Tigers put stop to slide
MARSHALL – Derek Buysse was a combined 6-for-8 with three doubles, three runs scored and seven RBIs as the Marshall Tigers swept a Southwest Conference doubleheader against the Pipestone Area Arrows on Friday by scores of 8-1 and 9-6. The Tigers totaled 20 hits in their two wins and snapped a four-game skid in the process.
“We got over the hump and that’s nice to see,” said Marshall head coach Chace Pollock. “It’s just the type of deal where you’ve got to start fresh and work our way through it, battle through. During the season you’re going to go through your peaks and your valleys and we just had to find a way to get out of a funk.”
The Tigers dropped a pair of games to conference rival Luverne during their home opener at Legion Field on Tuesday. According to Buysse, part of the secret to Friday’s turnaround was as simple as having more fun at the ballpark.
“A little more talking in the dugout, I’d say,” Buysse said of the change. “One thing (coach Pollock) said is we have to hit the ball hard to win.”
Buysse led the charge in that department, as three of his six hits were doubles to the outfield wall. Marshall’s third baseman roped a two-run, two-bagger for his first hit of the day to give Marshall a 3-1 lead in the first inning of Game 1. He later knocked in three runs on another double to put the Tigers up 8-1 in the bottom of the fifth.
Only one player who had more than one at-bat for the Tigers on Friday recorded a hit in the sweep.
“I was very pleased with everyone in the lineup today,” Pollock said. “They all hit the ball hard, I thought it was a very nice job at the plate.”
Colton Peterson was 3-for-3, scoring twice and driving in a run, while Leo Zerr went hitless in the opener but still brought home two scores.
Conner Mesman picked up the win for the Tigers on the mound, allowing just one hit in five innings of relief work. He also struck out seven and walked none after taking over for starter Jared Holland in the top of the third.
Marshall looked to be coasting towards another big win in Game 2, leading 5-1 with the bases loaded and no outs in the top of the fourth. The Tigers were only able to bring in one duck off the pond, however, as a key strike out and two fly-ball got Pipestone out of a jam.
The Arrows attempted a comeback in the bottom half of the inning, striking for four runs off of four hits, including three doubles, against Marshall starter Drew Hmielewski. The freshman had allowed just one hit prior to the inning, but was relieved by Zerr for the final out of the fourth.
Zerr struck out Eric Buffington to end the threat and preserve the lead for the Tigers at 6-5. He struck out five total batters in his 3 1/3 innings of work, allowing one run off of two hits and three walks and earning the victory.
“All our pitchers today did a nice job,” Pollock said. “Up until the fourth inning of that second game, we had only given up a couple of hits. The guys did a nice job of keeping the ball down in the zone. I was very pleased with everybody on the mound today.”
Marshall added three runs in the top of the sixth to ultimately secure the win.
Zerr drew a walk and Jalen Wittrock entered as a courtesy runner. Buysse followed with his third double of the day to put runners on second and third with one out.
“After that we had momentum going. We got a few guys on and used some bunts to score some easy runs,” Buysse said.
The bunt he spoke of was a safety squeeze by Riley Roth, which scored Wittrock. Nate Hoeft singled in Buysse and Roth to put the Tigers up 9-5.
Roth’s bunt was Marshall’s second squeeze of the game, both resulting in runs. Marshall also bunted for four other singles on the day, taking advantage of the long grass in the Legion Field infield.
“We teach and we preach that if you put the ball on the ground you can leg them out at any given time,” Pollock said. “It’s always easier for us to have them pick it up and throw it rather than have them catch it. We work on that a lot. Any thing we can get on the ground will do.”
Hmielewski was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a stolen base in the night cap, while Aaron Mathiowetz scored a run, swiped two bags and drilled a double in Game 2.
The Tigers (5-6 overall, 4-4 SWC) are back on the diamond today for a non-conference game with defending Section 3AA champion Fairmont. First pitch at Legion Field is scheduled for 11 a.m.