'They didn't quit': Knight blow opener, rally to earn split against Hazen
In the last set of home games in their inaugural season, the Belfield-South Heart Post 144 Knights tussled with the Hazen Post 189 Astros, entertaining the crowd in attendance at the John J. Steiner American Legion Ballpark with two nail-biters on Friday, July 13.
The two teams each came away with a victory in the doubleheader, as Hazen won game one 4-3 while Belfield-South Heart captured the nightcap 7-6.
Standing at 5-foot-8, Knights slender outfielder Toby Wolf was instrumental in the outcome of each contest.
Down to their final strike, the Astros took a 4-2 lead with a three-run seventh. Post 144 responded with a run in the bottom of the frame and produced runners on first and third base, all with two outs. The rally was cut short when Wolf, swinging on the first pitch, meekly grounded in a fielder's choice to end the opener.
"I hit the first pitch and it hit the inside of my back," Wolf said. "I wish I could have opened up on it more and hit the sweet spot, but unfortunately I couldn't."
Beginning game two on the bench, Wolf suddenly was positioned to make up for his mistake. After Hazen again found life when faced with its last strike, this time tying the score at six with two runs the top of the fifth. Belfield-South Heart threatened, bringing the winning run 90 feet away from the plate when Wolf was inserted as a courtesy runner.
Braden Obrigewitch, who started game two on the mound for the Knights, lifted a fly ball to shallow left field. Wolf tagged up, collided with Astros catcher Hunter Keller standing in the base line and scored the game-winning run on his back.
"I was thinking about why the catcher was standing in the middle of the base line. After I crossed the plate, I was like 'Yes!' because I knew I redeemed myself from the first game," Wolf said. "When [coach] called me to courtesy run, I was thinking 'this is my chance at redemption' and I got the winning run."
Struggling with his control, Obrigewitch allowed a pair of runs to cross the plate after wild pitches and another two were walked in before Anton Krebs entered in relief.
Krebs was excellent, pitching four scoreless innings and keeping the Knights in contention. He also added to his cause at the plate in the bottom of the second with a RBI groundout that scored Tarence Dillinger. On the very next pitch, Shay Olson connected with an RBI single, plating Tyler Johnson, slicing the deficit to 4-2.
Post 144 added one more run in third and took the lead in the fourth following a two-run double down the third base line from Cauy Shypkoski. As Krebs and Preston Walker scored, Post 189 errantly threw the ball into the infield. Shypkoski, who did not put on the breaks, rounded third and added to the lead.
"They kept their heads up and they didn't quit," Knights head coach Kurt Silbernagel said. "Sometimes we aren't very strong-minded, they are just young and one bad thing can affected them for the rest of the night, but we really didn't tonight. ... Everybody was upbeat. We stuck with a good Hazen team, they're a quality team."
Olson began his day on the mound in the opener. Following a 1-2-3 first, Olson pitched out of the trouble, stranding runners over the next three frames.
Walking the first batter in the top of the sixth, Olson was pulled with a 2-1 lead, relinquishing only four hits and an earned run over five innings.
"We preach to these guys all the time that if you throw strikes, you are going to be in games. And Shay threw strikes," Silbernagel said.
Knights right-hander Tanner Obrigewitch entered in the sixth and struck out on the first two batters he faced in the top of the seventh.
Hazen center-fielder Jayce Zuern and first baseman Steven Baardson walked to keep the inning alive. The duo later advanced to second and third following a stolen base and passed ball.
Facing a 2-2 court and seeing nothing but fastballs, shortstop Dylan Martell gave Post 189 the lead when he smacked a line drive to center, just out of the reach of Wolf diving to his left.
"I've been struggling lately at the plate, but that time I just cleared my mind and hit the ball, let the ball hit the bat, I guess," Martell said. "He threw all fastballs and that pitch was a little down and away. I was pretty excited when I saw it land so we could score two runs and take the lead."
Hazen added an insurance run later in the frame. Lawson Babb was hit by a pitch and Dawson Bruner walked to load the bases, but Knights catcher Tyler White was off the mark with his toss back to the mound, allowing Martell to score. That extra run would prove to be pivotal.
"I'm really happy about the effort and the fight we have at the end of the game," Astros head coach Nate Leintz said. "I like seeing that we never give up, even though we are down on the scoreboard. It's nice to see that we are battling every at-bat, every pitch and trying to put the back in play, just trying to make something happen. We did that in both games and ended up battling back in both games, even though we lost the second one."
Hazen 4, Belfield-South Heart 3
H 000 100 3 — 4 5 3
BSH 010 100 1 — 3 8 2
H: Brandon Snyder (6.2), Dylan Martell (0.1) and Hunter Keller. BSH: Shay Olson (5), Tanner Obrigewitch (2), and Tyler White.
W—Snyder. L—Obrigewitch. S—Martel. HR—None.
Highlights: H: Adin Jungers 1-2; Lawson Babb 1-2; Martell 1-2, 2 R, 0.1 IP, S; Snyder 2-3, RBI, 6.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 2 K. BSH: Anton Krebs 2-4, R; Cauy Shypkoski 1-4, 2B; Tyler White 1-3, 2B, R; Tanner Jarrett 1-4, RBI; Toby Wolf 1-4, R; Olson 2-4, 2B, 5 IP, 4 H, R (ER), 5 BB, 3 K; T. Obrigewitch 2 IP, H, 3 R (2 ER), 3 BB, 4 K.
Belfield-South Heart 7, Hazen 6
H 400 02 — 6 7 5
BSH 021 31 — 7 6 1
H: Martell (4.1) and Keller. BSH: Braden Obrigewitch (0.1), Krebs (4.1), Shypkoski (0.1) and Xander Krump.
W—Obrigewitch. L—Martell. HR—None.
Highlights: H: Jayce Zuern 2-4, R, RBI; S Boardson 1-2; S Olander 1-3, R; B Zuern 1-2, R, RBI; Snyder 1-1, RBI; Martell 1-3, R, 4.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R (ER), 5 BB, 3 K. BSH: Tyler Johnson 1-2, R; Jarrett 1-3; Olson 1-2, RBI; Shypkoski 2-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 0.1 IP, BB, K; B. Obrigewitch 1-1, RBI, IP, 2 H, 4 R (4 ER), 5 BB; Krebs 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R (ER), 4 BB, 2 K.