PREP BASEBALL: Marshall slips past Luverne 4-1 in Big South Conference Championship
MARSHALL – After getting a first-hand look at what Luverne is capable of in Thursday’s 9-4 loss, the Marshall baseball team knew it would take clutch hitting, error-free fielding and a dynamic performance on the mound to come out on top when the two teams met again in the Big South Conference Championship.
Checking off all three boxes in Monday’s rematch, the Tigers handed the Cardinals their second loss of the season and left Legion Field as Conference champions with a 4-1 victory.
Marshall coach Chace Pollock was thrilled to see the team rebound with opportunistic at-bats this time around and lauded Isaac Schmitt for a dominant performance on the hill.
“That’s a really good Luverne team and we knew we had to play well to come out with a win and we did,” said Pollock. “I thought Isaac threw a heck of a game on the mound for us and gave us a chance. We finally came through in the clutch towards the end of the game there. We had runners in scoring position early and couldn’t cash it in and finally there later on we did.”
Marshall’s Schmitt provided an early glimpse of what was to come upon taking the mound in the top of the first by delivering his first of six scoreless innings while recording two of his nine total strikeouts to send the team back to the dugout.
Throughout the game, Schmitt was focused on throwing strikes and letting the defense do its job.
“Judging by the other night they hit the ball pretty well so (the focus was to) give them the opportunity to put the ball in play, throw strikes and let my defense play,” said Schmitt.
Luverne’s starter Ben Serie was equal to the task in pitching a scoreless first inning, and like Schmitt, provided two more shutout frames before the offenses of both ballclubs broke through in the fourth.
The Cardinals would strike first in their turn at the plate, but the Tigers were quick to respond in the bottom half of the inning beginning with Nick Macchio reaching first with a leadoff single. Next up for the Tigers was Kaleb Welvaert, who delivered his first of two extra-base hits in the contest to score Macchio and knot the game up at one apiece.
Later on in the inning with two outs, Matt Hmielewski came through with a clutch single to score Macchio and give Marshall a 2-1 lead. The hit also marked the end of Serie’s outing as the Cardinals elected to make their first of four pitching changes in the contest.
Pollock was proud of the way the team battled in their at-bats to force the Cardinals to go deep into their bullpen.
“Luverne’s got very good pitching and we grinded some at-bats out and saw more pitches and then got to the bullpen late and that was the difference,” said Pollock.
The Tigers added their final two runs of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning as Welvaert leadoff with a double and was waved home on a base hit by Andrew Mulso in his lone plate appearance. After a Jordan Mernaugh pop flyout, Hmielewski drove in Mulso with a double to score the team’s fourth and final run of the game.
Next up for Marshall is their regular season finale against Windom today at 5 p.m. After the finale, Pollock is looking forward to getting in some practices before the start of the post-season.
“Well we finally get to practice,” said Pollock. “We haven’t had a practice in a long time so this will be an opportunity for us to get back at it.”
Marshall 4, Luverne 1
Luverne 000 100 0 — 1 2 2
Marshall 000 202 x — 4 8 0
HITTING: Marshall (Macchio 1-3; Welvaert 2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI; Mulso 1-1, RBI; Greve 1-3; Hmielewski 2-3 2B, 2 RBI; Schmitt 1-3).
PITCHING (IP-R-ER-H-BB-SO): Marshall (Schmitt 7-1-1-2-4-9).