By PAT KRAUSE
Hurley — The Hurley Midgets played well but fell to a tough Tomahawk team 5-4 in non-conference action on Saturday morning.
With the game tied at 4-4 after six innings, the Hatchets pushed across what turned out to be the winning run in the seventh inning. In Hurley's last-at-bat, the Midgets had runners on second and third but couldn't get the crucial hit to bring them in.
"It was a close, competitive game," Hurley manager Aaron Bender said. "They are a very good team. We played real well and had good defense and we did a better job hitting the ball. We just couldn't get that last hit."
The Midgets jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third inning. To start the rally, freshman Dante Bender singled up the middle and Hurley drew some walks. Cole Huotari, Steven Chavers, Beau Shafer and and Roman Lupino singled and drove in the four runs.
The Hatchets plated two runs in the fourth off Bender after the lefty had shut down Tomahawk for three innings.
Hurley had runners on base in both the fourth and fifth innings but could not bring them to the plate.
In the sixth inning, Tomahawk used the bunt to score two more runs.
"Our only struggle was we didn't handle their bunts well," Bender said. "They had three bunts and we couldn't complete the plays. It cost us in the sixth."
Brad Vaara led the Hurley hitting attack by going 2-3 and Damian Nickel was 1-2 with a double.
Bender pitched the first three innings and gave up two runs. He also walked two and whiffed one batter. Jared Wendt came on in relief and went the final four innings. He gave up three runs (two earned) while issuing three walks and had 3Ks.
"Our pitching has been the difference in playing good baseball," Bender said. "From Thursday through Saturday, we only had 12 walks in five games. Throwing strikes give us our best chance for success."
Hurley (7-8, 5-1 IC) travels to Ironwood today for a 3:30 doubleheader that has conference and the usual rivalry implications.
"It's always a big game for our kids when we play the Red Devils," Bender said. "It doesn't matter if both teams are on top or on the bottom of the conference. It's for bragging rights. And both of us are sitting on top of the (Indianhead) conference, so it's real important there."
Ironwood was 6-0 in conference play going into their games on Saturday with Washburn.