Kernels get walk-off win in game two to improve to 8-3 on seasonOn the first pitch he saw in the last at-bat of the game, Mitchell’s Zach Bennett lined a hit that dropped in front of Brookings right fielder Matt Thomas to cap a doubleheader sweep Friday night.
By: Luke Hagen, The Daily Republic
On the first pitch he saw in the last at-bat of the game, Mitchell’s Zach Bennett lined a hit that dropped in front of Brookings right fielder Matt Thomas to cap a doubleheader sweep Friday night.
Mitchell (8-3) manufactured two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in the second game to beat Brookings 3-2 in walk-off fashion after taking the first game 6-2 at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.
“I was real glad Zach didn’t take a pitch,” said Mitchell coach Luke Norden, whose team has three walk-off wins this season. “He went right after it and got the job done right away.”
Brookings broke a scoreless game in the nightcap with a pair of two-out runs in the top of the fifth inning. Bennett scored in the bottom of the sixth to make it a one-run game before he got to be the hero an inning later.
Bennett, who had a walk-off hit in Mitchell’s season-opening doubleheader sweep of Sioux Falls Lincoln, came to the plate with two out and the bases loaded. His game-winning RBI to the opposite field gave him his second hit of the game, making him the only Kernels player with multiple hits in game two.
To open the bottom of the seventh, Mitchell’s Michael Sadler was hit by a pitch. In the next at-bat, Calvin Limberg dropped a bunt in front of the plate and reached base when Brookings catcher Konner Beste fired to second base to try to force out Mitchell’s lead runner, Ty Moody, who was running for Sadler.
“We set our bunt defense up to get an out at first base, and our catcher threw it to second,” Brookings coach Ryan Bauer said. “We couldn’t make an out, and that probably ended up being the difference in the game.”
Evan Mastel had a sacrifice bunt to move Moody and Limberg up, and after Josh Schmidt was intentionally walked to load the bases, Lakin Neugebauer had an RBI groundout to second to tie the game on a 2-2 count. Then, Bennett kept it from going into extras with the slap to right.
Jared Schmidt picked up the win in relief of his twin brother, Josh, who pitched 4 2/3 innings. Jared Schmidt had an RBI single to right in the sixth inning to push across Bennett to get the Kernels within one.
Brookings (1-4) left 11 men on base in the second game of the doubleheader, and Skylar Cary took the loss in his first start of the season. He pitched the entire game for Brookings and struck out three.
“We’re looking for our offense to pick it up and find a spark,” Bauer said.
Mitchell left 15 men on base in the first game. Kirby Fuerst pitched five strong innings and didn’t allow an earned run. He picked up the win, giving up three hits and striking out five.
The Kernels gave Fuerst an early lead, scoring three first-inning runs on a passed ball, an error and an RBI single from Brent Havlik, who had two hits. Neugebauer and Bennett each had RBIs without recording a hit in the sixth inning to add two insurance runs, and Seth Cavanaugh pitched a perfect seventh inning.
Limberg was 2-for-2 in the first game and also reached on two walks. He only got out once in the doubleheader on a soft line drive to shortstop in his first at-bat of the second game.
“He’s been very consistent,” Norden said. “He’s been probably our most consistent hitter we’ve had so far.”
Mitchell’s next action is at 6 p.m. Monday in Huron for the Kernels’ first region game of the year.