the field, as the Metro Minny has ruled that two of their players are ineligible – which might disqualify the Fusion from postseason play.

Blaine Fusion’s starting pitcher Brian Hodney pitched seven strong innings.
Blaine Fusion’s starting pitcher Brian Hodney pitched seven strong innings.

Brian Hodney pitched seven strong innings for the Fusion, scattering six hits with only one walk and two strikeouts. Hodney gave up two runs in the sixth when the Royals leadoff hitter was hit by pitch, then followed by a single and double to give Rochester a 2-1 lead.

Blaine tied it up in the bottom of the seventh when Joe Tupy scored on a Matt Maurer single. Rochester scored the winning run when Brian Anderson drew a walk from Fusion reliever Mathias Deuval. Anderson then went to second on a groundout to third and took third when no Fusion player covered the bag. Josh Matti drove him in to take the lead for good.

Both teams pitched well, and defense was solid with the exception of the late mental error by the Fusion. Garett Benson pitched a complete game for Rochester.

The bigger story of the week is off the field. The players in question, P. Bryce Brahaum and C. Ryan Keeton, are college players attending Mesabi in Virginia, Minn., who stay in Elk River during the summer.

Both players are from Indiana however, creating the gray area.

Minnesota Baseball Association rules state that a college player may use either their college address or their parents’ address to calculate the 30-mile eligibility.

The question comes from the fact that neither player actually goes to their parent’s address when school is out.

According to Blaine’s website, Brahaum has pitched 12 innings with a 5.25 ERA. Keetan has a .312 batting average in 34 plate appearances.

Metro Minny President Dallas Jelmberg said, “The league voted 7-3 against them. They (Blaine) have appealed, and it’s up to the state board to decide.”

Blaine Fusion manager Jamie Heipel plans to present sufficient evidence to the state board to overturn the ruling.

“I thought it was a no-brainer. They live in Elk River,” said Heipel. “It would be a waste of a year.”

Heipel will present evidence at the state board of directors meeting on July 14 in St. Cloud that he believes will be enough to convince them that the players reside in Elk River.

Weekly wrap-up, July 2-8 

• Anoka Bucs (8-6, 5-5 Metro Minny)

Anoka’s only game of the week was a 6-0 loss to the St. Michael Saints.

• Blaine Fusion (26-5, 10-2)

The Fusion’s loss to Rochester was tempered by a 3-2 win over Metro Minny rival Coon Rapids. Shane Bushland earned his 8th win of the year, giving up just two runs and striking out nine.

• Coon Rapids Redbirds (21-7, 6-4)

Coon Rapids lost to to Blaine, but beat Elk River and Rogers in sectional play by identical 15-1 scores. The birds also beat East Bethel 10-7.  Zack Sather hit home runs against Rogers and East Bethel.

• East Bethel Bandits (9-16, 2-11)

The Bandits lost two games last week, to Coon Rapids and a sectional loss to Elk River. Alek Zentzis went yard against the Redbirds.

• St. Francis Saints (13-10, 2-5)

The Saints had the week off.

Just three weeks left before sectional tournaments start in August.

Chris Walden is at [email protected]