Brookings Bandits snatch Sunday sweep of Mudcats

MARSHALL – Playing a doubleheader against one of the top Legion baseball teams in South Dakota, the Marshall Mudcats were bit by a pair of big innings Sunday. The Brookings Bandits used a four-run fifth inning to pull away for a 9-4 win in the opener and scored three runs in the fifth inning of the second game to create separation in a 6-1 win.

The Bandits, who won the South Dakota Class A state championship last year and sport multiple players who will continue their careers in college, improve to 23-8 on the season. The loss drops Marshall to 4-12.

Mudcats coach Jeremy Ische said his team’s losses Sunday reflected a similar pattern to many of its earlier defeats.

“We’ve been playing good ballgames for four or five innings at times, but then we’ll have that one inning that blows us up and we can’t recover from that,” Ische said. “We just can’t seem to figure that out, I don’t know what that is or understand it, but we’ll try to keep figuring it out.”

Marshall brought its bats for the first game and outhit Brookings 10-6. The Mudcats led 3-1 after the first two innings before Brookings scored two in the third and two more in the fourth to go ahead. Mudcats starter Carl Douglas was replaced by Jared Holland in the fifth, and accuracy issues from Holland in the inning led to four Bandit runs.

The top of the order gave Marshall plenty of production in the loss. Bryce Johnson and Drew Hmielewski each went 3-for-4. Nolan Schaeffer also had a solid game, going 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.

Mistakes in the field and from the mound resulted in another loss for Marshall in Game 2. Brookings outhit the Mudcats 10-7 in the game, but also got several free passes.

“They took advantage of a lot of freebies,” Ische said. “In Game 2 we had six walks and three errors, so that’s nine free base runners. I think five of those six walks scored, and that’s obviously the difference there. They don’t walk guys and we do and that’s kind of been the story all year.”

Conner Messman got the start for the Mudcats and worked four innings. Adam Kovash came in to throw the fifth, when Brookings struck for three runs, and Hmielewski allowed one run over the final two innings.

Marshall scored its lone run in the third when Walker Werpy, Johnson and Hmielewski all singled before Leo Zerr drove in a run with a sacrifice fly.

The Mudcats are off until Friday when they begin play in the 50-team Gopher Classic in Eden Prairie. They are scheduled to open the three-day tournament against Centennial and Sioux Falls East (S.D.) on Friday, then play Huron (S.D.) and Moline (Ill.) Saturday before wrapping things up with a game against Eden Prairie on Sunday.