The Mora Blue Devils opened region 1C tournament play Saturday, Aug. 3 at Brennan Field in Hinckley. A successful weekend ensued as Mora won two close games to move within one victory of the state amateur baseball tournament.
In the opening game of the tournament Mora took on a scrappy East Bethel team. The Bandits jumped on starter Ryan VanSomeren for an early run in the first inning. Mora answered back immediately on a Darin Erickson sacrifice fly driving in Brian Kiel to make it 1-1.
East Bethel scored two more in the second to retake the lead, but once again Mora answered with a run. Logan Graves drove in Hunter Foss with an RBI double and the deficit was 3-2 after the second inning.
Mora tied the game in the third on a Foss sacrifice fly bringing in Erickson and the game was knotted at 3-3. Both starting pitchers settled in after the early runs and the score remained the same until the eighth inning.
The Devils put up three runs without the benefit of a hit. Mora took advantage of three East Bethel errors, a walk and three hit batters.
Derek Graves came in to get the last out of the eighth and close the game out in the ninth inning to pick up the win in relief securing the 6-3 win. VanSomeren pitched well going seven and two thirds innings scattering 10 hits, striking out six and walking just one.
On Sunday, Aug. 4, Mora took on North Branch, who had won on Saturday over Ramsey 2-1 in 10 innings. Pitchers once again controlled the game with Mora coming out on top in a tight one 2-1.
Derek Graves was the story of the game all around. Graves went all nine innings to pick up the win. Graves struck out 11 allowing just four hits and two walks. He also went three for four at the plate with a double.
Mora took the lead in the second inning as Brian Kiel delivered a two out RBI single driving in Adam Burgess. The lead was extended in the sixth inning to 2-0 as Darin Erickson drove in Graves with an RBI single.
Things got dicey in the ninth inning as the Nighthawks scored a run with two outs and had the tying run on second base. Graves induced a ground out to end the game and secure the win.
With the two wins Mora improved to 16-6 on the season and will play Friday, Aug. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Hinckley against a very good Isanti Redbird team. A win would move Mora to the region championship game on Sunday, Aug. 11 at 2:00 p.m. and secure a state tournament berth. A loss would mean Mora would play at 11:00 a.m. on Sunday in a state qualifying game. All games will be at Brennan Field in Hinckley. For more information go to easternminny.com.