HIBBING — The Hibbing High School baseball team hasn’t had much to complain about during the 2017 season, as the Bluejackets are 11-4 on the season.
The only problem, if there is one, is the fact that all of those losses have been by three runs or less.
Hibbing hasn’t had the timely hitting to overcome those deficits.
Bluejacket manager Jay Wetzel is hoping that changes beginning today when Hibbing hosts the Michael Bugliosi Wood Bat Classic beginning at 1 p.m., at Al Nyberg Field.
In game one, Hibbing takes on Proctor, followed by Proctor and Cloquet at 3 p.m. At 5:30 p.m., Cloquet takes on Superior, then in the night cap at 8 p.m., the Bluejackets host Superior.
Hibbing is 3-3 in its last six games, falling 2-1 to Cloquet, 3-1 to Princeton and 4-3 to Duluth Denfeld in nine innings.
“In those games, we’ve pitched well and played solid defense,” Wetzel said. “We saw probably their No. 1 pitchers, so we saw some good pitching. We weren’t consistent enough to produce runs.
“We have to learn to have better at bats against better pitching. Like they say, against a good pitcher, you’ll probably see one good pitch you’ll be able to hit. The others will be pitchers pitches. We missed our opportunities when we had them It was the off-speed pitches that hurt us. We were out of rhythm and out in front.”
Other than that, it’s been a good season for Hibbing.
“We’ve had a nice season so far,” Wetzel said. “Within the games we’ve lost, there were some things we could have been better at, but we’ve been in every single game. We’ve had the opportunities to win those game.
“I can’t fault our competitiveness. We have to execute better against the better arms we’ve been seeing lately.”
Hibbing will get that chance against Proctor and Superior in the tourney, which is held in honor of Bugliosi, who was a former Bluejacket player.
“It’s a neat tournament in terms of Mike and the whole story about him,” Wetzel said. “We’re playing in his honor. The other factor is that we’re playing with wood bats, so that will require us to work on a few things you can’t get away with when you use aluminum bats.
“You have to sit back and drive the ball. If you have a poor swing, you just can’t flip the ball to the outfield. If you don’t put a good swing on it, you’ll either break the bat or pop up to the infield. We have to find our rhythm and timing.”
Wetzel also likes the fact that it’s three games in two days, which simulates the section tournament.
“We’re playing multiple games against good comptition,” he said. “That should help us going into playoffs. You have to go through different arms and different lineups. It’s three games stacked up on one another.
“We’ll have to battle through some soreness and tiredness. We have to stay focused through 21 innings.”
The main point of emphasis will be offensive consistency.
“We have to have good approaches at the plate,” Wetzel said. “It’s getting our rhythm and timing down. Some of our guys have been over anxious, and they’ve been lunging at the ball.
“They have to let it arrive and travel. This gives us a chance to get that rhythm and timing down heading into playoffs.”
On Saturday, weather permitting, Hibbng will play Greenway at 11 a.m., followed by Proctor and Superior at 1:30 p.m.
The Hibbing junior varsity team will be playing Cloquet at 3 p.m., today at Vic Power Field, followed by Cloquet and Superior at 4 p.m.
The junior varsity Bluejackets will also play Saturday, again weather permitting.