‘It’s like a snowball effect’

Tigers get bats rolling in 13-3 win over Hibbing

Photo by Jake McNeill: Marshall left fielder Coby Brownlee hits a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against Hibbing at the Milroy Irish Yard on Saturday. The Tigers defeated the Bluejackets 13-3 in five innings to improve to 4-0 on the season.

MILROY — After winning each of its past two games by a final score of 1-0, the Marshall baseball team got its bats going against Hibbing at the Milroy Irish Yard on Saturday. The Tigers scored seven fourth-inning runs to pull away from their up-north opponent and held on for a 13-3 win in five innings.

The win keeps Marshall perfect on the season with four wins in their first four games.

Marshall took command of the game with a third-inning rally. A Coby Brownlee walk and a Josh Kraft single put runners on second and third with no outs. Braxton Koster broke the game open with a two-run double into left field, giving the Tigers a 3-0 lead, and a Liam Kruse double with one out scored Koster to make it 4-0.

Brownlee got the Tigers on the board early in the bottom of the first. Coming up to bat with one out, Brownlee drilled a ball deep into right-center field. He turned on the jets, rounded second and beat the throw for a triple. From there, he capitalized on a wild pitch to spring home for the go-ahead run.

Brownlee was one of three Tigers with two hits on the day, along with Kruse and Koster. Brownlee and Koster were each also hit by a pitch and walked to reach base four times in four plate appearances.

“Our bats haven’t been great all season but I think we really focused in on practicing this week,” Brownlee said. “We just really took advantage of the time we had and really got dialed in for hitting today.”

Kraft took to the hill for Marshall on the day, pitching four innings to pick up his second win of the season. He held the Bluejackets to two earned runs — and one unearned — on four hits and six walks. Kraft also struck out five batters.

Just when it seemed like the Tigers were pulling away, Hibbing got right back into the game. Luke Nelson and Ryder Petrie each drew a walk with a Kody Birmes single in between. WIth the bases loaded and no outs, Nelson scored on a passed ball and Kadin Augustin singled to right field to score another run, cutting the deficit in half.

In the next at-bat, Gavin Lamphere hit a grounder to second but an error allowed him to reach base safely and drive in another run, making the score 4-3.

From there, Kraft and the Tigers locked in defensively. Kraft struck out two of the next three batters he faced to put two away. A single in between the strikeouts loaded the bases but Kraft induced a pop out to end the inning with the TIgers’ lead still intact.

Marshall struggled with its fielding at points during the day. While they were knocked for just one error on the scoreboard, they had several other miscues and miscommunications that allowed Hibbing to put runners on base.

“[This year] is the first time these guys have really played together and we’re just learning every game and trying to get better,” Pollock said. “If it happens over and over, then we’ve got issues but hopefully we’ll take care of a lot of those things and get better.”

While the Bluejackets made it a game in the top of the fourth, they didn’t keep it a game for long. Talan Plante singled to start the inning and back-to-back hit batters loaded up the bases with no outs. From there, the Tigers capitalized big time. Kraft drew a walk to push in the first run and, after a Hibbing pitching change, Braxton Koster singled to drive in another to make the score 6-3.

“I think after the first time through the lineup, it felt different,” Pollock said. “We had better takes on close pitches and then we were able to get the barrel on some ones that were hittable. Just good adjustments by us from where we were at earlier to where we’re at now. It’s big gains.”

The Tigers still weren’t done offensively. After an infield fly put one away, Liam Kruse doubled in another three runs and Ashton Blomberg hit a line-drive single to left field to drive in another. After a ground out put two away, Carter Prins scored on a balk to make the score 11-3 at the end of two.

“I think it’s like a snowball effect,” Brownlee said. “Once one guy hits, I think our whole team kind of rallies behind them. I think we really play well together so I think as long our team’s got our backs, we’re going to be good.”

Blomberg relieved Kraft to start the fifth. He allowed a single on his second pitch but retired each of the next three batters he faced to give Marshall the opportunity to end the game in the bottom of the frame.

With victory in reach, the Tigers didn’t slow down. A Brownlee single, a Kraft walk and Koster getting hit by a pitch loaded up the bases when JR Vierstraete stepped up to the plate. He hit a sacrifice fly to score Brownlee and, in the next at-bat, Andrew Cowden singled to end the game via mercy rule, 13-3.

The Tigers will look to continue their winning ways on Tuesday when they go on the road to take on New Ulm at 5:30 p.m. After dropping each of their first two games, the Eagles have won three in a row to head into Tuesday’s matchup at 3-2.


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