legion

Hibbing’s Noah Vinopal delivers a pitch during a recent Post 222 game. Hibbing hosts Grand Rapids, beginning at 6 p.m., today.

HIBBING — Last Thursday, the Hibbing American Legion baseball team lost 5-0 to Grand Rapids.

Post 222 gets a shot at redemption today when Post 60 travels to Hibbing for a 6 p.m., legion contest at Al Nyberg Field.

Hibbing manager Adam Schafer isn’t into morale victories, but his team played well against Grand Rapids for five of the seven innings.

“Overall, it wasn’t a bad game,” Schafer said. “It was one bad inning that cost us. It was 1-0 until the fifth. We had opportunities to score with no out and one out, but we couldn’t get guys in.

“It was nice to compete against a good team, but it was one inning that haunted us.”

In the first inning, Post 222 had the bases loaded with no out and didn’t score. Hibbing also had runners on second and third with one out, but once again, no one could drive home a run.

“When you have a guy on third with one out or less, a large percentage of the time they will score,” Schafer said. “Whether it’s on a passed ball or a double-play ball, they score. We had two strikeouts and a flyout.

“We didn’t put the ball in play those first couple of at bats. It’s frustrating because a ball in play likely scores a run.”

Hibbing did get a well-pitched game from Codieh Powers, and it’s going to take that same kind of effort in this game.

“The key is to get a good pitching performance by whoever it is,” Schafer said. “I don’t know who it’s going to be, but they need to throw strikes, and we have to make plays in the field. We’ve been a good offensive team this year.

“It’s getting back to clutching hitting and running the bases aggressively to get opportunities to not get shutout this time around. Outside of those two things, we didn’t threaten them too heavily. We got a guy to third only one other time in that game.”

This game is a counter for district points, so if Post 222 wants a top-four seed, they need a victory in the worst way.

“We’re sitting at 0-1, but we have three more district games to be played,” Schafer said. “With the success Rapids has had, to have this game at home works in our favor. We know we can play with them, but in terms of trying to get a top-four seed, this is the one we’ll try to get.

“Being 0-2 won’t leave us much wiggle room with only three games left against West Duluth, Hermantown and Cloquet. We’re not playing Nisswa or Thunder Bay.”

To beat Post 60, Hibbing must play solid ball both offensively and defensively.

“It’s putting balls in play and putting pressure on them,” Schafer said. “They made one error last week. It’s throwing strikes and putting the ball in play. As for Rapids, the top of its order is sound. They have good hitters.

“It’s throwing strikes. It’s the same recipe as last week, playing a complete game. We get last at bats, so you’re never quite out of it as long as you play sound on both sides of the ball.”

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