EMMETSBURG - "Third time's the charm" may be an old clich, but it's often true.
Estherville Lincoln Central avenged two 10-run losses to Emmetsburg by ousting the E'Hawks 3-1 in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs on Saturday.
ELC senior Joe Clayton limited the E'Hawks just four hits while striking out seven batters and walking two.
ELC senior Joe Clayton limited Emmetsburg to four hits as the Midgets won the Class 2A District first-round game on Saturday. The Midgets will face North Union at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Emmetsburg.
"Joe threw an exceptional game tonight," said ELC coach lee Evans. "He worked ahead in the count most of the night and his change-up was on."
ELC (12-18) advances to the next round against North Union (24-6) who had a first-round bye. The two teams meet in Emmetsburg at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The Warriors have a pair of one-run wins over ELC this season-4-3 on May 22 and 7-6 on June 16.
On Saturday, the Midget offense came up with a pair of runs in the first inning and scratched out an insurance run in the fourth.
"The key we talked about all week was getting a lead early," said Evans. "We knew runs would be tough to come by after scoring just one run in the first two games."
Emmetsburg won 11-1 and 10-0 in two regular season meetings this year.
The Midgets' night started well as they won the coin toss to determine who would be the home team.
After retiring the E'Hawks in order in the top of the first inning, ELC went to work.
Billy Snyder drew a leadoff walk and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Derek Nieland.
Gable Bonner singled to right to put runners at the corners.
Clayton then hit a ball to the third baseman and Snyder was hung up between third base and home.
However Bonner advanced to third on the play. Courtesy runner Riley Strenge then stole second base.
Tucker Milburn came up with the key hit of the night, a bloop hit to right field that scored both runs.
Emmetsburg got one run back in the top of the second as Jake Jackson reached base on a one-out error and then stole second base. A single by Greg Wesley put runners at the corners. On a pickoff play, ELC got Wesley out as Jackson came home to score. But the Midgets got out of the inning with no further damage.
"We didn't let one mistake turn into several," said Evans.
ELC had another key defensive play in the top of the fourth inning. Ryan Kleigel led off by reaching base on ELC's second error. Clayton then retired Taylor Wagner and Jake Jackson on strikes. Kleigel had stolen second base, but then tried to steal third and was thrown out by catcher Evan Hansen as Milburn made the tag.
ELC added an insurance run in the fourth inning without using a hit.
Milburn was hit by pitch and Matt Burrell drew a walk. A passed ball allowed the runners to advance. With one out, Justin Frederick hit a grounder to second base that allowed Carsten Bosch, pinch running for Milburn, to score.
Emmetsburg threatened again in the sixth inning as Clayton faced the top of the E'Hawk lineup. Brady Berkland singled and stole second. But then Jake Carlson popped up in foul territory with Clayton running in to make the catch. Kliegl then drew a walk and stole second. But Clayton struck out Wagner for the third time to get the second out. Jackson then popped up in foul territory with Clayton again coming in to make the catch.
In the top of the seventh, Greg Wesley led off with a shallow fly ball to right field. ELC's Tyler Swanson ran a long ways to try to make the catch, but the ball popped out of his glove.
A base running erro then proved costly for the E'Hawks. Joe Jackson singled to right-center field and after the throw went to third base to try to get Wesely, Jackson took off for second. Milburn threw to shortstop Burrell covering second who made the tag for the first out.
Clayton then recorded his seventh strikeout on No. 8 batter Luke Jackson.
The game ended as Aaron Bird flew out to centerfielder Derek Nieland.
Clayton gave up two walks in the contest.
ELC had four hits with Bonner going 2-3. Milburn was 1-2 with two RBIs and Adam Reiter was 1-3.