HIBBING — Last year, the Hibbing and Marble rivalry heated up, with the Miners winning three-of-the-five-games the two teams played against each other.
The rivalry will be renewed today when Hibbing travels to Marble to face the Mallards in a 7 p.m., contest at Steve Hecimovich Memorial Field.
Hibbing is coming off a doubleheader split on Saturday, but Miners manager Jamie Steinberg only had 10 players suited up for those two games.
He’s planning on having a few more on hand, so he has one objective in mind.
“I’m hoping for some guys to get some at bats, some innings and some playing time,” Steinberg said. “A majority of our main guys weren’t at the first doubleheader, so we need to get these guys going
“They have to be an inclusive part of this team. We have to get their seasons going. That’s my No. 1 priority. As for the outcome of the game, I’d say one-inning-at-a-time. It’s about finding successes for our players in what they can do for the team.”
It shouldn’t take much to get the juices flowing. All five of those games last year were hotly contested contests.
“I want to manage a hard-fought win,” Steinberg said. “It’s a series where everybody is excited for it. It was hard fought last year. It’ll be a combination of both, getting our feet wet for the season, and fighting through a game to pull out a victory.
“It’s not going to be easy.”
That’s because the Mallards can put together a scrappy team. They’re never out of a game, no matter what the score may be.
“They have a lot of the same guys,” Steinberg said. “Their core is relatively intact. They only have a few changes in their roster, one or two guys that hasn’t raised or lowered their level of how they compete.
“Both teams have a similar playing styles. That’s what makes it a fun game to be a part of to be at. The games last year went back-and-forth. It’s the same thing with the series. We took the first two games, lost the next two, so it went to a game five to see who was going to win it.”
Steinberg said trying to analyze this series is a nightmare.
“It’s hard to determine who has more strengths than weaknesses,” he said. “It’s hard to see who has the edge in the series, let alone game-to-game.”
A lot of that is determined by league schedules. Hibbing and Marble aren’t in the same league, so pitching matchups are usually determined by who has what league game on the horizon.
“A lot of it comes down to scheduling,” Steinberg said. “It all depends what we have during the week. That will determine who pitches. The pitching plan going into these games is going to be altered due to league schedules and league games.
“That’s going to affect who we throw out there. We won’t throw our best guys, but we’ll throw a guy who can get the job done. We have a league game Saturday, so we have to plan our pitching accordingly to be strong for that game. Marble will go about it in a similar fashion.”
The one thing Steinberg would like to clean up from Saturday is his teams’ defense.
“We need to break things down and be simple on the defensive front,” he said. “That will come with the rest of our roster showing up, and putting guys in defensive spots that compliment the team as a whole.
“I don’t see a huge problem at this point. It’s too early in the season to determine that. I haven’t seen all of my guys yet, but after two games, that’s all I would be concerned about.”