How to catch a Bullfrog
MARSHALL – No speech was needed to charge up the bats of the Marshall A’s before for the bottom of the ninth inning on Tuesday. Trailing the Bird Island Bullfrogs 5-4 entering the game’s final frame, A’s manager Sean Culhane said his advice was succinct.
“To be honest, I didn’t say anything to them. At some point you’ve got to just let them do what they do,” Culhane said. “You can try to motivate them, but when it all comes down to it they need to be able to do what they know they need to do. More or less, it wasn’t a motivational thing, it was just, ‘Come on fellas, we’ve been here before. We know we can do this.'”
The A’s proved their manager right as they pounded out four hits in the bottom of the ninth to rally for a 6-5 walkoff win in Corn Belt League action.
Zach Olson started the inning by blasting a triple to right field. Andrew Kinney’s double to the right-center gap on the next pitch tied the game before a hit batter and Tanner Neale single loaded the bases for Mason Schnaible.
Schnaible then poked a single to the outfield grass, bringing home Kinney and the win for the A’s.
Kinney finished the game 2-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs, while each of Olson’s three hits in the contest went for extra bases. Along with his ninth-inning triple, Olson collected doubles in the first and fifth innings. His two-bagger in the fifth plated two runs and got the A’s on the board. It also cut a 4-0 Bullfrog lead in half.
“They’re good hitters, at the end of the day they are just really good hitters,” Culhane said of Olson and Kinney. “Since Jordon (Kontz) has been gone we needed to pick up the slack somewhere and those guys have picked up that slack. Olson’s gone into the three hole and just done superb.”
Bird Island had scored their first four runs off of Marshall starter Dylan Shoemaker, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings.
Just as he did in the first meeting between the two teams, a 5-1 win for the Bullfrogs on June 30 in Bird Island, Ben Korger entered in relief and kept the A’s within range.
Unlike the previous meeting, however, the A’s bats also shook off a sluggish start. Nine of Marshall’s 12 hits came from the fifth inning on as the A’s were able to pick out the hittable pitches from Bullfrog starter Dylan Gass.
“We did struggle, until late. You’ve just got to stick with it,” Culhane said. “You can score at some point, get a couple here or a couple there. I think that tonight we hit it when we needed to. I just wish that we would sometimes start a little quicker. He kept us off balance. He had a good curveball and mixed his pitches.”
The A’s pulled within a run in the bottom of the sixth, as Schnaible’s safety squeeze scored Cody Curry. Kinney then tied the game, doubling in Olson in the seventh.
After throwing five scoreless innings, Korger finally gave one back to Bird Island, as the Bullfrogs manufactured a run in the top of the eighth. But thanks to the ninth inning offense, Korger took a no-decision with four hits, four walks and four strikeouts.
“With Ben, we didn’t know when he was going to pitch (this week),” Culhane said. “We wanted to win and we’ll figure out who we are going to pitch later in the week when we get there. Even at 4-0 you still want to win a ballgame and that’s what we did.”
Marshall is in a stretch of seven games in seven days, but refused to sacrifice a potential win in order to preserve arms.
Curry came on to pitch in the ninth for Marshall and ultimately picked up the win after a scoreless inning.
Gass, who walked four and fanned three, received a no decision for his eight-plus innings of duty. He was relieved by Brad Gass after allowing the leadoff triple to Olson in the ninth. Brad Gass failed to record an out in relief and took the loss.
Korger went 2-for-4 at the plate Tuesday night, as well as swiping the only base for the A’s. Taylor Rignell hit a pair of seeing-eye singles to finish 2-for-4.
Dylan Gass went 3-for-4 to lead the Bullfrogs, while Elliot Serbus was 2-for-3 with two stolen bases.
The A’s (14-5 overall) extended their winning streak to three games with the walkoff and will look to stretch it to four as they close out Corn Belt League play tonight with a home game against the Granite Falls Kilowatts.