SOBIESKI -- Jason King is the epitome of a draftee's value to an amateur baseball team.
The Sobieski Skis' draft pick from Randall can pitch, catch and hit.
King did all three Sunday as the Skis won the Region 8C state qualifying game with a 7-2 victory over the Brainerd Braves.
King caught the first six-plus innings and went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, two singles and three RBI. He then pitched two perfect innings in relief of starter Simon Waltman, retiring the side in the seventh after Brainerd had loaded the bases.
Against the wall
The Region 8C tournament is down to three teams. The Braves face Avon at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sobieski. The winner faces Sobieski at 4 p.m. in the title game.
The former Little Falls High School and University of North Dakota player said he didn't mind moving from behind the plate to the mound.
"It's not that tough," King said. "You're good and loose behind the plate anyway so it's not that big of a difference to me."
A pair of three-run innings made the difference for Sobieski. The Skis tagged Brainerd starter Tony Whitlock for seven earned runs and 10 hits in four innings.
"I asked (Whitlock) what was going on and he said they just were hitting his pitches," Braves manager Derek Owen said. "He's been on all year. Guys were bound to hit him around one game. That's what happened here.
"We didn't help him out by making a few dumb plays on defense. That makes him have to throw more strikes. Then he can't nibble like he usually does, so he's trying to get outs by throwing the ball over the plate.
"Hats off to them. They hit the ball. They don't sit back and look for walks. They swing the bat."
Waltman benefited from the run support. In six-plus innings he limited the Braves to two earned runs, walked one and struck out four on a muggy day. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first with a double play.
"He was good," King said of Waltman. "He wasn't as good as last week. He wasn't spotting up as well but he was tough."
So was King. He drove in the Skis' first run with an RBI single to left.
In the third he hit a two-run homer down the left-field line. Sobieski's Isaac Smeija homered to right-center on the next pitch to give the Skis a 4-0 edge.
"It was a 1-2 count," King said. "He threw me a slider. I got it a little off the end but I hit it enough to go, I guess."
The Skis added three runs in the fourth for a 7-0 lead on RBI doubles by Lonnie Hutchins, Nate Olson and Jon Czech.
Brainerd broke through in the fourth for its only runs, scoring on a wild pitch and on a sacrifice fly by Chase Nelson.
Nelson, who replaced Whitlock to start the fifth, retired 11 straight batters at one point. He did not allow a run, struck out six, walked none and gave up two singles.
Tournament note: If the Braves beat Avon 1 p.m. Saturday they clinch a state berth. The winner plays Sobieski 4 p.m. Saturday for state seeding.
Sobieski 103 300 000 -- 7 12 3
Braves 000 200 000 -- 2 8 2
Skis-Simon Waltman, Jason King (7), Kevin Mertens (9) and Jason King. Brd-Tony Whitlock, Chase Nelson (5) and Jamie LaDouceur. W-Waltman. L-Whitlock.
2B-Skis, Nate Olson, Jon Czech, Lonnie Hutchins. HR-Skis, King, Isaac Smeija. SB-Skis-Nate Olson 2, Waltman, Joe Thoma. Sac-Skis-Waltman; Brd-Nelson. RBI-Skis-King 3, Smeija, Olson, Jon Czech, Hutchins; Brd-Nelson. LOB-Skis 6, Brd 10. DP-Skis.
Next game-Brainerd vs. Avon/Buckman winner 1 p.m. Saturday at Sobieski.
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.