HIBBING — The Hibbing VFW baseball team needed a big district win, and Dane Mammenga and Logan Gietzen found a way to get it done.
Mammenga pitched five innings of seven-hit ball, and Gietzen clutched up in the bottom of the seventh inning as Post 1221 came away with a 5-4 victory over West Duluth Tuesday at Al Nyberg Field.
The Whitecaps are the No. 1 seed in the district, so Hibbing’s win could give it a better seeding for playoffs
Post 1221 co-manager Tim Zubich wasn’t sure what to expect after having a long layoff, but he had nothing to worry about.
“I was a little concerned on how we would play,” Zubich said. “It was a good ball game. Both teams, I thought, played well. There were a few plays here and there, but that’s baseball, especially at this level or any level.
“We played well. We played well. I’m glad that the boys found a way to win that one.”
Mammenga did his job. He struck out six and only walked one. Gietzen tossed the final two innings, striking out one and walking one.
The biggest thing — Post 1221 only had one error.
“That’s the key,” Zubich said. “Our pitchers threw well. They were around the plate, which was huge, and we made some plays defensively. A couple of the miscues some of it was communication and rushing it a little bit.
“We had a couple of tricky plays, but we’ll take it. It was a big district win.”
West Duluth got on the board first when Owen Hindermann hit an RBI double in the first, scoring Caleb Kilroy, who had also doubled.
Hibbing bounced back with a single run in the first as Gietzen had an RBI base hit, scoring Mammenga, who had walked and stole second.
Post 1221 then scored two more in the second as Adam Vinopal walked and stole second. Drew Forer singled him home. Forer scored on an RBI double by Mammenga.
“We always talk about answering back,” Zubich said. “Anytime they score, we try to get it back right after, if you can. That helps our pitchers out. You have to keep battling every time you’re at the plate.
“The one thing we need to do a better job with is with runners in scoring position, is putting that ball in play. That’s something we talk about. Overall, that was good.”
The Whitecaps answered back in their half of the third when Kilroy singled and scored on Hindermann’s second double of the game. He came around to score on Hibbing’s lone error of the game.
Right on cue, Post 1221 got that run back in their half of the third.
Drew Anderson walked with one out and stole second. With two out, Forer clutched up with a single to make it 4-3.
West Duluth tied the game in its half of the fifth as Shamus Shea walked. With two out, Hindermann singled, for his third hit of the game. Shea scored with Wyat Hindermann singled.
That set the stage for the bottom of the seventh inning, which couldn’t have worked out any better for Post 1221 with the heart of their order due up.
“I was hoping like what happened, we’d get the leadoff guy on,” Zubich said.
That happened when Mammenga walked. Gietzen then lined a single to right, which was going to advance Mammenga to third, but the ball was misplayed for an error, allowing Mammenga to score from first with the winning run.
“I knew I wasn’t bunting Logan, but I wasn’t sure if we’d steal or not,” Zubich said. “There were all sorts of scenarios playing through my head. I’m glad I didn’t do anything.
“Logan has been fighting it a little bit, so that was a big hit for him and our team.”
Brady McGinn started for West Duluth. He went four innings, givbing up four hits, striking out four and walking six. Owen Hindermann worked two innings, He give up one hit, struck out three and walked one.
Gietzen and Forer each had two hits.
Kilroy and Wyatt Hindermann had two hits.