PREP BASEBALL: Tigers capture wild DH

MARSHALL – The Marshall Tigers emerged from a wild day of baseball with non-conference wins over Lac qui Parle Valley 17-13 and West Fargo, N.D., 4-1 during the Marshall Invitational on Saturday at American Legion Field.

Marshall, which improved to 5-0 overall, is off to its best start in a season since the Tigers won their first six games to begin the 2006 campaign. MHS can tie that mark with a Southwest Conference victory at Worthington on Tuesday.

For Marshall to remain unbeaten, it overcame a 10-0 third-inning deficit against the Eagles (3-3) in Game 1 and received a dominant start from pitcher Adam Kovash, who allowed only one hit to the Packers (3-1) in six innings of Game 2 before Riley Sharbono worked the final frame for a save.

“The kids battled back and, I think, we found out a little bit of what we are made of (Saturday),” Tigers head coach Chase Pollack said. “Connor Winkelman was dialed-in at the plate. He swung the bat well and pitched well for us to win.”

Game 1

Marshall 17, Lac qui Parle Valley 13

Connor Winkelman was everywhere for the Tigers, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, three runs, five RBI, three stolen bases and pitching the final 4? innings for a victory in relief.

“I was seeing fastballs and I was waiting for my pitch to hit,” Winkelman said. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a better game, to be honest.”

Lac qui Parle Valley knocked around Marshall starting pitcher Aaron Polejewski and reliever Conner Mesman during the first three innings as the Eagles scored twice in the second and eight times in the third before Winkelman took the mound to record the final out.

“Right away, I wanted to throw strikes with my fastball because I didn’t have my curveball working too well,” Winkelman said. “I threw my fastball, let them hit it and let our defense get the outs.”

Down 10-0 after 2 frames, the Tigers began their comeback as Winkelman hit an RBI double before stealing third and, after a walk to Bryce Johnson, pulled off a double steal on which he scored to trim the MHS deficit to eight runs.

As Winkelman tossed scoreless innings in the fourth, fifth and seventh, it gave the Marshall offense time to rally.

The Tigers’ four-run fourth was highlighted by Mason Campion’s RBI double, Winkelman’s two-run double and Johnson’s run-scoring single.

Trailing 10-6 in the fifth, MHS scored eight times to take a four-run (14-10) lead. The big blasts for the Tigers came from Winkelman, who hit his second two-run double of the game; Johnson, who followed with a RBI double; Noah Winkelman, who also delivered a two-run double; and Campion, whose two-run single fell in center field.

But the Eagles were not finished.

Dylan Lillejord, Garrett Olson and Cole Bungarden all began the sixth against Connor Winkelman with singles, including the latter hit which scored Lillejord. Lac qui Parle Valley added two more runs on a two-out, infield error to cut the Marshall lead to 14-13.

The Tigers sealed their victory with a three-run, sixth-inning rally against Eagles reliever Chase Mortenson. Drew Hmielewski singled, drove in a run and scored during the frame, while Noah Winkelman had his third RBI of the game on a run-scoring single. Carl Douglas ripped a run-scoring single into the corner in left field, but Sharbono was thrown out at home plate to complete the inning.

Conner Winkelman gave up a two-out single to Lillejord before retiring Olson on a fly ball to left field.

Game 2

Marshall 4, West Fargo 1

The only hit Kovash allowed was a two-out, first-inning double to Devin Wagenman. After a walk to Ben Strahm, Kovash escaped from early trouble by getting Chase Gooding on a fly ball to center field.

The Marshall right-hander, who worked 1-2-3 innings in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth, gave up an unearned run and a walk with three strikeouts.

“Everything was working for us. Jack (Bock) called the pitches and I threw whatever he called,” Kovash said of communicating the MHS catcher. “I throw a fastball, a curveball and a changeup. All of my pitches were working (Saturday).”

Kovash said it was great to rebound with a strong outing after making a short start April 12 against Waseca. In that appearance, he gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits with two walks and two strikeouts in 1? innings

“It was great to get the win because West Fargo is a very good team,” Kovash said.

Pollack was happy with the way Kovash performed.

“He had everything working, he was able to challenge (the West Fargo) hitters and he let us defense work behind him,” Pollack said. “We knew, last weekend, that wasn’t Adam’s best outing and we wanted to see him pitch again.”

The Packers (3-1) were the runners-up of the NDHSAA Class A Baseball State Tournament in 2013 with a 21-4 record.

West Fargo, which employed six different pitchers, had all of its hurlers work just one inning.

“As a hitter, it’s tough to face six different arms, especially when all six of them were good,” Pollack said of the Packers’ pitching staff. “You have to get your timing straightened out in every at-bat and be ready to go up there.”

Single tallies in the first and second innings allowed the Tigers to grab a 2-0 lead.

Hmielewski, who went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs, reached in the first on an infield single. He went to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on an infield groundout and scored when Strahm, the West Fargo catcher, allowed a passed ball.

In the second, Derek Rasmussen’s lead-off double turned into a run. Infield groundouts from Brent Andries and Nate Hoeft advanced Rasmussen to third and home, respectively.

The Packers trimmed their deficit to 2-1 with a one-out, third-inning rally. Leadoff-hitter Noah Paper went from home to third on an infield error before a groundout off the bat of Anjelo Shepherd produced the run.

Kovash pitched around another third-inning error to retire Strahm on a groundout, which began a string of 10 straight outs for the Tigers hurler.

Marshall went ahead 4-1 in the fifth on Noah Winkelman’s two-run single.

Sharbono, who relieved Kovash in the seventh, extended West Fargo’s frustration be retiring the first two hitters he faced. After Aaron Faase reached on an infield error, Sharbono ended the game by forcing Greg Newenhouse to hit a tap back to the mound.