Licking their wounds
MARSHALL – For a team making its home debut on Tuesday, the Marshall Tigers baseball club seldom looked comfortable during a Southwest Conference doubleheader with the Luverne Cardinals. The Tigers committed five errors and scored just two runs over the twin bill at Legion Field, as Luverne earned the sweep 9-2 and 8-0.
Four of the errors came in the opening game with five of Luverne’s nine runs resulting from Marshall miscues.
“You give a good team like that extra outs and they’re going to take advantage of it,” said Marshall head coach Chace Pollock. “And that’s exactly what they did. That’s not helping us out at all.”
Marshall had jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in Game 1 when Austin Saugstad scored on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the first. Luverne responded with a two-run top of the third before the Tigers tied the game at 2-2 on a squeeze play in the bottom of the inning. Riley Roth laid a bunt down the third-base line, allowing Saugstad to score on the throw over to first.
After a scoreless fourth inning, things started to unravel for the Tigers. A fielding error and throwing error were responsible for all three Luverne runs in the top of the fifth and an errant pickoff attempt led to an unearned run in the sixth.
The Tigers struggled as much with mental errors as they did with scorebook errors in the game; missing signs, throwing to the wrong base or not throwing at all, each put the Tigers further behind the Cardinals.
“It’s just a mental deal, we needed to be mentally focused,” Pollock said. “That starts with myself as a coach and everybody on the bench. Any mental errors, I take full ownership in that. We’ve got to get better and there’s no one else to point the finger at than me.”
Aaron Mathiowetz took the loss for the Tigers. Of the seven runs he allowed in his 5 1/3 innings pitched, just three were earned. He also struck out three and walked three. Saugstad scored both Marshall runs and finished the opener 1-for-3 with a walk. Colton Peterson had the only multiple-hit game for Marshall, going 2-for-4.
Skyler Wenninger was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI for Luverne in Game 1, while Jonny Solma finished 3-for-4 and drove in a run as well. Reed Skattum allowed six hits over seven innings of duty for the Cardinals, fanning four and walking five.
In the nightcap, the Tiger bats never really got going as Marshall scattered six hits over seven innings against Luverne starter Gunnar Olson. Marshall’s best chance to score came in the top of the third when Mathiowetz belted a ball into right field, but Roth was thrown out at home while trying to score from second.
“We just weren’t putting good swings on the ball at all,” Pollock said. “That’s the bottom line, if you don’t hit the ball hard anywhere you’re not going to be rewarded for it. We certainly didn’t deserve any extra hits in that second game.”
Along with stifling the Marshall bats for a complete-game shutout victory, Olson also did damage at the plate. The junior scored three runs, knocked in a run and went 3-for-3. Matt Overgaard, who gunned down Roth from right field, was 2-for-3 with a two-RBI double as well.
Luverne struck for three runs off four hits in the first. An error and back-to-back singles scored two runs in the third, while Solma crossed home on a passed ball to make the score 6-0 in the fourth. The Cardinals plated their final two runs off of Overgaard’s double to deep center in the sixth.
Colton Peterson took the loss for Marshall, giving up five runs (four earned) off six hits and three walks over three innings. Jared Holland pitched one inning of relief, while Roth threw the final six outs for the Tigers.
With five games this week, Marshall was hoping to use as few arms as possible on Tuesday. They had five pitchers take the mound, though Roth appeared for three total innings over the two games.
“It’s one of those deals, everybody’s going through it. One game maybe you get a full complete game and that’s what we were hoping for, getting some quality outings out of some kids,” Pollock said. “We got a little bit out of (Mathiowetz) that first game and we got a little out of Colton that second one, but then we had to go to the pen and figure some things out from there. We’ve got to piece it together for Thursday and go from there.”
Following the sweep, the Tigers have now lost four games in a row and drop to 3-6 overall (2-4 SWC). Marshall will return to Legion Field to host Pipestone for a doubleheader on Thursday.