AMATEUR BASEBALL: Battling it out
A’s rally twice, force extra-inning thriller against Willmar
MARSHALL – After struggling to find offense in their home opener on Sunday, the Marshall A’s amateur baseball team found it back in an extremely timely fashion against the Willmar Rails on Wednesday. Facing not one, but two 2-run deficits, the A’s battled back each time and would force the game into extra innings. Willmar led 7-6 in the bottom of the 12th at press time.
Trailing by a pair of runs going into its final at-bat, Marshall knew it needed to put together a string of solid plate appearances in order to keep things going. King Blanchette was hit by a pitch to lead things off before Rusty Swanson and Zach Olsen drew back-to-back walks to load the bases with no outs. Matt Hmielewski then drew a walk of his own to cut the deficit to one at 4-3, but the Rails answered with two quick outs.
With Keaton Maertens at the plate and the tying run just 90 feet away, the A’s were able to tie things up at 4-4 thanks to a wild pitch on an 0-2 count. Willmar would get a quick out shortly after that to force the game into extras. After a scoreless 10th, the Rails would score two runs in the top half of the 11th to take a 6-4 lead. The A’s put together another bases-loaded rally attempt in the bottom half of the frame and Ryan Schwagel came up with the clutch hit that scored two runs and tied things at 6-6.
The back-and-forth battle was evident right from the start. After a scoreless first, the Rails got things started in the next frame by capitalizing on a Marshall error, but the A’s had a quick response in their ensuing at-bat. Logan Tomasek would draw a two-out walk before back-to-back hits from Nick Macchio and Jordan Mernaugh helped push Marshall back in front at 2-1.
On the defensive side of the ball, A’s starter Logan Terfehr made sure to keep the Willmar hitters at bay. Terfehr struck out five batters over his first three innings, including ending the first and third frames with consecutive strikeouts.
The Rails continued to battle, though, and recorded a pair of one-out singles in the top half of the fifth before a walk loaded the bases. Willmar would get another walk to bring in a run, but the reliever Tomasek then came onto the mound and got two quick outs to escape the jam and keep things deadlocked at 2-2.
Neither side could find scoring until the seventh, when Willmar used a single and a pair of Marshall errors to plate a run and take a 3-2 lead. The A’s would get a baserunner aboard in the eighth when Justin Greenwood reached on an error, but Marshall couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity before forcing extra innings with the late comeback.
Mernaugh led the way for the A’s offensively, going 1 for 3 with a pair of RBI while Tanner Strommen, Macchio, Blanchette and Peyton Grant all added a base hit.
Terfehr went 4 1/3 innings in the start, allowing two runs on five hits and striking out five.
Marshall will hit the road to face the Milroy Yankees on Friday night at 7:30 p.m.