Finally the ball bounced Brainerd's way.
After starting the second half 0-4 and seeing lead after lead disappear, it was the Blue Thunder's turn to rally from a four-run hole and secure a win.
It happened Tuesday during a rare day game at Mills Field in Brainerd. The Blue Thunder manufactured six runs in the seventh inning to defeat the Eau Claire Express 9-8.
Six singles, a stolen base, a hit batter, a passed ball and a wild pitch helped Brainerd overcome a 7-3 deficit. Adam Pettersen led off with a single followed by singles from Jeff Lockwood, Trey Lucas and Jared McDonald. Nick Debaisse was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to drive in a run.
Brainerd pitcher Alex Kalgorides prepared to throw during Tuesday's Blue Thunder game against Eau Claire at Mills Field in Brainerd. Kalgorides didn't figure in the decision but was named to the Northwoods League All-Star game. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"Basically it just took some momentum," said McDonald, who finished 2-for-5 with three runs. "We had guys on first and second and nobody out and a run in already. We just went from there. (Drew Leary) didn't have ungodly stuff today. It was just fastballs and we hit them and got some help with some hit-by-pitches."
Leary registered just one out in the seventh before being yanked. He relieved Express starter Chris Odegaard, who held Brainerd to three runs, five hits and two walks through six innings.
With one out in the seventh, Curtis Restko, who tallied three RBIs, singled in McDonald. Debaisse scored on the passed ball and Kyle Sisney scored on a wild pitch. Devon Ramirez singled in Restko.
"We don't have a lot of bashers in our lineup, but we have some guys who can run and put the ball in play, " said assistant coach Brandon Bailey, who was filling in for the absent Jeff Cammann. "When we do have a big inning it's when guy after guy after guy find ways to get on base."
Before the seventh Brainerd committed four errors, including two in the third, which helped Eau Claire take a 4-2 edge. Another Brainerd error in the sixth resulted in a three-run inning for the Express.
That forced Bailey to spell Brainerd starter Alex Kalgorides. The all-star pitcher allowed seven runs, but only three were earned. He gave up six hits and three walks and struck out three.
Michael Gedman came in and settled things down. In 3 2-3 innings he struck out two, walked one and allowed no earned runs on four hits.
Blue Thunder 9, Eau Claire 8
Key: A six-run seventh inning helped Brainerd eclipse a four-run deficit
Overall: Brd 1-4, EC 1-3
Next: Brainerd hosts Rochester at Mills Field 6:35 p.m. Wednesday.
"Mike has pitched with so much courage and all that kind of stuff all season long," said Bailey. "I was ready to take him out in the seventh because I didn't want to over use him, but he said, 'coach if we tie I'm going to go back out.' You just have to tip the cap to him."
Gedman pitched a one, two, three ninth to seal the win, Brainerd's first of the second half.
"It's coming," said McDonald. "We've been playing well and have been in each and every ball game these last two days. We finally just hung on and we made the push at the end instead of the other team."
Notes: Former Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan was in attendance at Mills Field Friday.
Eau Claire 013 003 010 - 8 10 2
Brainerd 020 001 60x - 9 11 5
Eau Claire: Chris Odegaard, Drew Leary (7), Ryan Otto (7) and Dominic Piazza.
Brainerd: Alex Kalgorides, Michael Gedman ((6) and Troy Lucas.
W: Gedman (4-1). L: Leary (0-1).
2B: EC-Robbie Knight, Kole Calhoun, Joe Bonfe; Brd-Greg Garcia.
S: EC-Brooks Pinckard, Knight 2; Brd-Kyle Sisney
SB: EC-Ryan Lee 3, Ryan O'Sullivan; Brd-Adam Pettersen, Curtis Restko.
RBI: EC-Knight, Calhoun 2, Bonfe 2, Piazza, Russell Hopkins; Brd-Lucas, Nick DeBaisse, Restko 3, Devon Ramirez
LOB: Brd 8, EC 10
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