HIBBING — For 3 2/3 innings, things were cruising along for the Hibbing Babe Ruth baseball team.
The Hornets held a 4-2 lead, and looked to be taking that two-run lead into the bottom of the fourth, then the wall caved in.
Cloquet would score six runs, all with two out in the fourth, then it added five more runs in the fifth en route to an 18-11 Babe Ruth baseball victory over Hibbing Tuesday at Al Nyberg Field.
Up until that point, the Hornets had things well under control.
“Nisky was in a groove. He was throwing strikes,” Hibbing coach Adam Schafer said. “He was confident. That was a different Nisky than we saw in the first game of the year. That was a positive early on in the game.
“We were picking up the ball. We had opportunities to break it open, too.”
Cloquet started the scoring when Tyman reached on an error, then took second on a passed ball.
Hayes followed with an RBI double. He took third on a wild pitch, then scored on a ground out by Eckenberg.
The Hornets responded with three runs in their half of the first when Noah Vinopal reached on an error, then Connor Willard and Jacob Stahl both walked. Evan Vinopal singled up the middle to drive home a run.
With one out, Justin Yuretich walked to force home a run, then Adam Vinopal walked, which brought home another run and it was 3-2.
Hibbing loaded the bases in the second, but left three runners stranded, then in the Cloquet third, Psyck reached on a two-base error when his fly ball was dropped in center field, but Niskanen retired the next two hitters to get out of the inning.
The Hornets came back with one run in the third to take a 4-2 lead.
Adam Vinopal walked and took second on a wild pitch. Mark Borland singled him to third, then an errant pick-off attempt allowed Vinopal to score.
Hibbing did load the bases again as Noah Vinopal and Willard drew walks, but Cloquet relief pitcher, Turnbull, struck out the next hitter to end the threat.
“We left six guys on base, and we still came out of it with five runs,”Schafer said. “That first part of the game was good baseball.”
Then came the fourth.
It looked like Niskanen was going to have an easy fourth inning as he got the first two hitters to ground out.
Walsh hit a line drive to short that was just off the glove of Noah Vinopal, then the walls caved in on the Hornets.
Sarkela and Nordin walked to load the bases, but Tyman hit a ground ball back to Niskanen, who picked it up and fired it to first. The ball was dropped, allowing two runs to score, tying the game 4-4.
Psyck singled home two runs, then Hayes doubled home a run. Eckenberg singled home a run, then when his ball was misplayed in the outfield, the sixth run of the inning crossed the plate to make it 8-4.
“It’s one of those things,” Schafer said. “Once you get in that rut, we didn’t get that last out, then it snowballed on us. We couldn’t find an out anywhere. There were a few walks, a few errors, then you get a blooper and they break it wide open.
“Once it snowballs, you have to find an out somewhere, we weren’t able to do that.”
Hibbing would score once in its half of the fourth as Evan Vinopal walked, took second on a wild pitch, third on a ground out and he scored on a ground out hit by Yuretich.
Cloquet set 10 hitters to the plate in the fourth, then in the fifth, it sent another 10 hitts to plate, scoring five more times.
Turnbull and Werhan both walked and Walsh reached on an error to load the bases. After a strikeout, Tyman hit an RBI single, Psyck singled home a run and Hayes hit a two-run single to make it 12-5.
The final run of the inning scored on an error and it was 13-5.
“Now, you’re in a hole where you have to put up a zero to give yourself a chance to get back into it offensively,” Schafer said.
The Hornets rallied for three runs in their half of the fifth when Joe Senich singled, then Noah Vinopal was hit by a pitch with one out. With two out, Stahl doubled home two runs, then he scored on a single by Niskanen.
Hibbing made a game of it with three runs in the sixth.
Adam Vinopal was hit by a pitch, then Joe Senich doubled. With one out, Noah Vinopal tripled home two runs to make it 13-10.
Noah Vinopal scored on an RBI groundout by Willard and it was 13-11.
Cloquet put a damper on that comeback effort by sending another nine hitters to the plate in the seventh, scoring four runs.
Hayes had a sacrifice fly, Tyman hit an RBI single, Turnbull a one-run double and Werhan a sacrifice fly.
“We get within two, and it snowballed on us again,” Schafer said. “They hit the ball that inning. It wasn’t a matter of walks. Cloquet found a few green spots out there.”
Tyman pitched two innings, allowing only one hit, but walked seven and struck out three. Turnbull tossed one inning, allowing one hit, striking out three and walking three. Psyck tossed three innings, allowing six hits, striking out three and walking two. He hit two batters.
Eckenberg worked the last inning, allowing one hit and striking out one.
Niskanen worked four innings, giving up six hits, striking out two and walking two. Evan Vinopal tossed one inning, giving up three hits, striking out two and walking one. Willard worked two innings, giving up four hits, striking out two and walking two.