HIBBING — Through the first three innings, the Hibbing High School baseball team had five hits and two runs.
After that, the bats went cold and Superior took advantage of a seventh-inning error en route to a 3-2 victory over the Bluejackets at the Mike Bugliosi Wood Bat Classic Friday at Al Nyberg Field.
The loss ended a five-game winning streak for Hibbing, which will meet Duluth Denfeld at 11 a.m., today in Bennett Park.
“It’s a play we probably should have made,” Hibbing coach Jay Wetzel said.
The Bluejackets did make multiple plays during the game, then got two runs in the second as Logan Radovich doubled, took third on an error, then scored on a single by Travis Carruth.
Carruth would score on a single by Riley Versich.
“It looked good early,” Wetzel said. “We had gotten a couple of hits and scored two runs, then had the bases loaded. It looked, offensively, like we had something going a little bit.
“After the second inning, it seemed like we lost our focus a little bit or our intensity, but they shut us down offensively after the second inning. We managed one hit after the second inning.”
That hit came off the bat of Zach DeBoom, who singled in the third. After that, Hibbing only had two more base runners, Versich, who walked and reached on an error in the seventh.
“That’s the frustrating part,” Wetzel said. “Early it looked like we’d have more chances. We didn’t take advantage of them in the first two innings.
“As a result, you lose a one-run ball game.”
Unfortunately for the Bluejackets, the Spartans were able to counter with two runs of their own in the third.
Josh Tomczak doubled to start the inning, then was sacrificed to third. Austin Sears doubled him home, then Sears scored on a single by Justin Reinkall.
“They put some good swings on the ball that inning,” Wetzel said. “They earned them. They hit the ball well. Tip your cap to them.”
Hibbing starting pitcher Trevor Erickson was cruising right along after that, getting two straight one, two, three innings in the fifth and sixth, and leaving a Superior runner stranded on second with no out in the fourth.
He wasn’t so fortunate in the seventh inning.
He struck out Matt Strum, but he reached on a wild pitch, which set the wheels in motion for the go-ahead run to score.
Strum took second on wild pitch, then was sacrificed to third.
Erickson got Tomczak to ground out, keeping Strum on third, then Connor Fonger hit a ground ball to short. The throw was high, but first baseman DeBoom came down with the throw and seemed to tag out Fonger for the third out of the inning.
Neither umpire saw the play clearly, but after a short duscussion, Fonger was ruled safe, allowing Strum to score what proved to be the game-winning run.
“It’s tough to lose a ball game when the winning run scores on no hits,” Wetzel said. “They scratched out a run. Overall, we played a really good ball game. We had a bad hop on strike three to start the seventh inning off.
“We had a chance to get out of the inning without a run. It wasn’t meant to be today.”
Erickson finished with a five-hitter over 5 2-3 innings of work. He struck out four and walked two. Anthony Kanipes tossed 1/3 of an inning, striking out one.
“We knew a solid Superior team was coming in to play us,” Wetzel said. “Traditionally, they play good defense, they pitch and they hit well. Their record isn’t all that great right now, but they’re always playing in tight games.
“We knew we had to take care of business on our end. Today, we played well, but not well enough to win.”
Keith Montgomery started for Superior, tossing 3 2/3 innings of five-hit ball. He fanned three and walked three. Hunter Hockenbrock came on in relief and pitched 3 1/3 innings of no-hit ball. He struck out one and walked one.
Versich, Anthony Kanipes, DeBoom, Radovich and Carruth had the Bluejacket hits.
SHS 002 000 1 — 3 6 2
HHS 020 000 0 — 2 5 1
Superior: Keith Montgomery, Hunter Hockenbrock (4th) (W) and Bryce Connolly; Hibbing: Trevor Erickson (L), Anthony Kanipes (7th) and Jaiman Lamphere; 2B — Austin Sears, Josh Tomczak, Logan Radovich.
Gary Giombetti can be reached at email@example.com.