HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL: Kline's hit on line gives Brainerd win
Riley Kline hasn’t been fine with his performance at the plate this season.
The senior infielder entered Tuesday’s game at Sauk Rapids hitting .229, but his bat began to come to life as he hit a 2-run homer and finished 2 for 4.
On Thursday, Kline collected two more hits, including the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth, to lift the Brainerd Warriors to a 4-3 win over the Sartell Sabres in the final home game of the regular season at Adamson Field.
“I didn’t really have much to do in the offseason with baseball,” Kline said of his struggles at the plate. “We’ve been working on technique so it’s starting to pick up a little bit.”
With one out and the score tied 3-3 in Brainerd’s half of the ninth, Drew Sannes drew a walk. On a pitch in the dirt, Sannes stole second. Kline then delivered his game-winner inside the left-field line.
“I got behind in the count early so I was just hoping for fastball and he threw it,” Kline said. “When I hit it, I was just hoping it would stay fair.”
Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy thought Sannes’ baserunning was as important as the hit.
“Riley really came through on that one,” Scearcy said, “but the big one was actually Drew going to second. We’ve been working on going to second on balls in the dirt, and Drew did a nice job. If he’s not on second we don’t score on that.”
Reliever Luke Patron also came up big. He replaced reliever Luke Boran with two out and runners at second and third. Patron hit the first batter, loading the bases, before striking out Cody Partch.
“Luke Patron pitched six shutout innings Monday so he was done,” Scearcy said. “If we hadn’t scored, Boran was coming back. I was real happy with our relief pitching. They came in and did a good job.”
Warrior starter Blake Peterson went six innings, with three walks and four strikeouts. He allowed five hits and three runs, all earned, and hit three batters.
In addition to Kline, Mitch McLain and Boran had two hits apiece as Brainerd won its third straight game and avenged a 9-4 loss to Sartell April 26.
Marshal Wirtzfeld delivered an RBI double in the Sartell first and Dylan Hollenkamp drove in the Sabres’ other run in the inning with a groundout.
Brainerd surged ahead 3-2 in the third on Blake Thiesse’s RBI single, Sannes’ run-scoring double that blew past the right fielder and on McLain’s RBI double inside the left-field line.
Alex Wolhart’s run-scoring single in the fourth enabled Sartell to tie it 3-3.
The teams combined to strand 22 baserunners. The Warriors left the bases loaded in the fifth and had the winning run at third in the bottom of the seventh, but failed to punch it in.
“We had so many chances to score, but they did too,” Scearcy said.
Sartell 200 100 000 — 3 8 3
Brainerd 003 000 001 — 4 10 0
2 out in bottom of ninth when winning run scored
Sartell: Blake Guggenberger, Max Kopick (7) and Alex Omann.
Brainerd: Blake Peterson, Luke Boran (7), Luke Patron (7) and Ben Stall.
WP: Patron (3-0). LP: Kopick.
2B: Marshal Wirtzfeld (S), Drew Sannes (B), Mitch McLain (B),
SB: Cody Partch (S), Alex Wolhart (S), Luke Boran (B), Drew Sannes (B)
Sac: Conor Gessell (B), Troy Monson (S)
RBIs: Brd-Blake Thiesse, Sannes, McLain, Riley Kline; S-Wirtzfeld, Dylan Hollenkamp, Wolhart
DP: Brd 1, S 1
LOB: Brd 12, S 12
Mike Bialka, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.