Mitchell Post 18 Defense leads charge in wins over Valley Springs, Pierre
Catcher Michael Sadler is an anchor for Mitchell's defense. The Mitchell Legion baseball team won two games Thursday at Cadwell Park, and Sadler was behind the plate all 14 innings, only one day after catching 14 innings Wednesday in Watertown. "...
Catcher Michael Sadler is an anchor for Mitchell's defense.
The Mitchell Legion baseball team won two games Thursday at Cadwell Park, and Sadler was behind the plate all 14 innings, only one day after catching 14 innings Wednesday in Watertown.
"It's fun staying in the game all the time," Sadler said under the lights of Cadwell Park in Mitchell after Post 18's 5-3 win over Pierre in the nightcap.
Sadler and Mitchell's defense was solid all day, which started with a 6-3 win over Valley Springs.
Mitchell coach Luke Norden said his team's defense has been the team's most improved aspect of its game this year. Sadler has been at the helm of Mitchell's defense, calling pitch after pitch on a game-by-game basis.
Post 18 pitchers gave up five earned runs in two games Thursday, helping move the team's record to 11-7. Mitchell pitchers also recorded eight strikeouts on the day.
"It's always nice to have (Sadler) back there due to the fact that a lot of teams don't try and steal," said Norden, who admitted he considered sitting Sadler against Pierre in case the team needed relief pitching. "The grit that he brings, our pitchers trust him to block the balls back there."
Mitchell made two outstanding defensive plays on the day, one coming in each game. Center fielder Lakin Neugebauer made a diving catch on an all-out sprint to right-center field in the top of the sixth inning against Valley Springs that took away an extra-base hit.
Against Pierre, Mitchell second baseman Seth Cavanaugh made a leaping catch in the top of the sixth that looked to be a sure base hit.
"We know if we play good defense, and we always have good pitching, we'll stay in the game," Sadler said.
In the first game, Valley Springs scored one run in the second inning for the game's first lead. Josh Schmidt started for Post 18. He got two quick outs in the second, but allowed a single, a walk, a single and a bases-loaded walk for push across Valley Springs' first run.
Mitchell responded with three runs in the bottom of the fourth with RBIs from Kirby Fuerst and Matt Larson. Valley Springs tied it at 3 in the top of the fifth when Schmidt gave up a two-out double to get pulled from the mound. Cavanaugh earned the win in relief for Post 18, giving up two hits in 2 1/3 innings.
"The main thing we had trouble with was getting the third out," Norden said. "We had 10 guys reach base in the first game with two out."
Sadler scored the go-ahead run on an error in the bottom of the sixth for a 4-3 lead, and Zach Bennett and Evan Mastel each had RBI singles for two insurance runs.
Bennett, Larson and Jared Schmidt each had two hits in the win.
Mitchell recorded all six of its hits and scored all five of its runs in the first two innings against Pierre.
Mastel opened the game on the mound and retired Pierre's first three hitters to lead to two first-inning runs for Post 18.
Neugebauer opened the game with a walk, Sadler moved him up with a sacrifice bunt and Schmidt had an RBI single to left to put Mitchell on top. Two batters later, Schmidt scored on Derek Milller's single to left.
Alex Herrick, Bennett and Neugebauer had three straight singles to open the second to score Post 18's third run, and Cavanaugh had a shot to left for a two-RBI single.
After that hit, Mitchell's offense went cold. Cavanaugh was the last base runner for Post 18 of the day, but Mitchell's defense worked out of jams in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings to pick up the win. Pierre outhit Mitchell 12-6.
"We have the ability to make great plays," Norden said. "I wish our hitting and pitching would catch up to the effort we've given defensively."
Mastel earned the victory for Mitchell, throwing 5 2/3 innings. He gave up nine hits, two runs and didn't walk a batter. He struck out three. Schmidt got the four-out save.
Six Mitchell players had hits in the game, all were singles. Sadler had two sacrifice bunts.
Post 18 hosts Minot, N.D., Monday at Cadwell Park in its next action.