HIBBING — If there’s one thing for certain, the Hibbing amateur baseball team is never out of a game.
The Miners found themselves trailing by six after 7 ½ innings, then by four after 8 ½ innings, but each time Hibbing found a way to rally back into the game.
Only Hibbing would come up one run short as Twin Ports held on for a 13-12 victory over the Miners Friday at Al Nyberg Field.
It was a disappointing loss, but Hibbing manager Jamie Steinberg was proud of the way his team battled through the entire nine innings.
“I always like that we’re fighting in the end,” Stenberg said. “We were fighting longer than just the last inning, which to my assessment, I applaud my guys for putting in a valiant effort to stay in the game, get good at bats and make it a close, competitive-natured game.
“A lot of this comes down to defense and key mistakes that we made defensively. That was the entire difference in the game.”
The North Stars would take a 1-0 lead after a half of an inning on two Miners’ errors, but Hibbing got a two-run double by Dylan Mattson, and an RBI double by Zack DeBoom to make it 3-1.
Twin Ports would score twice in the fourth as Ben Henson hit an RBI single and Zane Peterson an RBI groundout, then the North Stars took a 5-3 lead with two in the sixth on another Hibbing error and an RBI double by Brody Russell.
The Miners fought back with one in the sixth when Eli Sundquist hit a sacrifice fly, then Hibbing tied it in the seventh on a run-scoring fielder’s choice ground ball hit by Kyle Maki.
That’s when things went south for the Miners as Twin Ports scored six runs in the eighth, including a three-run home run by Caleb Fougner, RBI base hits by Brad MacDougall and Adam Shykes and a sacrifice fly by Russell.
Hibbing wasn’t about to die, however, as it came back with four runs in the eighth led by a two-run single DeBoom, a sacrifice fly by Chanler Dilday and an RBI triple by Sundquist.
The North Stars made it tougher on the Miners with a two-run ninth as Matt Solberg hit a run-scoring triple, then he scored on a throwing error.
“We didn’t have a set up for throwing our best guys,” Steinberg said. “It was an opportunity for some guys to get some innings, and I applaud them for throwing strikes, being around the plate and being effective.
“The key was our defense. Some of the plays we should have made. We’re athletic enough to do that. They gave us some easy outs that allowed their offense to continue, We have to shore that. If we do, we won’t be fighting to get back into the game. We’ll have control of the game more, and it’ll be ours to win.”
Even though Hibbing was trailing 13-9, it wasn’t about to give up.
Josh Sprague would walk, then Jeff Korpi tripled him home. Sundquist followed with another RBI triple, then he scored on a wild pitch to make it 13-12.
After a ground out, Joe Lescarbeau singled, but the next hitter struck out, and Mattson lined out hard to left field to end the game.
“Even though they scored a couple in the top, there was no doubt in my mind that we were going to make it competitive,” Steinberg said. “We were going to put some pressure on them, and give ourselves a chance to win. I could sense that the last three innings.
“That’s not how you try to win ball games. We do a good job playing late into ball games, but we have to shore up the earlier innings, and make sure we don’t put ourselves behind the way we do.”
Sundquist and Kanipes both had four hits in the game, and getting three each were Lescarbeau and Korpi. DeBoom and Mattson each had two hits.