Two big blasts down Mudcats

The Marshall Mudcats were eliminated from the Zone 15 legion baseball playoffs Thursday night, dropping a 10-inning thriller against Litchfield 11-9.

Noah Winkelman led the Mudcats in the loss, going 3-for-6 with two doubles, two RBI and two runs scored. Dylan Criquet-Danielson added three RBI on a 2-for-5 night, including a two-run single in the eighth inning.

Derek Rasmussen was tabbed with the loss in relief duty. In his one inning of work, he gave up two runs on three hits, with one walk and one strikeout.

The loss ended the Mudcats’ 2014 season.

By Stephen Wiblemo

Hutchinson Leader

LITCHFIELD-The rematch between the Marshall Mudcats and Hutchinson Post 96 in the second round of the Zone 15 legion baseball playoffs Thursday in Litchfield was a well played game for the defense and pitchers of both teams.

In the end, though, the difference was a pair of two-run long-balls off the bats of Hutch sluggers Fernando Villegas and Jake Wendland to help Post 96 beat Marshall 5-1.

Marshall was able to clip Hutch 5-4 in the regular season, so the Mudcats went with the same starting pitcher, Nate Hoeft, in the playoffs.

Hoeft went all nine innings for the Mudcats, and Marshall’s bats were only outhit 10-9 by Hutchinson, but the two big blasts were too much to overcome.

“That was the difference in the game,” Marshall manager Mitch Maxwell said. “We talked afterwards how Nate did a great job of changing speeds on the hitters. Even the two pitches they hit out. One was an off speed pitch at the shins, and the other was low and below the knees. They just hit the ball. It was two swings, otherwise it was a 1-1 game.”

The first home run came right away in the first inning as Villegas put Hutch up 2-0 and knocked Marshall back with a two-out rip.

Hoeft beared down and put up three scoreless innings after that, working out of jams in the second and third caused by errors.

In the top of the third the Mudcats also scored their only run as Hoeft singled and was driven in by an RBI single from Conner Winkelman. That was all the scoring Marshall could do, though, as it stranded seven on base, including a bases loaded situation in the eighth.

“We’ve hit the ball well the last couple of games and I thought we did that again today,” Maxwell said. “We left an opportunity with bases loaded and two outs, but we competed.”

Hutch got its second big hit in the fifth inning when Wendland drove the ball out to give his team a 4-1 cushion. Hutch added a final run in the seventh, but it wasn’t needed.

Marshall was sent to the loser’s bracket with the loss and had to play another game Thursday evening to stay alive and come back Friday.

Editor’s Note: The Mudcats played in a 7:30 p.m. consolation bracket game and information was not received prior to press time.

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HITTING: Litchfield (Jakob Schultz 2-for-5, double, three RBI, two runs; Cody Klabunde 2-for-6, double, RBI, run; Eduardo Estrada 3-for-6, HR, triple, three RBI, three runs; Carson Deal 1-for-4; Austin Larson 1-for-6, RBI; Cody Beavers 3-for-6, run; Dylan Kotzer 1-for-4, two runs; Kal Volinkaty 1-for-5, two RBI, run); Marshall (Nate Hoeft 1-for-5; Connor Winkelman 2-for-6, double, RBI, two runs; Derek Rasmussen 1-for-4, two runs; Noah Winkelman 3-for-6, two doubles, two RBI, two runs; Dylan Criquet-Danielson 2-for-5, three RBI, run; Mason Campion 1-for-4, RBI; Brad Bahlmann 1-for-5, RBI, run; Walker Werpy 2-for-4, RBI).

PITCHING (IP-H-R-ER-BB-SO): Litchfield (Cody Beavers 10-12-9-4-4-6); Marshall (Adam Kovash 4-8-7-6-2-2; Dylan Criquet-Danielson 5-6-2-2-2-2; Derek Rasmussen 1-3-2-2-1-1).