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Kernels blank Knights for sixth straight win

With pitching and defense at the forefront, the Mitchell High School baseball team used its strengths Thursday. Adding in just enough offense, the Kernels won their sixth-straight game with a 3-0 victory over Region 2A rival Sioux Falls O'Gorman ...

Mitchell's Drew Kitchens fields a grounder as Sioux Falls O'Gorman's Jack Niedringhaus races to third base during a game on Thursday night at Cadwell Park. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Mitchell's Drew Kitchens fields a grounder as Sioux Falls O'Gorman's Jack Niedringhaus races to third base during a game on Thursday night at Cadwell Park. (Matt Gade / Republic)

With pitching and defense at the forefront, the Mitchell High School baseball team used its strengths Thursday.

Adding in just enough offense, the Kernels won their sixth-straight game with a 3-0 victory over Region 2A rival Sioux Falls O'Gorman at Cadwell Park.

Mitchell pitcher Briggs Havlik was strong on the mound for six scoreless innings and Koby Larson closed the door in the seventh inning for the Kernels, who stranded 12 O'Gorman runners on base.

"Obviously, I can just tell on our defense, and maybe it's just an instinct thing but guys are doing a really good job," Mitchell coach Luke Norden. "We've had some diving plays and guys are just instinctively expecting the ball a lot more, with mostly the same guys as last year. You can just tell that's really just helped our defense a lot."

The Kernels' offense wasn't firing on all cylinders Thursday but Norden wasn't too discouraged.

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"We spent our time off from the last game, over a week ago, we spent working on offense," he said. "Some time it's going to pop through but it was really good to see our pitching continue to be where it's been."

Havlik scattered seven hits and had six punchouts, the last of which left the bases loaded for the Knights after Havlik blew three pitches past O'Gorman's Aaron Nesbitt.

"It's just been great, to have our defense and pitching working together," Havlik said. "They've got my back and I've got their backs out there."

Against O'Gorman's strong starter Louis Peterson, the Kernels were kept to one hit in the first three innings but broke through in the fourth. A Sam Michels single was followed on the next pitch by a double to left-center field by Drew Kitchens, scoring Michels from the furthest base for a 1-0 lead.

Mitchell added to the lead in the fifth, with Elijah Pommer singling and Jed Schmidt reaching on an error. Three batters later, Michels hit a two-out single to left to bring home Pommer and Schmidt to build the 3-0 lead.

O'Gorman threatened one final time in the seventh inning but the Kernels turned a double play to record the first two outs. After two runners reached base, Michels threw out his second runner of the game from his catcher position, picking off Grady Gulbranson at first base to end the game.

"Our defense makes great plays and as a pitcher, that gives you so much confidence," Havlik said. "To play that way at home, in front of our crowd, that's great."

Mitchell (11-3) is set to play a pair of doubleheaders this weekend, at Yankton on Saturday and hosting Rapid City Central at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Related Topics: KERNELSBASEBALL
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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