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Resorters baseball: Bluedogs look for ways to take the next step

The Brandon-Evansville Bluedogs have set their sights on a state tournament berth the last few seasons, and it was a disappointing ending for this group after losing a heartbreaker last Friday and coming up short of that goal again.

Nelson
Brandon-Evansville’s Lee Nelson takes a cut at a ball against Millerville on June 13. Nelson had a good summer for the Bluedogs, hitting .342 with eight doubles and 26 RBIs. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Brandon-Evansville Bluedogs have set their sights on a state tournament berth the last few seasons, and it was a disappointing ending for this group after losing a heartbreaker last Friday and coming up short of that goal again.

“It is never a good feeling losing in the region tournament,” the Bluedogs’ Mike Bruns said. “For us, the season always comes to fruition in the region tournament. There are a lot of teams in the state who don’t understand the dynamic of competing for a state tournament in region play, so we can be thankful we have the ability to at least compete at that level.”
Brandon-Evansville has had chances the last few years and did again this year. The Bluedogs led Urbank-Parkers Prairie 6-4 in the late innings last Friday before it slipped away in a 7-6 loss in 10 frames. That ended their season two wins shy of state.
“We always feel like we have a chance entering the region tournament, but the past couple years we have had to deal with a lot more injuries, especially to our pitching staff,” Bruns said. “It is a sign that we are getting older, and there is really not much you can do to change that.”
The one thing Bruns said the team will try to do is find a few more young players to help supplement a team that has talented veterans. That might be a little more difficult with the addition of Millerville to the league as the Millers feature a lot of those young players who recently came through the Brandon-Evansville High School system.
“If we can find a way to infuse our roster with some more young talent and get through a summer with all our pitchers healthy, we’ll have a great chance again,” Bruns said. “Entering next season, a lot of our roster will be over the age of 30.
“We know our window is closing and we are not the team we were in 2009 or even 2011, but we still like to compete. Our region has always fared pretty well at the state tournament, so we know that advancing out of Region 16C is quite an accomplishment. We hope to do it one more time before it is all said and done.”
The Bluedogs finished the summer with another winning record at 16-7, but for the first time in a while they didn’t win a Resorters West Division title. That went to Urbank-Parkers Prairie as the Bombers won both the regular season and tournament championships.
That’s the level Brandon-Evansville hopes to get back to again in the 2015 season.
“Urbank had our number this year, beating us all four times,” Bruns said. “We played a lot of games shorthanded as life got in the way for a few of our players this summer, but we competed well. We were able to have a full and relatively healthy roster for the region tournament, and we knocked off the Midway Snurdbirds in region play, which is always rewarding since they won the Class C title in 2010. Overall, we won a lot more games than we lost, and we look forward to 2015.”

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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