LEGION BASEBALL: A strong combination
Mudcats uses late offense and solid pitching to sneak past Harrisburg (S.D.)
MARSHALL – After a challenging couple of games at the Upper Midwest Classic last weekend, the Marshall Legion baseball team returned home only to face another tough test in the form of Harrisburg (S.D.).
With a combination of a complete-game from Isaac Schmitt and a late offensive rally, the Mudcats paired the two forces to the tune of a 3-1 victory Thursday afternoon at Legion Field.
Marshall coach Mitch Maxwell said he was pleased with their overall performance and was proud of how they continued to fight all game.
“First of all, it was a great performance by Isaac; it’s kind of what you come to expect from him. That’s a good team over there in Harrisburg and Isaac did a nice job against them,” Maxwell said. “And credit to our kids to again be patient and stay involved and we never lost sight of what we needed to do and that was to find a way to win a ballgame. Kaleb (Welvaert) and Jordan (Mernaugh) did a nice job there to get runs across in the bottom of the sixth; I thought it was a great team effort, we had some chances and didn’t convert but we came up when we needed to at the end.”
Right from the opening pitch, Schmitt set the tempo on the mound, as he allowed just three hits in the first four innings while collecting six strikeouts.
Harrisburg would put pressure on Schmitt in the top half of the fifth, loading the bases with two outs, but the Mudcats righthander responded with a key strikeout to end the frame and extinguish the scoring threat for Harrisburg.
A few innings later, Schmitt was tested again, as Harrisburg put a couple of baserunners on in the top of the seventh, but he came right back with a quick strikeout to cap off the victory.
Schmitt said his ability to mix his pitches to work his way out of a hitter’s count was a key strength for him throughout the afternoon.
“I was getting ahead with the fastball and then coming back with the off-speed,” he said. “I was pitching backwards sometimes when I had to and everything was pretty much working.”
Schmitt finished his victory by allowing one run on six hits. Of his 120 pitches thrown, 76 were for strikes and he struck out 12 of the 29 batters he faced.
Maxwell said Schmitt was able to catch hitters off-guard with off-speed pitches and stepped up to the challenge when he needed to.
“He threw some off-speed pitches in fastball counts and we caught them on their front foot a little bit and I think that’s what got him out of those jams. And then at the end, he wanted a challenge,” Maxwell said. “We asked him what he wanted to throw on a couple of those pitches at the end and he knew what he wanted and that’s a sign of a senior leader who knows what he’s doing on the hill. He knew what he wanted to do to get a guy out, so you saw a little bit of both.”
After not being able to get on the scoreboard early on, both Harrisburg and Marshall found a way to capitalize at the plate in the third. Harrisburg struck first with a two-out walk and stolen base before an RBI single made it 1-0, but the Mudcats were quick to respond. Riley Alcorn connected on a one-out single and Matt Hmielewski drew a walk before both runners advanced on a wild pitch to get in scoring position. Cody Greve then stepped up and brought in the tying run on an RBI groundout to make it 1-1 after three.
In need of a spark, Marshall got a pair of baserunners aboard in the bottom of the sixth on an infield single from Hmielewski and a walk from Greve. After a fielder’s choice, Nick Macchio was hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners. With two outs, Welvaert was able to work his way into a 2-1 count before smacking a line drive over the third baseman’s head for an RBI single that put his team up for good. Not done there, Mernaugh would extend the Mudcats’ advantage on the ensuing at-bat with an RBI single to center to make it 3-1.
Welvaert, Mernaugh and Greve led the way for Marshall with a hit and an RBI each while Alcorn and Hmielewski added a hit apiece.
Marshall (6-2) will compete in the Princeton tournament next weekend. Maxwell said their biggest takeaway is to focus on what they’ve been working on in practice as well as just taking care of themselves.
“We’re a resilient group; we just need to take care of ourselves and focus on the things that we’ve been working on in practice, especially at the plate,” Maxwell said. “Some of those guys are making some adjustments and you’re seeing those adjustments pay off. Those things are starting to pay off, we just need to take care of ourselves and continue to stay focused.”
Marshall 3, Harrisburg (S.D.) 1
Harrisburg (S.D.) 001 000 0 – 1 6 0
Marshall 001 002 x – 3 5 0
HITTING: Marshall (Hmielewski 1-2; Greve 1-2, RBI; Welvaert 1-2, RBI; Mernaugh 1-2, RBI; Alcorn 1-2).
PITCHING (IP-R-ER-H-BB-SO): Marshall (Schmitt 7-1-1-6-3-12).