BASEBALL Warriors win battle of small ball
With temperatures tumbling into the 30s and the wind howling around 30 mph, it was not a pleasant day to swing a bat or throw a baseball Thursday.
As a result, the Sartell Sabres and Brainerd Warriors engaged in a little small ball. The Warriors emerged with a 5-4 win at Adamson Field in the Central Lakes Conference opener for both teams.
The teams combined for just eight hits, threw six wild pitches and committed four errors.
“It was cold,” Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. “It wasn’t a good day for hitting for anybody, there wasn’t much for hits. It was a day you try not to walk anybody, and the team that walks the fewest guys is probably going to win, and that’s the way it turned out.
“It’s a game we’re just glad to get through.”
Brainerd won it in the bottom of the sixth. Jack Hegarty led off with a walk, advanced two bases on wild pitches and scored on Blaine Bubalo’s infield hit.
The Warriors scored three runs thanks to Blake Thiesse’s bat work. His two-run single preceded Patrick Skogen’s RBI single in the second that gave Brainerd a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth, Brainerd went up 4-2 with some fundamentally sound baseball. Kevin Peterson walked, took two bases on Bubalo’s groundout and scored on Thiesse’s perfectly placed suicide squeeze bunt.
“Scearcy just gave me the sign, and I just tried my best to make contact, and get it down,” Thiesse said.
“Blake is one of these kids who we’ve got a lot of confidence in to make a play like that,” Scearcy said. “Kevin almost broke too early from third, but he had done a great job of running to get to third on the ground ball, so it turned out OK for us.”
Thiesse also contributed a nice running catch in left that ended the Sartell second.
“The wind was blowing so it was kind of hard to judge the ball,” he said.
Scearcy called Thiesse just a “steady” player.
“He knows how to play baseball,” Scearcy said, “and that kind of shows up. He’s not going to do dumb things. If you need him to put down a bunt, or maybe move a runner along, he’s going to do it.
“And, so far, I like him in the No. 9 spot. I think he’s going to keep getting better.”
The Sabres tied the game 4-4 in the sixth. Brandon Waldvogel ripped an RBI double and wild pitches scored the tying run.
Sartell scored an unearned run in the second on a throwing error and scored again in the fourth on two wild pitches.
Bubalo started and pitched three innings with a strikeout and three walks. He allowed one hit, two runs, one earned.
Hegarty relieved in the fourth. He struck out four, walked two and allowed two hits and two earned runs.
“We didn’t really know how many innings we would get out of Blaine,” Scearcy said. “It was a matter of throwing strikes out there. Actually, we thought we might go to Mitch Bzdok in the middle, but that was going to be a tough defensive move for us because Riley Kline, who normally would have started out playing third base, has a bad arm, and can’t play until next week probably.
“When we got into the fourth with Blaine I thought we needed to go to Jack right now, and try to win the game. Jack struggled, he wasn’t warmed up, but once he got going he was fine.”
Sartell 001 102 0 — 4 3 2
Brainerd 030 101 x — 5 5 2
Sartell: John Schumer, Michael Cheney (6) and Alex Omann.
Brainerd: Blaine Bubalo, Jack Hegarty (4) and Bruce London.
W: Hegarty (1-0). L: Cheney.
2B: Brandon Waldvogel (S)
SB: Patrick Skogen (B), Bubalo.
S: Alex Omann (S), Blake Thiesse (B)
RBIs: Waldvogel, Skogen, Bubalo, Thiesse 3
DP: Brd 2
LOB: Brd 3, S 2
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.