Mudcats keep season alive with 2 wins

Twenty-four total runs, two late-inning comebacks and a 2 1/2-hour rain delay all played a part in helping the Marshall Mudcats stave off elimination in the Sub-State 15 Legion baseball tournament in Cold Spring.

The Mudcats dropped to the losers’ bracket after falling 4-3 to Waconia on Wednesday, but bounced back with wins over Litchfield and Willmar on Thursday. Marshall topped Litchfield 12-11 to start the day before beating Willmar 12-9.

Marshall trailed late in both games, but in both contests the Mudcats found the timely hits to keep their summer going.

“It’s exciting to see. I encourage that and I appreciate that,” Mudcats head coach Jeremy Ische said of Marshall’s resolve during Thursday’s games. “We have a lot of seniors, as well as Matt Campion who is a year older, so there is a lot of leadership on this team. They’re a group that likes to hang around together. They weren’t ready for their season to be done and didn’t want to be done.”

Against Litchfield, the Mudcats rallied from deficits of 6-0 (after 1 1/2 innings) and 11-7 (following the top of the eighth). The Mudcats scored five runs over the final two innings, ultimately winning on a walk-off passed ball.

Nolan Schaeffer reached on a walk earlier in the bottom of the ninth and finally scored when a pitch got away from the Litchfield catcher.

The teams endured a 2 1/2-hour rain delay during the game, which started at 11 a.m. but didn’t end until 4 p.m. Ische said that the stoppage had opposite effects on the two teams.

“We played ugly but we were able to fight it off. That rain delay kind of helped rally the guys,” he said. “Litchfield kind of fell apart late.”

Conner Mesman picked up the win on the mound, recording three of his four outs by strikeout after relieving starter Colton Peterson with two outs in the eighth. Peterson gave up all 11 Litchfield runs, but made up for it with a 3-for-5 game at the plate. Drew Hmielewski also chipped in offensively, scoring four runs, swiping two bases and going 2-for-3 with a double.

The Mudcats fell behind early against Willmar as well, trailing 7-2 after five complete. But big hits late allowed Marshall to outscore Willmar 10-2 over the final four innings, including nine runs from the seventh inning on, and secure a 12-9 win.

Schaeffer was again an offensive factor, finishing 3-for-6 with three doubles and two runs. Leo Zerr also scored twice and was 3-for-6 with a double.

Mason Campion and Walker Werpy each contributed doubles during the four-run eighth inning for Marshall, while Werpy scored two runs in the game.

Derek Buysse laced four singles in the game, crossing home twice, and ended up grabbing a four-out save on the mound.

Buysse relieved Jared Holland, who earned the win with 2 2/3 innings of effective relief work. Adam Kovash started and went four innings, receiving no decision, while Messman tossed one inning of relief before giving way to Holland to start the sixth.

In total, the Mudcats belted 16 hits against Willmar, but also had 11 strikeouts at the plate. On the flip side, Marshall pitchers held Willmar to 12 hits and fanned six batters.

Due to inclement weather, Marshall’s opponent for today has yet to be determined. The Mudcats will play the winner between Waconia and St. Joseph at 1 p.m. today in Cold Spring.