EMMETSBURG - The third time wasn't the charm for Estherville Lincoln Central against North Union on Tuesday.
The Midgets had lost their first two meetings with the Warriors by a run-4-3 on May 22 and 7-6 on June 16.
In both those games, North Union took the early lead and ELC rallied before losing.
North Union’s Cody Runksmeier dives safely back to first base as ELC’s Gable Bonner snags the ball on the attempted pickoff play.
EDN photo by Chloe Rosdail
Tuesday's district game in Emmetsburg followed a similar pattern.
The Warriors took a 6-0 lead before ELC finally put up three runs in the fourth inning. However North Union ace Sawyer Doocy only allowed two base runners the final three innings as the Warriors won 6-3.
North Union (26-6) advances to Saturday's Class 2A District Final against Alta-Aurelia, who defeated Sioux Central 5-0. That game is at 7 p.m. at Emmetsburg.
On Tuesday, ELC had a chance to take an early lead.
Derek Nieland hit a one-out single and went to second when Gable Bonner grounded out to Doocy.
Joe Clayton then singled to center field and Nieland tried to score on the play. But North Union's Garrett Johnson made the throw in time to catcher Jake Adams to get Nieland out at the plate.
The Warriors scored their first runs of the game in the top of the second.
Johnson and Cody Runksmeier both hit one-out singles and a double to left-centerfield by Alex Deitering scored one run. The second run scored when Brandon Kollasch hit a ball to ELC second baseman Billy Snyder. Snyder tried to throw home but was late as the run scored.
In the third inning, the Warriors added two their lead. Evan Hagebock hit a leadoff double and Brett Thackery reached base when the Midgets committed their first error of the night.
With runners on second and third, Johnson hit a sacrifice fly to right field.
With two outs, ELC starter Clayton then gave up two walks to load the bases. A single by Kollasch scored two more runs.
Tucker Milburn then entered the game in relief of Clayton, who had pitched a complete game against Emmetsburg on Saturday.
"Joe pitched strong the first two innings, but I think he got tired," said ELC coach Lee Evans.
Milburn got Adams to ground out to first baseman Gable Bonner to end the inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, Hagebock singled, stole second base and scored on a single by Doocy for the Warriors' final run of the game.
ELC went to work in the bottom of the fourth as Clayton took advantage of the Warriors' first error with one out. Milburn followed with a single and Matt Burrell drew a walk to load the bases.
Adam Reiter, Tyler Swanson and Corey Reeves then hit consecutive infield singles as ELC plated three runs.
North Union coach Chad Slagle went out to talk to his pitcher at that point. Doocy responded by striking out the top of ELC's order-Billy Snyder and Nieland.
"In that inning, we had our chances," said Evans. "But give Doocy credit, he struck out the top of our order. We just needed to put the ball in play. One good hit and it could have been a different game."
ELC didn't have another base runner until Justin Frederick hit a two-out single in the sixth inning. Nieland drew a one-out walk in the top of the seventh. But ELC's season ended as Bonner struck out and Clayton hit a grounder with the Warriors taking the force at second base.
North Union finished with seven hits. Hagebock was 2-4 while Kollasch was 1-3 with three RBIs. Alex Deitering was 1-2 with an RBI and Johnson was 1-3 with an RBI. Runksmeier was 1-2 and Doocy was 1-4.
Doocy finished the night with nine strikeouts and three walks in the win.
ELC finished with seven hits. Frederick and Swanson each were 1-1 while Reeves was 1-2, Nieland, Reiter and Milburn were 1-3 and Clayton was 1-4.
Clayton took the loss. In 2 2/3 innings he gave up five hits with two strikeouts and two walks. Milburn closed out the game. He gave up two hits with two strikeouts and five walks.
The Midgets bid farewell to seniors Joe Clayton and Gable Bonner.
"Joe and Gable have been our leaders, but in different ways,"?said Evans. "They'll be missed. Joe's been our top pitcher and Gable's been one of our leading hitters the last two years. We wish them well in whatever they choose to do."
ELC wraps up the season with a 12-19 record.
"We weren't as consistent as we wanted to be this year," said Evans. "We'll sit down as a team and set some goals for next seaosn."