BLUE EARTH - The Cannon Falls Bears defeated the Blue Earth Pirates twice during the weekend to earn the Region 4 championship and a spot in the 2012 Minnesota Class 'C' amateur baseball state tournament.
The Pirates (30-5), who finished as the No. 2 seed, will face Chanhassen at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud during first-round state action.
Cannon Falls (22-15) received a first-round bye and awaits the winner between Maple Plaine and Bertha at 11 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 26, at Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud. Maple Plaine plays Bertha in a first-round game at 5 p.m. Saturday.
The Bears won in the semifinals of the double-elimination regional by defeating Blue Earth 4-3 last Saturday to advance to the championship.
The Pirates earned their place in the championship by bouncing back on Sunday to beat the Waterville Indians 13-5 in the consolation bracket semifinals before losing to Cannon Falls a second time, 5-0.
Blue Earth scored three runs in the top of the first inning in Game 1 against the Bears to get out to a quick 3-0 lead.
T.J. Schmidtke hit a double, and advanced to third on T.J. Stallman's single. Justin Schaible singled to plate Schmidtke before Kane Malo's hit scored Stallman and Schaible, giving the Pirates a 3-0 lead.
The Bears, however, scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning.
Cannon Falls' Nate Otto delivered a bases-loaded double to score three runs to tie the game for the Bears. Otto later scored the game-winning run on Luke Winchell's RBI fielder's choice.
Blue Earth starting pitcher Lee Hodges pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing all four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take the loss. Cody Sukalski came in to get a double play to get out of a jam for the Pirates and pitched the final 2 2/3 innings.
Blue Earth rebounded and defeated Waterville 13-5 in its next game to earn a rematch in the championship with the Bears.
Cannon Falls' Cory Hedeen then fired an eight-hit complete-game shutout to blank Blue Earth, 5-0, in the regional championship game.
Hedeen recorded seven strikeouts without issuing a walk in nine scoreless innings to earn the victory.
Otto walked to lead off the bottom of the first inning for the Bears, stole second and advanced to third on an error. Another Blue Earth error sent Otto home for the first run of the game.
Taylor Pagel led off the second inning with a solo home run to add to the Bears' lead. Keith Meyers walked, stole second and late scored on Pagel's sacrifice fly to center to make it 3-0.
Luke Winchell and Rich Burr added two runs in the fifth, making it a 5-0 game to give the Bears the easy win.
Matt Samerow, a draftee from Morristown, pitched four innings for the Pirates, allowing five runs on three hits and striking out one to take the loss.
Sukalski came in and pitched the final four innings, allowing three hits and striking out two for Blue Earth.
CF 000 000 400 - 4 9 0
BE 300 000 000 - 3 7 1
Keith Meyers (WP), Luke Winchell (7) and Taylor Pagel. Lee Hodges (LP), Cody Sukalski (7) and T.J. Stallman.
BE 000 000 000 - 0 8 3
CF 120 020 00x - 5 6 0
Matt Samerow (LP), Cody Sukalski (5) and T.J. Stallman. Cory Hedeen (WP) and Taylor Pagel.