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Baseball: Warriors knocked off St. Cloud in extras

Brainerd hosts St. Cloud April 28

Adam Jensen
Adam Jensen

BRAINERD — When Adam Jensen came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning with one out and the bases loaded in a 3-3 game he said all he wanted to do was not pop up.

“I just wanted to put something in play that’s not in the air,” the Brainerd senior said. “If I hit it to the outfield it’s fine, but three of my at-bats I popped out or flew out, so I just wanted to have a good at-bat and work the count and make the pitcher throw strikes.”

After the St. Cloud pitcher Turman Toenjes spiked his first two pitches, Jensen’s approach changed.

“Obviously, you want to hit a walk-off, but after he spiked those first two I was just giving myself the take sign and made sure I saw one in,” Jensen said. “He wasn’t throwing that hard, so I knew if I gave up a strike I could still work the count and put a good swing on one.”

It worked as Jensen walked on four pitches which scored Isaac Hanson for the winning run and the Warriors beat St. Cloud 4-3 in a Central Lakes Conference game Thursday, April 28, at Adamson Field.

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Hanson led off the eighth with a single which was Brainerd’s first hit since the second inning and first base runner since the fourth.

With Kleffman at bat next, Hanson went to second on a wild pitch. Kleffman hit a sharp ground ball to third which the third baseman could not field. Hanson advanced to third, but Kleffman was thrown out trying to go to second base.

With a runner at third, St. Cloud intentionally walked Jonathon Benson and Adam Lund to load the bases for Jensen who drew the game-winning walk.

“We wanted to make sure he threw a strike,” Warriors head coach Trent Grams said. “Our dugout tonight at the end really fueled and played a big part in our win with their energy. We wanted to make sure he threw a strike and if he does Adam is going to swing, but it had to be perfect.”

Jensen also pitched all eight innings for the Warriors and allowed four hits, three runs — none earned — and walked four.

Jensen worked quickly in the first two innings as he threw just 13 pitches to retire six batters.

“I really just wanted to throw strikes and rely on my fastball,” Jensen said. “The first three innings I got out pretty quickly and I just let them put the ball in play. They weren’t a great hitting team, but I relied on my control and movement.”

The Warriors jumped to a 3-0 lead after two innings. They scored one in the first and two in the second.

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Hanson reached on a walk and advanced to second on a Kleffman ground out.

Benson reached on a swinging bunt single down the third baseline line, which put runners on the corners.

A wild pitch then scored Hanson to put the Warriors on the board.

In the second inning, Matt Karlson singled with one out and reached second on a Carter Springer ground out. Alex Helmin then reached base on an error to put runners on the corners for Mitchell Brau.

A wild pitch scored Karlson and put Helmin on second and a Brau single scored Helmin to make it 3-0 Warriors.

“That helps your pitcher and it helps your defense,” Grams said of the early lead. “We struggled a little bit and gave those runs back and we don’t want to do that. The fact we got out to an early lead helped.”

Jensen got into trouble in the third inning. After he sent down the first two batters, he walked the No. 9 batter Grant Roob who then stole second.

St. Cloud’s leadoff hitter Will Allenspach reached on an error and then a hit by pitch loaded the bases for the pitcher Elian Mezquita who ripped a two-run single.

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Mezquita came back to bat in the fifth inning and tied the game 3-3 with an RBI single that scored Roob, who led off the inning with his second walk.

“I kept walking the guy in front of him which I didn’t want to do,” Jesnen said. “He put a couple good swings on some of my breaking pitches that hung in the middle of the plate.”

On the mound, Mezquita pitched seven innings and allowed three runs on three hits with four strikeouts. After the Warriors tagged him for three runs in the first two innings, he cruised allowing just two base runners, one on a walk and the other on an error, the last five innings he pitched.

“It’s the third time we have seen him in two years and he’s just really good,” Grams said. “He’s a good pitcher and a good hitter.”

St. Cloud formed a rally in the sixth inning with runners on first and second and one out. In the eighth, Jensen had to work out of a jam and he had some help. The inning started with Jensen recording his lone strikeout of the game. He walked the next guy and then Kleffman made a running catch in foul territory to make the second out.

Jensen forced a groundout to third which was the last batter he faced. He threw 102 pitches.

“He was a Warrior today,” Grams said. “He showed a lot of grit and battled through a lot of mental situations that we did not handle very well that he got himself out of. He really showed a lot of damage control with his pitches and keeping them at three.”

St. Cloud 3 4 4

Brainerd 4 4 5

WP: Adam Jensen. LP: Turman Toenjes.

Warriors 4, St. Cloud 3 (8 innings)
Key: Adam Jensen works a bases loaded walk to win the game in the eighth inning.
Conference: Brd 4-1, SC 2-3.
Overall: Brd 4-1, SC 2-3.
Next: Brainerd at Fergus Falls 5 p.m. Friday, April 29.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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