HIBBING — The Hibbing amateur baseball team split a doubleheader with Mora Sunday, winning game one 3-2, but falling in game two, 3-1, at Al Nyberg Field.
The games featured the top two teams in the Eastern Minny Northern Division, so it was essentially a battle for first place.
As it turned out, the split kept the two teams even.
“That was the bottom-line goal coming into it,” Hibbing manager Jamie Steinberg said. “We needed a split. You always want to take two, but they’re a tough team. They’re on top of the division with us.
“These games were important to see who would come out leading it. Splitting was a fair compromise. We have to make sure we’re on top of our game in the playoffs.”
In the first game, Dan Wood was the winning pitcher, tossing seven innings, allowing eight hits and striking out nine.
“He did an excellent job,” Steinberg said. “He was on his game. He got strikeouts when he needed to, and our defense was pretty good behind him. That’s the kind of combination we need, we’ve been looking for all year.
“We needed our offense as usual, but we didn’t put up a bunch of runs.”
The Blue Devils took the early lead with two runs in the fourth inning as Adam Burgess hit an RBI fielder’s choice ground ball, and Troy Jones an RBI single.
The Miners responded with two runs in their half of the fourth.
Dylan Mattson led off with a single, then Joe Lescarbeau singled. Mattson moved to third on an error by Patterson, then Joe Kanipes singled him home. Lescarbeau scored the go-ahead run as he stole home.
“It was a never-give-up attitude with our hitters,” Steinberg said. “We knew we could get the job done. It was only a matter of time until we got to their pitcher. It was nice to counter with them with those two runs.
“It was important to keep the momentum the same. We were able to manufacture a run in the last inning to make it the difference. That was a testament to their pitcher. Our offense wasn’t shutdown completely. We had our opportunities, but we fizzled out every time we had an opportunity. Give credit to their pitchers for getting out of those innings.”
Hibbing gained an insurance run in the fifth when Eli Sundquist singled and stole second. Mattson followed with an RBI single and it was 3-2.
Wood did the rest as he faced 11 batters over the final three innings.
“We knew Dan would finish the game out, but at that point, the only decision we had to figure out was with his pitch count, and how he was feeling at the time,” Steinberg said.
Asa Patterson took the loss, working six innings. He gave up eight hits, struck out four and walked one.
Mattson finished with two hits, and getting one each were Sundquist, Lescarbeau, Kanipes, Jayson Hron, Kyle Maki and Jeff Korpi.
Michael Humphrey and Darin Erickson both had two hits for Mora.
In game two, Derek Graves out-dueled Jamie Steinberg on the mound to get the hard-fought win.
Graves gave up six hits in seven innings. He struck out 10 and walked one.
Steinberg was just as effective, allowing three hits, striking out two and walking one.
“I felt good out there,” Steinberg said. “I threw four solid innings, and I still felt good in the fifth, but that was the inning they got a few runs. They didn’t earn them, but that gave them some momentum and confidence.”
The game was scoreless through four innings, but the Blue Devils finally nicked up Steinberg in the fifth for two runs.
Greg Chmiel had a two-run triple to get Mora on the board.
The Blue Devils added one run in the sixth as Darin Erickson hit an RBI single.
The Miners got their lone run in the sixth as Sundquist singled and stole second. Following a strikeout, Lescarbeau singled Sundquist home, but he was left stranded on second as Graves got a strikeout and fly out.
Zack DeBoom would hit a lead-off single in the seventh, but that’s where he stayed as the game ended on a pop out to shortstop.
“Our offense tried to put runs on the board to simmer their momentum, and we were on pace to take the game again,” Steinberg said. “We were right on there, but we didn’t have much left in the tank.
“Give their pitcher credit. He threw quality pitches to our hitters. When guys were swinging, they had a tough time handling those pitches. When we didn’t swing, he was hitting his spots and getting calls. He’s the guy that helped win them the ball game.”
Lescarbeau finished with three hits, and DeBoom had two.
Erickson, Burgess and Chmiel had the Mora hits.
Hibbing will travel to Hinckley to play a doubleheader Wednesday, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
MBD 000 200 0 — 2 8 2
HM 000 210 x — 3 8 2
Mora: Asa Patterson (L) and Adam Burgess; Hibbing: Dan Wood (W) and Joe Lescarbeau, Mike Belich (5th).
HM 000 001 0 — 1 6 1
MBD 000 021 x — 3 3 0
Hibbing: Jamie Steinberg (L) and Lescarbeau; Mora: Derek Graves (W) and NNA; 2B — Burgess; 3B — Greg Chmiel.