Legion Blue splits
NEW ULM – New Ulm Legion Blue used bunts to beat Mankato American 5-1 in the latter half of a doubleheader on Monday at Mueller Park.
In the first game, Blue committed 11 errors of its own and left eight runners stranded on base en route to losing 9-3.
“It wasn’t our best game,” said Brandon Beranek, who went 3-for-4 with two runs and a triple at the plate in Game 1. “Maybe we weren’t really focused or ready to go, but we picked it up in the second game.”
American led 1-0 heading into the seventh inning, having scored a run on a play where both the Blue second baseman and left fielder overthrew their target in the bottom of the second to allow Jacob Peller to score.
Brett Taylor led the seventh inning off by walking Matt Rowley before trying to field a first-pitch bunt by Nick Vogel. Taylor overthrew the first baseman, however, to leave a runner on first and second.
Wyatt Oelberg laid down a first-pitch bunt in the next at-bat, which was fielded and overthrown again by Taylor to allow Rowley to score to tie the game 1-1.
Jesse Baumgartner continued the trend with a perfectly laid bunt of his own that counted for a hit and drove in Vogel for a 2-1 lead and no outs.
“We wanted to get it tied and get that one-run lead, but then they made some errors and it just kept building,” Beranek said. “It got us the win.”
In total, Blue scored five runs – four unearned – in the inning to completely deplete the American bench heading into the bottom of the seventh.
Bailey Batt retired the side to put a lid on his complete-game victory. He scattered six hits, gave up one unearned run and one walk.
“He mixes his speeds, he throws strikes,” Beranek said of Batt. “Usually when he pitches, we play pretty good defense.”
Taylor got the loss in 6 1/3 innings pitched. He allowed five hits and one earned run.
Connor Forbrook led Blue at the plate, tallying two of its five hits. Beranek went 1-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored, while Baumgartner went 1-for-2 with one RBI, one run scored and one walk. Jarin Spence had a leadoff double in the fourth.
Blue continues its push for the playoffs at 5:45 p.m. on Tuesday, when it hosts Worthington at Johnson Park. New Ulm Legion Gold will then play Worthington at 7:45 p.m.