By Erik Steffenson
Northfield 4, Moorhead 2
Mathison keeps Brewers bats frustrated; Benjamin delivers late go ahead single as Northfield rallies past Moorhead
It was a pitchers' duel between Moorhead’s Tanner Dahl and Northfield’s Jake Mathison for most of the game as bats stayed relatively quiet for the first six innings of the game. Mathison had five strikeouts through the first five innings and both pitchers had only allowed four hits each for the first five frames as well.
Northfield started the scoring in the third inning when Scott Benjamin hit a one out double that was 10 feet shy of being a home run and would score on a sacrifice fly by Aldon Severson.
It would stay 1-0 until the top of the seventh with Chris Clemenson tying the game on a solo home run that just barely carried over the right field wall.
Scott Benjamin led off the bottom half with a strikeout but advanced to first on the wild pitch. Eric Pittman advanced him the next at bat on a single up the middle but a misplay by the Brewer center fielder led to Benjamin advancing to third. McDonald followed by delivering a sacrifice fly to score Benjamin for the second time in the game.
Denver Blinn led off the eighth inning for the Brewers with a single, his third hit of the game. It followed with a single and walk to load the bases with no outs. Mathision managed to escape the jam by getting a fielder’s choice with an out at home, a sacrifice fly by Tanner Adam, and a groundout to third and left the mound with only one run scored and tie ballgame.
In the bottom half the Knights responded by getting the first two runners aboard via Mathison hitting a double and a walk. The next two batters got out leaving them with runners on third and second with two outs. Benjamin delivered a hard hit ground ball up the middle to score both runners.
Mathison managed to get a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth as Northfield secured the win to play Chanhassen at Jordan tomorrow.
“This was Jake’s game, he kept us in it and we all in the dugout know that we could get the runs to support him. In a back and forth game we knew we could come through to get the win,” Benjamin said, crediting his teammate for the win. Benjamin was responsible for all four Knight runs.
Dahl pitched 7 ⅔ innings allowing nine hits, four runs (two earned) while striking out six. Mathison hurled all nine innings allowing eight hits, only two runs, and striking out seven.
“It’s just a matter of throwing strikes and trusting the guys behind me to play solid defense which they did today. These guys (Brewers) are a good hitting team. It feels good to help get us further in the tournament.” Mathison said.
Chanhassen 4, Sauk Rapids 0
Logan Spitzack fires 12 strikeouts as Red Birds shutout Sauk Rapids
Chanhassen already had an uphill battle going into today’s game with Jason Hoppe on the mound for the Cyclones. Hoppe had spent last year with the St. Paul Saints after three years in minor league baseball between the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers organization. However, Logan Spitzack was up to challenge for the Red Birds.
No one was going to cave early in this one as there was no score through three frames. The advantage though was in favor of the Cyclones, who had stranded six runners at that point and were getting on base. Hoppe had faced the minimum during his first three innings of work.
Chanhassen caught a break in the fourth inning when Garrett Fischer walked with one out and attempted to steal second base and Cyclones catcher Mat Meyer threw the ball into the outfield allowing Fischer to go to third. Center fielder Riley Johnson then hit a sacrifice fly to center field and Fischer beat the throw by half a second to get the Red Birds on the board.
The Red Birds took advantage of more Cyclones errors in the seventh inning. It started with a single Shawn Riesgraf who would get pinch run for by Kyle Fischer. Justin Anderson walked next and then Derek Smith hit what could of been an inning ending double play but the second baseman bobbled the catch which made it bases loaded with one out.
Mark Smith hit a sacrifice fly to score Fischer and move Anderson to third, but more importantly make it 2-0. Adrian Turner, the designated hitter, then struck out but a passed ball by the catcher allowed Anderson to score and the inning to continue. Shortstop Brandon Arnold hit a short ground ball to score and beat out the throw to first and Smith took off for home after the throw and scored to make it 4-0 (all runs were unearned).
Despite the Cyclone errors, Hoppe had a solid outing on the hill as he did not allow the first hit until the sixth inning on a infield single by Brandon Arnold. He also allowed only five hits while striking out six in eight innings of work.
Logan Spitzack started the game a little unsettled as he had left nine runners on through five innings and had walked five batters to striking out five. He was locked and loaded though the rest of the way as he only allowed one hit while striking out seven. His line at the end of the night read nine innings, five hits allowed, walking seven, but striking out twelve.
“We had faced these guys before and I knew that they liked to hit fastballs so I had to mix it up and we changed our game plan. I slowed down and just kept dealing,” Spitzack said.
Chanhassen will face Northfield at 5 p.m. Saturday in Jordan.