HIBBING — After losing 9-5 in game one of a doubleheader to Itasca Saturday, the Hibbing Community College baseball team needed some positivity,
The Cardinals got it in game two, scoring four first-inning runs, then doing just enough for an 8-4 victory over the Vikings Saturday at Al Nyberg Field.
Hibbing didn’t hit the ball well until the fifth inning of game one, but Cardinal coach Bob DeNucci could see things changing in the last three innings of that game.
“At the end of the first game, we started hitting the ball a little, and we played with a little more energy,” DeNucci said. “That carried over into this game. We were able to execute some situations that we’ve worked on in practice.
“Our pitching was good. (Ryan) Vondracek gave us a good start. Gavin (Constantine) held it down, and Cory (Wolters) shut it down.”
Vondracek went 4.1 innings, allowing nine hits. He struck out two. Constantine went 1.2 innings, giving up two hits. Wolters went the final inning, giving up two walks.
Hibbing staked Vondracek to a 4-0 lead in the first as Wolters reached on a bunt single, then Robert Rodriguez walked. Carter Pickard doubled home a run. Sean Bonner followed with a three-run home run.
“We’ve been struggling, and we needed a shot in the arm like that to start that game to get some confidence going,” DeNucci said. “I was explaining it to them in between games how playing bad can become contagious.
“When you start hitting a little, that’s contagious, too.”
Vondracek gave up a solo home run to David Morales in the second, then he pitched scoreless third and fourth innings.
Hibbing got that run back in the fourth as Kazdion Mount walked and stole second. He went to third on a flyout by Jake Miller, then Yadied Baez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 5-1.
Itasca finally got to Vondracek in the fifth.
With one out, Daniel Wensloff and Joshua Grimmer hit back-to-back singles, then Marquardt doubled home a run. Dawson Stevens reached on an error to drive in a run, then Morales singled home a run.
That’s when the play-of-the-game happened.
Collin Zahrbock singled to center field. Stevens tried to score from second, but Cardinal center fielder Hunter Herpel threw a strike to catcher Bonner to nail Stevens at the plate.
Constantine, who was pitching at the time, got the next hitter to fly out to keep the damage to a minimum.
“Hunter made a good throw to kill that rally,” DeNucci said. “The next fly ball would have been a sac fly. That was a huge throw. You get the extra out on it, and the next ball hit is a sac fly, and they’re still in the inning.
“Our outfield played well today.”
The Vikings had all of the momentum at that point, so Hibbing needed to quell that enthusiasm.
The Cardinals did that by scoring three runs in the fifth.
Wolters walked and took third on a single by Rodriguez. Pickard was hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases.
Bonner hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-4, then Hibbing pulled off a double steal to take a 7-4 lead.
With Noah Vinopal running for Pickard, DeNucci put a play on where Vinopal took off early from first. Itasca pitcher Riley Resnick stepped off the rubber and fired it to first. While that happened, Rodriguez took off from third and beat the throw for the second run of the inning.
“With the left-handed pitcher and Noah came into the game, we had him extend the lead, and our guy on third was going to break on the pickoff,” DeNucci said. “To be able to execute that, where everyone was safe, kind of sparked us.”
Vinopal would score on a single by Mount to all but seal the victory.
Wolters walked Marquardt to start the seventh, got an out, then walked David Morales. Wolters bore down and got the next hitter to fly out, then got a line out to shortstop to end the game.
Resnick tossed six innings, allowing six hits. He struck out three and walked four.
Wensloff, Gummer and Marquardt all had two hits for Itasca.
Hibbing got hits from six different players.
ICC 010 030 0 — 4 12 0
HCC 400 130 x — 8 6 2
Itasca: Riley Resnick (L) and Cade Marquardt; Hibbing: Ryan Vondracek (W), Gavin Constantine (5th), Cory Wolter (7th) and Sean Bonner; 2B — Marquardt, Carter PIckard; HR — Morales, Bonner.