Marshall Legion downs Cottonwood

MARSHALL – A slow start by the Marshall American Legion baseball team was erased by a big inning in the Mudcats’ 13-8 win over Cottonwood on Tuesday in Marshall.

“Offensively we had to do a better job of getting guys into those spots,” said Marshall head coach Jeremy Ische. “We had too many guys with a chance to drive a run in popping the ball up in the infield.”

Marshall batted 12 and scored eight runs in the third inning to break the game open after Cottonwood had built a 5-1 lead after 2.

“We hit the ball, plain and simple,” said Cottonwood head coach Mike Rausch. “The top of our order really hit the ball well and we played really good defense.”

In the first inning Randy Louwagie and Cory Schrier each drove in a run for Cottonwood to open with a 2-0 lead. Louwagie was able to work around a leadoff single by Drew Hmielewski to keep the Mudcats off the board.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” said Louwagie. “We had our heads in the game to start. I was throwing strikes, picking the corners.”

Cottonwood added three more runs in the second inning, taking advantage of three walks, a pair of hits and a sacrifice.

Marshall got on the board when Jon Kor scored on a Carl Douglas single, but Cottonwood led 5-1 after 2.

Marshall used a pitching by committee approach, and Leo Zerr pitched the third, keeping Cottonwood off the board.

“We just ran seven different guys out there so I get a look,” Ische said. “Overall it was good.”

In the third inning Hmielewski led off with a walk and reached second on an error that allowed Zerr to reach first.

A Matt Campion walk, followed by a passed ball allowed Hmielewski, who was 3-for-3 with three runs scored, two RBI and a walk, to score the first run of the inning. Derek Buysse added a two-run single to cut the Cottonwood lead to one.

“We wanted to attack the ball, hit it hard and hope for the best,” said Hmielewski.

A wild pitch and passed ball after Jon Kor walked led to Derek Buysse scoring on a balk to tie the game.

Nolan Schaeffer walked with Kor on third, and a delayed double steal ended with Kor sliding under the tag at home.

“We had a bunch of mental errors and those are the ones you try to preach,” Rausch said. “We get killed by the mental errors.”

RBI from Mason Campion, Hmielewski and Zerr gave Marshall a 9-5 lead at the bottom of the third inning.

“It was a matter of time before they were going to break through on that guy,” said Ische. “We haven’t really hit in a while.”

Cottonwood added a run in the fourth when Wyatt Schuster scored on a Travis Varpness sacrifice, but the Mudcats would score four more runs in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of four hits and an error, to take a commanding 13-6 lead.

“We used the momentum and energy from the dugout to help our guys at the plate,” Hmielewski said. “Let them do the work.”

Cottonwood scored two in the top of the sixth to cut the lead back to five, but Marshall would hold on to the 13-8 win.

“We hung with them, we only lost by five and it was the mental block that we were playing Marshall,” said Rausch. “It’s a good experience and it’s a stepping stone.”

Marshall (2-0) will host the U.S. Bank Wood Bat Classic starting Friday, with games at both Legion Field and Alumni Field at Southwest Minnesota State University, while Cottonwood (0-3) will travel to Minneota.

“With the wood it will be more of a small-ball kind of mentality,” said Ische. “We have some guys that can run, we have some guys that can handle the bat.

“If we can pitch well and play defense, I think we have a chance.”

Cottonwood 230 102 0 – 8 8 4

Marshall 018 040 x – 13 10 1

C-Randy Louwagie, Wyatt Schuster (3). M-Carl Douglas, Riley Roth (2), Leo Zerr (3), Drew Hmielewski (4), Colton Peterson (5), Jared Holland (6), Conner Messman (6). WP-Zerr. LP-Louwagie. 2B: M-Matt Campion, Mason Campion.