BRAHAM — The Hibbing amateur baseball team traveled south Saturday for a pair of games with Braham, the Miners came away with a doubleheader sweep, winning game on 11-1, then taking the nightcap by the score of 13-3.
It was two big wins for Hibbing in the Eastern Minny North Division.
“They’re the most important victories at this point and time in the division,” Hibbing manager Jamie Steinberg said. “When you start the playoffs, it’s important to have a good seed to get us going.
“That all starts with beating league opponents. We had two big games to see where we stand in the division.”
According to Steinberg, he didn’t know much about the Snappers, so he wasn’t sure what to expect out of Braham.
“We had never played them before or heard of them,” Steinberg said. “We scouted who they had played, so we were anticipating to be successful. After winning the way we did, it was evident that our expectations aligned with what we thought they were going to be.”
In game one, Josh Sprague was the winning pitcher, tossing five innings of six-hit ball. He struck out five and walked two.
“Josh is going to benefit and help our team with his arm,” Steinberg said. “He hasn’t had a lot of innings yet, but he’s had a lot of playing time from the mound and from a positional standpoint.
“He has a good two-seam fastball, and he’s effective on hitters. That showed in the game. He’s going to be someone we’ll depend upon as the season plays out. He has to be a go-to pitcher. He has to take a spot in the rotation, and get us as many innings as he can.”
The Miners went scoreless through the first two innings, then they exploded for eight runs in the third inning to take command of the game.
Sprague started the inning off with a single, and he was sacrificed to second. With two out, Dylan Mattson reached on a enrror, which allowed Sprague to score all of the way from first base.
Joe Lescarbeau singled, then Jamie Steinberg was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Zack DeBoom followed with a two-run single, then Jayson Hron singled home a run to make it 4-0.
Jeff Korpi singled, then Sprague
picked up an RBI when he reached on catcher’s interference. Chanler Dildan hit a two-run single to end the scoring.
“In that inning, the guys were getting the goose bumps out of their systems,” Steinberg said. “It was a different field and a different team. It was not knowing what to expect. We loosened up, getting base hits, hit batters and walks.
“Everything was clicking throughout the lineup. That’s what we can do under normal circumstances. That set the tone for the game and the rest of the day.”
The Snappers would score once in their half of the third as Brody Bakken hit an RBI single, but Hibbing would score three times in the fifth to make it 11-1.
Sprague doubled, then with one out, Dilday doubled him home. Mattson connected for a third-straight Miners’ double and an RBI, then Lescarbeau hit a run-scoring single.
Sprague preserved the 10-run lead by facing only four Braham hitters in the ninth. The game ended with a Snappers’ runner thrown out at the plate.
Jesse Johnson took the loss for Braham, tossing five innings, allowing 12 hits and striking out three.
Dilday finished with three hits and three RBI. Lescarbeau had two hits, as did Sprague.
In game two, was Steinberg worried about a letdown after scoring 11 runs in the opener? The answer was no.
“As a result of the first game, the guys developed the expectation to jump on them right away and try to end it in five rather than seven,” Steinberg said. “Everybody performed to that expectation.
“We wanted to play the minimum number of innings, get on the road and come back home.”
Dilday got the pitching win, hurling five innings. He gave up six hits, struck out five and walked two.
The Miners scored once in the first when DeBoom walked with the bases loaded. Both Mattson and Steinberg walked before him, and Lescarbeau had a single.
Hibbing got five runs in the second as Sprague singled, then with one out, Dilday singled and Mattson walked to load the bases. Lescarbeau singled home a run, then Steinberg walked.
DeBoom walked as well, and two runs scored on wild pitches. Sprague singled home the final run of the inning.
Braham would get three runs in its half of the third inning on RBI base hits by Bakken and Jacob Johnson, but the Miners got a single tally in the third as Mattson singled, took second on a passed ball and third on a wild pitch. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Lescarbeau.
At 7-2, the Snappers added a run in the fourth on a Corbin Peters RBI single, but Hibbing put the game away with a six-run fourth inning.
The rally started with two out as Dan Wood singled, and Dilday followed with a base hit. Mattson doubled home a run, then Lescarbeau singled home two more.
Steinberg hit a single, then DeBoom knocked in two with a double. Korpi added an RBI base hit to end the scoring.
Dilday then faced four hitters in Braham’s half of the fifth as the Miners won their second-straight 10-run game.
“Having Chanler on the mound, he’s a stronger pitcher so there was a higher standard of confidence and expectations in the second game,” Steinberg said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that we were going to 10-run them in the second game.”
Rolando Galvez started for the Snappers, working 1.2 innings of four-hit ball. He struck out four and walked seven. Colton Schusted hurled 2.1 innings of relief. He allowed 10 hits, struck out one and walked one.
“Their starter in game two would have been an effective pitcher if he wasn’t so wild,” Steinberg said. “There is a such thing as an effectively wild pitcher, but it was hit or miss for them sending him out there.
“On that day, they didn’t have a lot of guys when it came to pitching.”
Hibbing will hit the road to Chisago Lakes on Friday, taking on the Bulldogs in a 8 p.m. contest. On Saturday, the Miners will play at North Branch at 1 p.m., then they will hit the road to take on Princeton at 6 p.m.
Hibbing will wrap up the month of June on Sunday with a game against Ramsey at 3 p.m.
HM 008 03 — 11 12 0
BS 001 00 — 1 6 3
Hibbing: Josh Sprague (W) and Joe Lescarbeau; Braham: Jesse Johnson (L) and Brody Bakken; 2B — Sprague, Dylan Mattson, Chanler Dilday, Bakken.
BS 002 10 — 3 6 0
HM 151 6x — 13 14 0
Braham: Rolando Galvez (L), Colton Schusted (2nd) and Jeremiah Friday; Hibbing: Dilday (W) and Lescarbeau; 2B — Mattson, Zack DeBoom.