HIBBING — Jeff Korpi is now known as the walk-off king.
The Nashwauk-Keewatin native already had one walk-off hit this summer for the Hibbing amateur baseball team, and now he has two.
Korpi singled home the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Miners rallied from a 6-0 deficit to beat Minneapolis 7-6 Friday at Al Nyberg Field.
According to interim manager Zakk Bandemer, it was a good win for the team.
“We haven’t hit the ball a lot recently, but we had a lot of big hits,” Bandemer said. “Joe (Kanipes) had a home run. Boomer (Zack DeBoom) had a couple of doubles. We needed a big win.”
It didn’t come easy as the Angels rallied for six runs in the second inning.
Nick Sutherland hit a double, then Mike Nellssen was hit by a pitch. After a flyout, Kevin Bergman singled home a run, then Alex Beers reached on an error, which scored a run.
Matt Mahmoodi singled home a run, then with two out, Darren Ginther singled home two runs and Minneapolis had a six-run lead.
“Our thought our chances of winning were slim and none,” Bandemer said. “I think we all thought, ‘Here we go again.’ it’s a credit to the team.”
It started with that home run by Kanipes in the bottom of the second inning.
“We haven’t had many big hits for a week or two, so to get that home run, even though it was a solo shot, really gave a lot of guys some energy. Zack had a big double after that, and we got going from there.”
Hibbing starting pitcher Matt Erickson may have been nicked up for that six-run inning, but he settled in and held the Angels off of the scoreboard for the next five innings.
He would give up eight hits and strikeout 12.
His teammates started to give him some support especially in the fifth, by scoring three times to make it 6-4.
DeBoom tripled and scored on a single by Josh Sprague. Korpi walked, then Bandemer singled home a run. Minneapolis starting pitcher Chad Naegeli got a double-play ground ball to put a runner on third with two out.
Mike Belich would single Korpi home to cut the deficit to two.
“That gave us a chance going into the seventh inning,” Bandemer said.
In that seventh, Naegeli got the first two batters out, but Kole Zuidmulder lined a two-strike pitch into center field to get the rally started.
Dylan Mattson would walk, then Belich singled home a run to make it 6-5. Mattson, who reached third on the hit, would score on a wild pitch, then a walk to Jayson Hron, who stole second, put runners on second and third with two out.
Naegeli would strikeout the next hitter to get out of the inning.
“That was disappointing not getting the winning run because anything can happen,” Bandemer said. “Matt was done pitching, and it was all hands on deck from there. I’m glad it only took one inning because our pitching was slim.”
Korpi would replace Erickson on the mound in the eighth, and he faced four batters, giving up a single to Beers.
In the Miners’ half of the eighth, Kyle Maki reached on an error, then DeBoom walked. Sprague singled up the middle, but Maki was thrown out at the plate to keep the game alive.
“That guys made a great play,” Bandemer said. “There was only one out, so with a guy on third, I liked our chances.”
DeBoom did reach third on the throw to the plate, then Korpi singled up the middle. This time was no play at the plate as DeBoom trotted home with the winning run.
“Korpi came through again,” Bandemer said. “It was Korpi’s second walk-off hit of the year, so he must be the walk-off king.”
Belich finished with three hits, and getting two safeties was DeBoom.
Naegeli tossed seven innings, giving up eight hits. He struck out four and walked two. Beers took the loss, giving up two hits and walking one.
Sutherland and Bergman each had two hits.
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Minneapolis: Chad Naegeli, Alex Beers (L) (8th) and Kevin Bergman, Darren Ginther (7th); Hibbing: Matt Erickson, Jeff Korpi (W) (8th) and Mike Belich; 2B — Nick Sutherland, Jay Asmus, Zack DeBoom; 3B — DeBoom; HR — Joe Kanipes.