BERNARD, Iowa — The Bellevue Braves finished the season the same way they started it: with a championship.
Chase Kueter struck out 10 hitters and scattered three hits on Sunday afternoon to lead the Braves to a 6-0 victory over the hosts in the final of the Bernard Semi-pro Baseball Tournament. Bellevue finished the season with a 30-8 record and won four tournaments — its own to open the season, as well as Rickardsville and Zwingle. The Braves matched Farley for the most tournament titles this summer.
“I was hitting my spots, and my catcher and I worked really well together all day,” Kueter said of his former University of Dubuque batterymate, Luke Carroll. “We did a good job of mixing up pitches and mixing speeds, which kept them off balance.
“It’s pretty cool to win the first tournament of the year and end the season with another one. We had a really good year in between with a lot of local guys. It was a lot of fun.”
Kueter earned MVP accolades for the second time this summer, adding to the honor he won at the Bellevue Tournament. He also matched teammate Doug Van Dyke for most strikeouts in a Bernard tournament game.
Jake Formella gave Kueter all the offense he needed with a three-run home run off former Clarke standout Anthony Ruden in the top of the fourth inning. A former Loras College standout, Formella didn’t mind helping out an old rival.
“I’ll always be loyal to Loras, but Chase is a pretty cool guy and a heck of a pitcher,” said Formella, who has played eight games with the Braves this summer. “I wasn’t expecting it to happen, but it was pretty cool to be able to come through for the team and help Chase out.”
Corbin Ploessl added to the lead with an RBI double in the fifth inning. The Braves tacked on two more in the seventh on RBIs by Ploessl and Isaac Sturm.
Jordan Ries and Jarod Koos collected a pair of hits each to lead Bellevue’s 10-hit attack, while Jake Blunt went 2-for-3 to lead Bernard. Bellevue won the Bernard tournament for the first time in program history.
“This was a really fun summer, and it’s cool to finish the year like this,” said Bellevue co-manager Isaac Sturm. “We started the year 22-2, slumped for a little bit but finished strong again. We had a really good group of seven or eight guys who committed to playing all summer, so we never struggled for players.”