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Locked in, one through nine

Marshall has 9 batters record hits in tournament-opening wins

Photo by Jake McNeill: Marshall's Chase Alcorn runs from second to third base during a Junior Legion tournament game against Alexandria Red at American Legion Field in Marshall on Friday morning. Marshall defeated Alexandria 7-2.

MARSHALL — The Marshall Black Junior Legion team started out the first day of its home tournament with a bang on Friday. Marshall started its tournament run with a 7-2 win over Alexandria Red in the morning before running away with a 12-1 win in five innings against Hutchinson Black to end the first day of play undefeated.

Game 1

Marshall 7, Alex Red 2

Lockdown pitching and timely hitting allowed Marshall Black to open its home Junior Legion tournament on a high note against Alexandria Red. The Tigers strung together multiple runs in three consecutive innings to pull away for a 7-2 win to advance in the winner’s bracket.

Marshall scored the go-ahead runs while trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the third. A Carson Koopitski walk and a Chase Alcorn double put two runners in scoring position and Levi Maeyaert was hit by a pitch to load them up with one out.

JR Vierstraete came into Friday’s game hot after driving in five runs in a win over Windom on Thursday and kept the trend going with a sacrifice fly to score Kopitski for the tying run. From there, Alcorn scored on a passed ball to give Black a 2-1 lead.

Alexandria Red struck first in the top of the third inning when Seth Schmidt singled then stole second and third. He was held up at third on Brody Brandt’s ground ball single to short but when Jackson Waltzing tipped a pitch to send it slowly rolling just barely onto the grass toward the mound, a throw from the catcher soared over the Marshall first baseman’s outstretched arm and into the outfield to allow the go-ahead run.

A hit batter loaded the bases with no outs for Alexandria when Gavin Dusek stepped up to the plate. The Red first baseman crushed a ball deep toward the left-field fence but Shep Jensen leaped up into the ivy and made the grab against the wall to get an out. Brandt tried to tag up on the play but was ruled to have left early, resulting in the rare 7-6 double play. Logan Phillipe then struck out the next batter to limit the damage to one run in the inning.

“I thought it was gone. I just jumped back in and disappeared in the ivy for a little bit,” Jensen said.

Marshall head coach Chace Pollock added that he also thought that the ball was a grand slam when it first came off the bat and credited Jensen for making “a heck of a play” to start the double play.

Logan Phillippe pitched the first six innings for Marshall Black, holding Alexandria Red to two unearned runs on three hits and a pair of walks. He also struck out eight batters on the day, including each of the last two he faced.

“You look at the three hits he gave up and none of them were really hit hard,” Pollock said of Phillippe’s outing. “One was off the end of the bat, one was that infield single they had, and then one was the big boy hit that ball to center field. I mean, it’s good pitching and pitching and defense win games.”

Marshall continued to string together hits in the fourth inning. Leyton Wherry drew a leadoff walk before a strikeout and a line out put two down. After Wherry advanced to third on a passed ball, Kopitski singled to center to drive him in and Alcorn followed up with a ground ball single. An Alexandria throwing error allowed Kopitski to score on the play and Alcorn to advance to third and Eli Weedman capped off the three-run inning with an RBI single to center to give Marshall a 5-1 lead.

Alcorn led the Marshall offense with two hits, including a double, and two runs. Wherry also had a double and a walk to tie Alcorn with a team-high three total bases in the game while Kopitski added a single a walk and two RBIs.

Weedman closed out the victory with an inning of relief pitching in the top of the seventh, allowing one hit while retiring each of the other three batters he faced.

Alexandria got back a run in the top of the fifth on a Marshall but it was one step forward, two steps back for Red. In the bottom of the frame, Jensen drew a leadoff walk and scored on an outfield hit from Wherry, who showed off the speed to turn the hit into a double. From there, Phillippe laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Wherry to third and Kopitski grounded out to second to score him, extending Marshall’s lead to five runs.

Waltzing tossed the first four innings for Alexandria, getting tagged for three earned runs and two unearned on six hits and a pair of walks. In relief, Schmidt allowed two earned runs on a hit and a walk over 1 1/3 frames while Owen Bruder struck out two of the three batters he faced to get out of the sixth inning, walking the other.

With the win, Marshall will now play the winner of Lakeville South and Hutchinson Black today at 6 p.m. With Phillippe nearly going the distance in the first game, Marshall will have plenty of arms at its disposal going forward in the tournament.

“We need to save pitching because the longer you go in this thing, you’re going to need all of them,” Pollock said. “And Weedy [Weedman] came in and did a nice job of throwing strikes and we’re ready to go for the next one now.”

Game 2

Marshall 12, Hutchinson Black 1 (5)

It didn’t take long for Marshall to set the tone of its second tournament game on Friday against Hutchinson Black. Marshall plated seven runs in the first inning and rode that early lead to an 12-1 victory to remain undefeated in the tournament.

“We were locked in the whole game and that was fun to see,” Marshall head coach Chace Pollock said. “We hit the balls, hit hard balls all over the field, so it was a good day to be at the ballpark.”

Chase Alcorn drew a leadoff walk before Hutchinson retired each of the next two batters. Yet, Marshall persisted with back-to-back walks to J.R. Vierstraete and Shep Jensen. With the bases loaded, Leyton Wherry reached on an error to drive in two runs. After Jensen scored on an error from the Hutchinson pitcher, Tyson Louwagie and Logan Phillippe hit consecutive RBI singles to extend Marshall’s lead to five runs.

Carson Kopitski was hit by a pitch to once again put two runners on and, in his second at-bat of the inning, Alcorn lined a two-run double to center field to make the score 7-0.

“We played well enough defensively and hit enough that we’re going to be in every game, and that showed again today,” Marshall head coach Chace Pollock said. “We kind of blew it open early from that first inning, scored seven runs that inning, and never looked back.”

Alcorn struck out each of the three batters he faced in the top of the first inning. With the game well in hand, Marshall opted to save his arm and brought Louwagie in as a relief pitcher. He allowed just one run over four innings on the hill, striking out three batters without a walk while allowing six hits. Louwagie said after the game that he felt like he had great command of his fastball and was consistently pounding the strike zone.

Marshall and Hutchinson each plated a run in the bottom of the third and the top of the fourth to keep the Tigers’ lead at seven runs. In the bottom of the fourth, however, Vierstraete was hit by a pitch, Jensen walked and Wherry laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the two runners into scoring position. Louwagie dropped a liner into right field to push two runs across the plate and, after Phillippe was hit by pitch, Kopitski singled to make the score 11-1, putting the run rule into play for the fifth inning.

Phillippe scored on a wild pitch to make the score 12-1 heading into the top of the fifth, leaving Marshall three outs away from securing the win. Hutchinson got a leadoff single to start the inning but Louwagie came up with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to put the game to bed.

Up next

Marshall will take on Watertown today at 9 a.m. at Legion Field. They will play either Madelia or a rematch against Moorhead in their second game, with the winners playing at 3:30 p.m. and the losers at 1:30 p.m.

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