Brainerd Legion opened its season with two one-run victories over Duluth Denfeld 4-3 and 13-12 Saturday, June 12, at Mills Field.
In the bottom of the eighth inning of Game Two, Brainerd’s Mason Argir hit a walk-off single that scored Carter Springer for Brainerd to win 13-12 in extra innings.
Brainerd used six different pitchers in Game Two with Will Carlson picking up the win. Carlson pitched a scoreless top of the eighth inning and allowed no hits.
In Game One, Brainerd cruised to a 4-0 lead after it plated two runs in the third. Jake Miller led off the inning with an inside-the-park solo home run and Cayden Kleffman tallied one of his six hits in the two games for an RBI that scored Jack Schafer.
Brainerd took the 4-0 lead into the seventh inning. Brainerd pitcher Isaac Hanson recorded the first two outs before Duluth Denfeld put together a rally.
A single, an error and a walk loaded the bases with two outs before Denfeld’s cleanup hitter Dane Dzuck ripped a three-run double to cut Brainerd’s lead to 4-3.
Hanson walked the next batter to put the winning run on, but struck out Logan Nylund to preserve the win for Brainerd.
“I think the guys did great,” Brainerd Legion head coach Dave Peterson said. “We didn’t really know who we had or what we had for pitchers, but I think the pitchers did a great job in the first and fought through in the second game.”
Adam Jensen started Game One for Brainerd and pitched three scoreless innings to get the win. He struck out four and allowed two hits. Hanson pitched four innings and struck out six.
Springer tallied two RBIs in Game One and they came on his two-run single in the second. Carlson walked and Kleffman doubled in front of Springer who drove them in to put Brainerd on the board.
In Game Two, Denfeld scored one in the top of first and Brainerd responded by plating seven runs in the bottom of the first.
Brainerd sent 12 to the plate and racked up five hits in the first inning off Denfeld’s Game Two starter Brjen Jones.
Hanson started the first-inning rally with a one-out double. With two outs, Jonathon Benson ripped a single that plated Hanson. After back-to-back walks, Kleffman ripped an RBI single to make it 2-0. Alex Helmin then ripped a two-run double followed by Riley DeRosier reaching on a dropped third strike that scored another.
Argir walked and loaded the bases for Hanson, who tallied his second first-inning hit, which was a two-run single, that capped off the seven-run inning for Brainerd.
Brainerd added one more in the second inning on another Kleffman RBI single to make it 8-1, before Denfeld scored seven runs in the top of the third to tie it.
Denfeld’s big third inning was aided by five walks as it only tallied two hits in the seven-run inning. The first three Denfeld hitters in the third all walked before Carter Kilroy knocked one in with a single.
A passed ball scored another run before another walk loaded the bases again for Denfeld. Jones helped himself out with a bases loaded walk to bring in a run. Sam Winesett ripped an RBI double and scored the seventh run of the third inning on a wild pitch for Denfeld to tie the game 8-8.
Brainerd responded to Denfeld’s big inning and tallied a run in the bottom of the third. Argir blasted a one-out triple and scored on a Hanson sacrifice fly, which was Hanson’s third RBI of Game Two.
Denfeld took the lead briefly after two runs in the top of the fifth, but Brainerd got both runs back in the bottom of the fifth when Kleffman tallied his third RBI single of Game Two.
Brainerd added some insurance in the bottom of the sixth when Argir singled and scored on a passed ball to make it 12-10 headed into the seventh.
Denfeld tied it with two runs in the top of the seventh off Argir who was now pitching for Brainerd. A Kilroy single scored Gavin Bulthuis for Denfeld to put the game into extra innings.
Brainerd Legion travels to Fergus Falls for a doubleheader Wednesday, June 16, for its next games.
“We are going to push the pitching,” Peterson said. “We are going to form some kind of groove with the pitchers and see what we got because we are going to need eight to nine pitchers.”
Duluth Denfeld 3 6 2
Brainerd 4 7 3
WP: Adam Jensen. LP: CJ Christensen. 2B: Brd-Cayden Kleffman, DD-Gavin Bulthuis (2), Dane Dzuck. HR: Brd-Jake Miller.
Duluth Denfeld 12 10 2
Brainerd 13 16 2
WP: Will Carlson. LP: Gavin Bulthuis. 2B: Brd-Isaac Hanson, Alex Helmin, Jack Schafer DD-Sam Winesett. 3B: Brd-Mason Argir. Overall: Brd 2-0. Next: Brainerd at Fergus Falls (2) 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 16.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.