Hornets down Hermantown, 9-8

HIBBING — If it is their last game, the Hibbing Babe Ruth Team No. 1 can at least say they won a game.

The Hornets got some timely hitting and good pitching en route to a 9-8 victory over Hermantown Friday at Al Nyberg Field.

Cole Mammenga picked up the pitching win, tossing seven innings of nine-hit ball. He struck out five and walked three.

Hermantown pitcher Nick Harju was just as effective as he went six innings, giving up nine hits. He fanned eight and walked four.

The Hornets finally put a complete game together.

“It was a back-and-forth game between two comparable teams,” Hibbing coach Adam Schafer said. “Early on, we gave them some free runs, but I commend our guys for their resiliency.

“They stayed in the game for a full seven, so that was the biggest thing, seven innings of focus. They got the job done. I was proud of that effort, and I’m happy they can end their season with a win.”

That win wouldn’t come easy as the Hawks would jump on the board first as Harju singled with one out and stole second. Eli Hedin laced a double to the left-center field gap to make it 1-0.

Mammenga stranded runners on first and third by getting to pop outs.

Hibbing responded in its half of the first as Noah Vinopal, who would finish with four hits, singled, and Ryley Lund singled. Will Durie laced an RBI base hit, then Mammenga bombed a three-run home run over the left-field wall and it was 4-1.

Hermantown would take the lead in the third with four runs led by an RBI singles by Ian Ritchie and Sam Plante. One run scored on an error and the other on a balk.

Trailing 5-4, the Hornets opened their half of the third with back-to-back walks to Durie and Mammenga. Codieh Powers singled to load the bases. Dan Rusten drew an RBI walk, then Ethan Lund hit an RBI fielder’s choice ground ball.

After a walk to Brody Niskanen, Isaac Erickson hit a sacrifice fly, then Vinopal singled home a run to give Hibbing an 8-5 lead.

Schafer liked the way his team handled themselves after falling behind twice in the game.

“They were resilient, and they knew they were hitting the ball hard,” Schafer said. “Their kid threw well, but we were squaring him up. We had a lot of good barrel contact. They knew that three or four down, that they were on the kid, and they had an opportunity to stay in the game.

“I liked the resilience they showed.”

Hermantown wasn’t finished as it scored twice in the fourth, one crossing the plate on an error, and the other on a fielder’s choice ground ball hit by Ritchie.

The Hawks tied it the game 8-8 in the fifth as Wyatt Carlson singled, then Plante singled him to third. Josh Summers hit an RBI fielder’s choice ground ball to even things up.

“That’s been the story of our summer,” Schafer said. “We get a lead, then it goes back the other way. We didn’t get to a point of mentally breaking down and not finishing. That was the resilient part of it.

“We made sure we stayed on them for seven innings. That was good to see.”

Mammenga had a one-two-three sixth inning, then with the top of their order coming up, the Hornets took a one-run lead heading into the seventh.

Vinopal doubled to start the inning. Lund would get an infield single, and when the ball was thrown down the right field line, Vinopal scored the go-ahead run.

“Noah had a great game at the plate,” Schafer said. “It was one of those things where the top of the order being the table setters. He started it off with the double, then the guys behind him did their job, moving him over and getting him in.

“It was good timely baseball. That’s how you draw it up, and it worked out. That was exciting. I’m happy for the guys.”

It looked like Hermantown might tie the game in the top of the seventh when Ritchie doubled, but his pinch runner was picked off second for the first out of the inning.

Mammenga then got a pop out and ground out to preserve the win.

Vinopal led Hibbing with those four hits, including two doubles and triple. Lund had two hits. Plante had three hits for the Hawks. Hedin had two doubles. Ritchie had two hits as did Carlson.

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