NASHWAUK — On Friday, the Hibbing Community College baseball team got off to a fast start against Itasca and held a 4-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Vikings put up a seven-spot later in the game and came away with a 7-5 victory.
Hibbing was able to come away with doubleheader split, winning game two, then on Saturday, the Cardinals started fast again, to the tune of a 6-0 lead after three innings.
This time, Hibbing held on to that lead and defeated Itasca 10-5 in the first game of a doubleheader held at the Nashwauk-Keewatin Baseball Field.
In the second game, the Cardinals completed the sweep, winning 5-4.
“The goal was to win three-out-of-four, and we did that today,” Hibbing coach Dave Bevacqua said.
Hibbing starting pitcher Chanler Dilday got out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the first, then his team went to work offensively.
Dilday drew a one-out walk, then with two out, Darrick Calvillo singled, followed by an RBI base hit by Ray Santacruz. Braydon Borg then singled home a run to make it 2-0.
In the second, Jaiman Lamphere had a one-out walk and Carson Dobias singled. An errant throw allowed Lamphere to score, and Dobias went to third. He scored on a wild pitch to make it 4-0.
In the third, Evan Jerome singled, and took second on a wild pitch. Calvillo walked. Santacruz hit an RBI single, then scored on a wild pitch and just like that, it was 6-0.
Only Bevacqua wasn’t taking anything for granted.
“We got an early start Friday, getting up in front right away, then we let them back into the game,” Bevacqua said. “The challenge was to not let them back in it this time.”
Dilday kept that from happening as he spot on for the first four innings, allowing just one hit.
“He competed,” Bevacqua said. “That’s the one thing that you always get out of Chanler. He’s a competitor. When you put him out there, he’s going to go hard, but you can’t walk guys, and you can’t hit batters. You can’t give them free bases runners.
“He did a little bit too much of that, but he usually battles through that well.”
That’s what Dilday did in the first, walking one and hitting two batters, but he got out of it.
He wasn’t so fortunate in the fifth as Mike O’Malley walked, then with one out, Nick Shea singled. Euri Mora would single home a run, then Morgan Kapuan doubled home a run and it was 6-3.
The Cardinals came up with their biggest run in the fifth when Borg doubled with two out, then Jordan Perez singled him home to make it 7-3.
“That answered the fact that they scored,” Bevacqua said. “It would have been nice to tack on a couple of others, but they made some mistakes and gave us the opportunity to tack on a run.
“That pulled the momentum back on our side.”
Dilday would walk Riley Versich to start the sixth inning, which ended his day on the mound. Yazniel Ojeda came on in relief, and gave up a single to John Baker, then he got a fielder’s choice ground ball to put runners on first and third with one out.
Ojeda Skyler Forst to ground to third. Santacruz’s throw to second got the second out, then Dobias’ throw to the plate cut down Versich for the unconventional double play.
The Cardinals then put the game out of reach with a three-run sixth to make it 10-3.
Dilday walked with one out, then Jerome doubled. Calvillo was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Santacruz walked to force home a run, his third RBI game, then with two out, Perez hit a two-run single to give Hibbing that seven-run lead.
“That lets your pitchers go out there and throw strikes, get it over the plate,” Bevacqua said. “We wanted to make the defensive plays. It didn’t seem to work that way because we walked guys.”
Ojeda gave up a single and two walks to start the inning, which ended his time on mound. JD Cunningham came into the game and got the first hitting he faced to fly out.
He walked the next hitter to force home a run, then a fielder’s choice ground ball by Kohl Manzanares made it 10-5. Cunningham got the next hitter to fly out to end the game.
“It didn’t pan out the way we wanted it to, but as a coach you think, ‘It’s easy now,” Bevacqua said. “That same thing happened to us Friday. We were up 4-0, then they scored seven runs in one inning. That was the ball game.
“They had big innings against us Friday. You couldn’t relax at all.”
Jerome, Santacruz and Perez all had two hits for Hibbing.
Dilday would get the win, tossing those five innings, allowing five hits, walking four, striking out two and hitting three. Ojeda tossed the one inning, walking two and giving up one hit. Cunningham tossed one inning, walking one.
Noah Selb started for Itasca. He tossed 42/3 innings, giving up nine hits, walking four and striking out four. Jose Torres 1 1/3 innings, allowing two hits, and walking three.
Shea had two hits for the Vikings.
Trailing 4-2 in the seventh inning of game two, Hibbing mounted a three-run rally to take three-of-four from the Vikings, who have been on the top of the league for the past few seasons.
“With a team like Itasca that has been on the top of the division for so many years, that’s what we need to give our players the confidence to continue to win,” Bevacqua said. “Whether or not we’re one of the top teams in the conference this year, I’m not sure, but taking three-out-of-four puts us in a good position.”
Jerome would get the win, coming in relief in the third inning for starter Andrew Zamora.
In the seventh, Jerome doubled, then Perez and Borg and were hit by pitches to load the bases.
Jerome would score on a passed ball to make it 4-3.
With runners on second and third, Evyn Booth stepped to the plate and hit a walk-off single up the middle.
Bevacqua liked the way his team handled themselves, despite being down by two in the last inning.
“That’s the biggest thing,” Bevacqua said. “When you’re down going into the last inning, that shows a lot of character. The guys are more positive rather than negative that they could come back to win.
“It was the whole team. The bench was into it. That shows good team chemistry.”
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Itasca: Noah Selb (L), Jose Torres (5th) and Kohl Manzanares; Hibbing: Chanler Dilday (W), Yazniel (6th), JD Cunningham (7th) and Jaiman Lamphere; 2B — Morgan Kapuan, Even Jerome, Braydon Borg.