WINSTED, LESTER PRAIRIE, MN After a pitching performance unmatched in recent history, Winsted’s Tony Kley was named MVP of the Minnesota Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament after leading the Plato Bluejays to the championship.
Kley, who was drafted by Plato after the Winsted Wildcats were knocked out of the Region 7C tournament, was the winning pitcher in four out of the Bluejays five victories, including three wins in the last three days of the tournament.
Perhaps most incredibly, he pitched 14 innings on Monday, the final day of the tournament, to win the final two games for Plato.
Kley opened the tournament by throwing eight shutout innings in a 3-0 win over Lamberton Saturday, Aug. 29. He gave up just four hits, walked one, and struck out 15.
The hard-throwing righty followed it up by pitching Plato to a win in their second game of the tournament Saturday, Sept. 5, again throwing eight shutout innings in a 6-0 win over New London-Spicer. He gave up five hits, walked one, and struck out 10.
Plato then defeated Cannon Falls in the quarterfinals, 8-5, on the morning of Sunday, Sept. 6. Three pitchers not named Kley combined for the victory.
The Bluejays then faced Nisswa later that same day in the semifinals. Starting pitcher Adam Prehn gave up two runs through four innings, and Plato trailed 2-0 in the fourth, when the game was postponed until Monday due to rain.
When the game picked up Monday morning, Kley was back on the mound, and in his usual form. He threw five scoreless innings, giving up just two hits while striking out four, allowing Plato to come back to win the game, 3-2.
That win, Kley’s third of the tourney, set the Bluejays up in the championship game Monday afternoon against Region 7C foe Green Isle, who had come back to defeat Howard Lake 13-7 in the semifinals.
Plato’s Chris Odegaard started the final game on the hill, but was unable to get a single out, giving up two walks and a three-run homer in the first inning to put his team down 3-0.
The Bluejays once again turned to Kley, and despite pitching five innings earlier in the day, and eight innings two days before, Kley once again delivered.
He went a full nine innings in the championship game, giving up three runs (his only three of the tournament) on three hits and two walks, while striking out seven. By holding the Irish in check, he allowed Plato to come back to win the championship game 14-6.
His statline for the tournament: 30 innings pitched, 14 hits, 3 runs, 5 walks and 36 strikeouts. He pitched 21 scoreless innings in his first three games, and finished with a 0.90 ERA (Earned Run Average).
It was, without question, a performance for the ages.