Searching for their stride
The two Marshall teams that took part in the US Bank Mid-Summer Classic Legion baseball wood bat tournament had two different experiences over the course of their three days of play.
For the Marshall Mudcats Legion team, its 1-3 record in its home tournament was a bit disappointing. An 8-1 win over eventual tournament champion Waconia on Saturday showed the potential the Mudcats possess but which they were unable to display in their other three games.
“That was a good sign,” said Marshall Mudcats coach Jeremy Ische of his team’s win over Waconia, which crushed Watertown (S.D.) 13-0 in Sunday’s championship game at Legion Field. “They’re capable of it, now they just have to put all the pieces together.
“We have a big week coming up here with New London-Spicer Wednesday and the St. Cloud tournament Thursday, Friday, Saturday, so there will be some more opportunities for the guys to get back out there and try to put it together.”
The Marshall VFW Blue team, on the other hand, was thrilled with its 2-2 finish in the eight-team tournament. Blue was filling in for a team that made the Minnesota State High School League state tournament. As the only VFW team in the field, Blue managed to go 2-1 in pool play to advance to the championship bracket. Marshall gave Waconia a good run in the consolation semfinals Sunday before falling 6-5.
Marshall Blue coach Chace Pollock said he learned a lot about his team over the weekend as it stepped up to Legion play and more than held its own.
“We proved that we can hit, we can hit with a wood bat and we can hit against good pitching,” Pollock said. “I thought we saw some good pitching this weekend and the kids reacted well to it. It’s definitely a big step forward for us as we make our way through the summer.”
Ische was also feeling good about his team after its win over Waconia Saturday morning. The Mudcats (3-3 overall) were coming off a 3-1 loss against Springield the previous evening, a game in which they only tallied one hit. Marshall pitcher CD Douglas got the Mudcats off to a positive start against Waconia, putting down Waconia batters in order over the first three innings, including striking out the side in the third.
Douglas gave up just four hits in the game and kept Waconia off the board until the top of the sixth. He only surrendered one free pass and struck out four batters for the game, facing no more than five batters in any of his seven innings of work.
“He looked good, that was fun to watch,” Ische said of Douglas. “That’s the best I’ve seen him throw, although it’s a small sample size for me. He pounded the zone and threw strikes, and with the wood bat tournament setting, that’s all you really have to do.
“He only had four strikeouts, so we made a lot of plays for him and he did very well, was very effective. He threw all seven, which in turn helped our bullpen out down the road.”
Waconia’s pitchers weren’t as effective and Marshall took advantage. The Mudcats scored their first run in the third inning when Matt Campion knocked in Drew Hmielewski on a hit that was misplayed by the left fielder. They tacked on two more runs in the fourth without getting a hit. Waconia starter Jake Stevenson walked five batters in the inning before being pulled.
The Mudcats sealed the game by scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Mason Campion had the team’s lone hit in the inning, a two-RBI single to right-center. Marshall drew five walks in the inning, had one batter get hit by a pitch and had another reach on an error.
Marshall played Willmar later that night, but was missing a few players who left for a church mission trip to West Virginia. The shorthanded Mudcats weren’t up to task against Willmar, which won 9-5 to send Marshall to the consolation bracket.
Leo Zerr and Matt Campion each had two hits for Marshall in the loss, with Campion collecting two doubles and three RBIs, and Hmielewski added a two-RBI triple in the third.
The Mudcats’ roster took another hit Sunday as a couple of players went to Mankato for basketball. With just nine players, Marshall lost to Albany 7-4 to end its tournament.
Matt Campion had a pair of doubles and three RBIs for Marshall in the loss, while Walker Werpy reach base in all four plate appearances. The Mudcats had six hits in the game.
The Marshall VFW Blue team used a pair of strong pitching performances Saturday to make its way into Sunday’s championship bracket. Connor Winkelman went the distance for Blue in a 1-0 win over Albany. He struck out one batter while holding Albany to just three hits and one walk. A sacrifice fly by Marshall’s Jack Bock in the sixth inning provided the lone run of the game.
Nate Hoeft took the ball in the next game and held Metro Fargo to six hits and a 12-3 Marshall win.
“Both kids threw well against two Legion teams,” Pollock said. “They attacked hitters, went after them and let their defense work. They threw well. Everyone this weekend, I thought, threw very well for us.”
Blue’s offense also performed well against Metro Fargo, piling up 14 hits. Noah Winkelman went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a triple and five RBIs. Dylan Criquet-Danielson also had a big game, going 3-for-4 with a double and a triple. Brent Andries and Brad Bahlmann each added two hits.
Sunday against Waconia, Marshall got off to a rough start by surrendering five runs in the opening inning. Blue responded with five runs in the fourth, but Waconia scored what turned into the winning run in the next inning for the 6-5 victory.
Marshall ended up out-hitting Waconia 10-6 for the game. Hoeft was 3-for-4 and Criquet-Danielson had a pair of hits and also tossed a complete game, striking out three and giving up one walk.
Having played in back-to-back weekend tournaments, Blue (7-5) continues its busy stretch of games today at home against Slayton.
“The kids need to play ball and they love it and are excited about it. They’re getting better, and that’s the big thing that we’re excited about,” Pollock said. “We’re busy in June and then July kind of slows down a bit until playoffs hit.”
Waconia000 001 0-1 4 1
Mudcats001 205 X-8 4 0
W-Jake Stevenson, Dylan Lindner (4), Blake Pistulka (6). M-CD Douglas. WP-Douglas. LP-Stevenson. 2B: W-Cole Sawyer; M-Matt Campion.
Willmar001 440 0-9 15 3
Mudcats003 020 0-5 5 2
Albany001 411 0-7 9 3
Mudcats100 120 0-4 6 3
M-Riley Roth, Conner Messman (5). LP-Roth. 2B: M-Leo Zerr, Matt Campion 2.
Marshall VFW Blue
Albany000 000 0-0 3 0
Marshall Blue000 001 0-1 4 0
MB-Connor Winkelman. WP-Winkelman. 2B: A-Taylor Fourre.
Metro Fargo200 010 0-3 6 4
Marshall Blue040 440 X-12 14 0
MB-Nate Hoeft. WP-Hoeft. 2B: MB-Noah Winkelman 2, Brad Bahlmann, Dylan Criquet-Danielson. 3B: N. Winkelman, Criquet-Danielson.
Marshall Blue000 500 0-5 10 3
Waconia500 010 X-6 6 0
MB-Criquet-Danielson. W-Roch Whittacker, Ryan Schuman (4). WP-Schuman. LP-Criquet-Danielson. 2B: N. Winkelman, Bahlmann.