By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Eden Prairie (Minn.) took a 6-0 first-inning lead and defeated Carthage 7-1 in the Double A American Legion Midwest Regional tournament Thursday at Carl Lewton Stadium.
Eden Prairie will face Watertown (S.D.) in the winners’ bracket final at 4 p.m. today. Watertown advanced with a 5-4 victory against Minnetonka (Minn.) earlier Thursday.
Carthage will face Paola (Kan.) in a losers’ bracket game at 1:30 p.m. today. Paola defeated Sioux Falls (S.D.) West 6-0 in Thursday’s first game. Ste. Genevieve will play Minnetonka (Minn.) in the other losers’ bracket game at 11 a.m.
Eden Prairie (31-3) scored six runs on four hits in the first inning against Carthage with the help of defensive mistakes. The game was Carthage’s first since they played in the district tournament 2 1/2 weeks ago.
“We had opportunities every inning. We had runners in scoring position in every inning except the seventh,” said Merchants head coach Jason McVey. “We held our own.”
Eden Prairie led 2-0 and had the bases loaded when center fielder Riley Roy’s blast hit near the top of the left-field wall, to the right of the 340-foot sign down the left-field line. Roy later scored on a throwing error.
“It takes the pressure off,” said Eden Prairie head coach John Licht of the early lead. “We’ve been preaching all year to put guys away. Then we kind of put the bats away and lost focus.”
Four Eden Prairie pitchers limited Carthage to three hits. They issued six walks and struck out 15.
“That has been our strength all year, pitching and defense,” Licht said. “We have some lefties who can huck it pretty good. We have four left-handers who throw low- to mid-80s. That has been an asset all year. The good thing about it is they’re strike throwers.”
Eden Prairie lost its first game of the season, then won 24 in a row, he said. Seven players each had one hit against Carthage.
Dustin Kean scored Carthage’s run in the second inning after he drew a one-out walk. Kean advanced on Gavin Huke’s single, moved to third on a throwing error and scored on a wild pitch.
Huke, who was the Merchants’ starting pitcher, was 2-for-3 at the plate.
“We gave them eight outs in the first inning,” McVey said. “You take that away and the final score is 2-1 or 3-1. Huke did his job by throwing ground balls. We just didn’t make plays behind him.”