By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hibbing entered their Class 3A quarterfinal match Thursday as a big underdog, facing the number one seed in St Cloud Tech. But there was some Blue Jacket magic, and one proud uncle understood it all very well.

Denny Blumberg was in the stands, supporting his alma mater in the quarterfinals match. He’s 44 years removed from his senior season. When it was over, four players on his team had a chance to play professional ball. He and his catcher signed quickly.

“I said, ‘If I can get some money to go to college, buy a car and put some money in the bank, we’ve got a deal,'” he said. “The next day, we were both flying down to Florida to play in rookie ball.”

Now, there is another pitcher in the family taking center stage — nephew Travis Carruth, who is well aware of his uncle’s legacy.

“I know he was in the professional league and bounced around with the Pirates in Texas, but I know he was a great pitcher and he’s taught me a lot,” Carruth said. “I could hear him yelling up there the whole game, too.”

Caruth’s mission was to beat the number-one-ranked, unbeaten St. Cloud Tech team, who he’d never faced before.

“I’ve been watching him since he was 2 years old, and I just love the kid,” Blumberg said. “He’s a great athlete. He was the star for the Hibbing basketball team — he averaged about 25 points per game. He’s the starting quarterback on the football team, and as you can see, he’s the ace on the Hibbing baseball team.”

He delivered, giving up hits, but never giving in. They found a way to win — the upset of the tournament.

“It’s unreal,” Carruth said. “Being the underdog like that, it’s a great feeling.”

It was a day they will not forget — doing it for Hibbing, and for his uncle who came before him.

“He’s proud of me, he’s one of my biggest fans,” Carruth said.

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