Baseball: Hanson’s walk-off homer completes comeback for Warriors
Brainerd hosts Sauk Rapids Monday, May 15
BRAINERD — It turned into a memorable day for the Brainerd Warriors Monday, May 15, at Adamson Field.
After trailing 9-1, the Warriors scored 11 straight runs, which culminated in Isaac Hanson’s walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to give Brainerd a 12-9 Central Lakes Conference win over the Sauk Rapids Storm.
Hanson was in a two-strike count before blasting the next pitch over the left-field fence to give the Warriors a come-from-behind win.
“I was just sitting fastball and reacting to the curve,” Hanson said. “It was a mistake pitch down and in and I capitalized on it and got a good barrel to hit it out of the park. It was definitely a no-doubter and gone off the bat. When I was watching the ball, I made sure it went out first and then gave the coach at first a high-five and the guys were waiting for me at home plate and it was pretty fun.”
The seventh inning started with a walk by Mitch Brau. Cayden Brown reached on a bunt to put runners on first and second with no outs. After back-to-back strikeouts, it was Hanson’s turn as the last hope to end the game before extra innings.
“I’m just proud of Isaac’s overall approach,” Warriors head coach Trent Grams said. “You could tell that he was just starting to miss it just a little bit with each at bat. That one was a no-doubter and it was a bomb.”
Keaton Lingenfelter earned his first varsity win for the Warriors. He pitched five innings of relief for Eli Hoelz, who only lasted two innings as the starter.
“We threw more strikes in the later innings and got ahead of more hitters,” Grams said. “Lingenfelter had a huge outing and the bats started to come along. We started to get traffic on the bases and make things happen. We were definitely the aggressor in the end.”
Lingenfelter gave up a two-run home run to Sauk Rapids’ Jeff Solorz in the top of the fourth to make it 9-1 Storm.
“We just told the kids to stick with it and that this is a long game,” Grams said. “We wanted to play until the last out and that’s something that these guys are really starting to believe in. I was more impressed with Keaton after he gave up the homer. He was just lights out after that and was attacking the strike zone with good tempo. It was good to see him get a win.”
Lingenfelter said he tried to forget about the home run he gave up as soon as it happened.
“It’s just one pitch,” he said. “You just have to go to the next one and keep going. I knew we could win and come back the entire time. I just wanted to attack with my first pitch and it felt good to increase the tempo and keep my pitches down.”
The Warriors made it 9-2 on a Brown sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth and in the fifth, Lingenfelter threw the Warriors’ first shutout inning since the first inning.
Brainerd then put six runs in the bottom of the fifth to cut the Sauk Rapids lead to 9-8.
The rally started when Hanson reached second base on a dropped fly ball by the Sauk Rapids left fielder.
“You always have to have that belief that you can come back and win,” Hanson said. “It’s never over until that last out. You have to have good at-bats and put pressure on the other team, get on base and good things will happen.”
Jon Benson doubled Hanson home to make it 9-3. With two outs, the Warriors strung together five straight batters reaching base. Hoelz hit an RBI single, followed by Brau who ripped an RBI single and reached third base on a throwing error.
Brown walked to put runners on the corners when Eli Owen dumped a single into center field to score Brau.
Lingenfelter, who was the ninth to bat in the fifth, split the left-center field gap with a double to complete the six-run inning.
“It was all momentum,” Lingenfelter said. “We were just super happy and having fun. We were not really thinking anymore.”
Grams added: “No one wanted to make the last out. We got to two outs in that inning and no one wanted to make the third out and you could tell. It was just a lot of heart, a lot of fight and a lot of energy in those kids to just keep going. I’m proud of that inning because that put Sauk Rapids on their heels.”
A two-out rally in the sixth inning tied the game for the Warriors. Benson got his second hit with a single. His courtesy runner, Henry Hopkins, scored on a double by Wyatt Gabrielson which made it 9-9.
“That was a huge at-bat by Wyatt and he’s been doing that all year for us,” Grams said. “He’s just a senior leader and in order to respond in the way he did. We are super proud of that effort.”
Sauk Rapids touched Hoelz for five runs in the second inning, which was aided by four walks. Lingenfelter then walked two in the third inning to help the Storm score two more runs and make it 7-0.
The two teams meet again Tuesday, May 16, in Sauk Rapids.
“We want to score early and put a crooked number right away and see if there is any carry-over from today into tomorrow,” Grams said.
Sauk Rapids 9 10 3
Brainerd 12 12 1
WP: Keaton Lingenfelter. LP: Andrew Bemboom. 2B: Brd-Jon Benson, Wyatt Gabrielson, Keaton Lingenfelter; SR-Keegan Patterson, Ben Rothstein, Logan Bauer. HR: Brd-Isaac Hanson; SR-Jeff Solorz.
Warriors 12, Sauk Rapids 9
Key: Isaac Hanson hits a walk-off three-run home run as the Warriors complete a 9-1 comeback against Sauk Rapids.
Conference: Brd 6-5, SR 2-6.
Overall: Brd 6-8, SR 2-7.
Next: Brainerd at Sauk Rapids 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 16.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.