Baseball: Wild doubleheader ends in split for Warriors
Brainerd hosts Alexandria in doubleheader Thursday, May 4
BRAINERD — A rollercoaster day ended in a doubleheader split for the Brainerd Warriors and Alexandria Cardinals Thursday, May 4.
The Warriors scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh to win Game One 7-6. The Cardinals took advantage of Brainerd miscues to take Game Two 7-4.
“We made a couple of mistakes in the second game and Alexandria took advantage of them,” Warriors head coach Trent Grams said. “We are happy with the fight and how hard we played. We are happy with the offense because we are putting the ball in play and making the other team earn it. We have to clean up some of the little mistakes though.”
Jon Benson reached base six times in the two games which included a home run and four hit-by-pitches.
“His approach today was really, really good,” Grams said. “He got on base a lot and made himself a very tough out and that’s what we like to see out of him.”
The Warriors led 4-0 in Game One after five innings with a three-run third inning and one run in the fourth.
Brody Lund hit an RBI single to score Sawyer Hennessey to start the scoring for Brainerd in the third. A Wyatt Gabrielson single scored Isaac Hanson and Lund scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
In the fourth inning, Keaton Lingenfelter led off with a double and scored on a Hanson triple.
Hanson started Game One and allowed two runs in six innings with eight strikeouts.
“The progression is going well for him,” Grams said of Hanson. “We let him go 70-75 pitches to start the year and now are starting to extend that and we hope that helps his confidence a little bit moving forward.”
Hennessey came in to close it out in the seventh, but allowed four singles in a row which tied the game 4-4.
The Cardinals scored two more on an error to take a 6-4 lead.
Benson hit a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh to make it 6-5 and spark the comeback.
“I had a math test before the game, so I showed up a little late to the game, but I was seeing the ball really well in the cage,” Benson said. “In the seventh there, coach (Dylan) Knipple came up to me and just told me to have fun and see the ball well. A few pitches in I decided I needed to turn on something and I got the pitch I wanted and hit it hard.”
After the homer, Gabrielson walked, stole second and advanced to third on a Mitch Brau single.
With Cayden Brown at the plate, Gabrielson scored on a wild pitch to tie the game. Brown walked followed by an Eli Hoelz intentional walk to load the bases. With Lingenfelter at bat, Brau scored the winning run on a wild pitch.
“We loved the response there,” Grams said. “We had some good senior leadership in that seventh inning. We got a couple of runners on and you could start to feel it. The boys played hard and we were proud of their effort in that first game.”
Hennessey started Game Two for the Warriors and got through the first two innings scoreless.
In the third, the Cardinals plated four runs, but only tallied two hits in the inning. Cameron Simon reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases with two outs and Gage Castle ripped a single to make it 1-0.
August Gulbranson followed with a two-run single and the Cardinals scored their fourth run of the inning on an error.
Brainerd got one back in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Hoelz. He finished Game Two with two hits and a run scored.
“He’s doing a good job at the bottom of our order,” Grams said. “He’s putting the ball in play and making the other team work. He’s very fast too, so whenever the ball is on the ground he’s got a chance. His production is really good right now.”
The Cardinals responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth highlighted by a solo home run by Caleb Gimbel with two outs.
Simon recorded an RBI single and Castle an RBI double for the Cardinals to make it 7-1.
Gabrielson got an RBI on a ground out in the fifth and Hoelz scored on a balk in the sixth to cut the Alex lead to 7-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, Benson led off with his fourth hit-by-pitch of the doubleheader — something he laughed about after the game.
“I have to take the base whenever I can get it, but it is kind of frustrating after a while,” he said. “Four in one day is a lot, but it happens.”
Benson’s courtesy runner Eric Eidenshink scored on a throwing error by the Cardinals’ right fielder on a Brown single.
Brown’s single brought the tying run to the plate with one out, but Alexandria’s Wyatt Mohr struck out Hoelz and Lingenfelter to give the Cardinals the split.
The split moved the Warriors to 4-3 in Central Lakes Conference play and 4-5 overall. Brainerd is back in action Tuesday, May 9, at Sartell in hopes of starting a win streak.
“We just need to show a little more consistency in the mental part of the game,” Grams said.
Benson added: “We just have to be solid on both sides of the ball. We are starting to hit the ball better and our defense and pitching is starting to come along. We will be just fine.”
Alexandria 6 6 2
Brainerd 7 10 3
WP: Brody Lund. LP: Brady Swensrud. 2B: Brd-Eli Hoelz, Keaton Lingenfelter; Alex-Gavin Klimek. 3B: Brd-Isaac Hanson. HR: Brd-Jon Benson.
Brainerd 4 4 2
Alexandria 7 7 4
WP: Carter Simonson. LP: Sawyer Hennessey. 2B: Alex-Gage Castle. HR: Alex-Caleb Gimbel.
Warriors Split with Alexandria
Key: Brainerd wins on a walk-off in Game One and loses with the tying run at the plate in Game Two.
Conference: Brd 4-3, Alex 3-5.
Overall: Brd 4-5, Alex 3-5.
Next: Brainerd at Sartell 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 9.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.