MARBLE — The Hibbing American Legion team pitched alright and hit the ball even better, but defensively, Post 222 fell a little short.

Hibbing committed four errors, and misplayed a couple other fly balls, which led to big innings for Taconite.

In the end, Post 301 capitalized on those mistakes and came away with a 13-8 victory over Post 222 Friday during the Grand Rapids Tournament held at Steve Hecimovich Memorial Field.

In the end, Hibbing’s inability to make some routine plays cost it in the end.

“We need to make plays,” Hibbing manager Andy Kolden said. “We missed too many fly balls. Those are free outs. We hit fine. The pitching, honestly, was fine after the first inning or two.

“We threw strikes, but we couldn’t field the ball.”

Post 222 put a couple of runners on in the first inning, but couldn’t score, and that’s when Taconite took advantage of some wildness from Hibbing starting Brody Niskanen.

Post 301 took advantage of four walks and a two-run single by Ryan Olson to grab a 2-0 lead. Niskanen did well to keep it 2-0 as he left the bases stranded with a lineout and strikeout to end the inning.

Post 222 would get one run in the second as Dan Rusten singled, then with one out, Nic Cicchi walked. Isaac Colbaugh singled to load the bases, then Will Durie singled home a run.

Hibbing still had the bases loaded with one out, but Taconite starting pitcher Austin Storlie got a fly out and ground out to end the threat.

That’s when things fell apart for Post 222 in the field.

Post 301 hit the ball well, but three errors and some misjudged fly ball allowed Taconite to score five unearned runs to take a 7-1 lead.

The only RBI Post 301 picked up were on a groundout by Ty Donahue and a run-scoring double by Bailey Thorson.

“Right away, we were constantly trying to climb back into the game,” Kolden said. “We got it back to within one, then we made five errors in a row, honestly. We need to make plays to win.”

Hibbing pulled to within one in the fourth as it loaded the bases with no out. Taconite got a force out at home for the first out of the inning, but Codieh Powers singled home two runs, followed by a two-run single by Niskanen. Ryne Sampson hit an RBI single and it was 7-6.

“The top of our lineup picked us up,” Kolden said. “The middle of our order even. We were hitting, but our fielding killed us after we got back in it.”

Post 222’s defense fell apart for the second time of the game in the bottom of the fourth, committing one error, but again, misjudging several fly balls that fell in for hits.

Ryan Olson had an RBI single, MItchell Vekich a two-run double and Tom Cuellar an RBI base hit to make 13-6.

“I probably could have made a pitching change earlier, too, but…” Kolden said. “Noah pitched well when he came in.”

After the fourth, Vinopal kept Post 3-1 off the board, and allowed his team to get back into the game.

Hibbing couldn’t scored in the fifth and sixth innings, but in the seventh, Durie doubled with one out, then Vinopal singled him home. Joe Allison singled, then Powers singled to load the bases off of Taconite relief pitcher Dan McNamara.

Niskanen would reach on an error to drive home a run, but McNamara got the next hitter to ground into a double play to end the game.

“They didn’t give up,” Kolden said. “We were the Iron Nine today. That’s all we had today.”

Durie finished with three hits, including double; Powers had three hits and two RBI; and getting two hits each Vinopal and Rusten.

Cuellar, Olson and Thorson each had two hits for Post 301.

Niskanen tossed 3.2 innings of seven-hit ball. He struck out four and walked five. Vinopal hurled 2.1 innings, giving up two hits. He fanned two and walked one.

Storlie worked 3.1 innings, giving up eight hits. He struck out four and walked five. McNamara gave up six hits in 3.2 innings. He struck out one.

HL 010 500 2 — 8 14 4

TAC 250 600 x — 13 9 3

Hibbing: Brody Niskanen (L), Noah Vinopal (4th) and Dan Rusten; Taconite: Austin Storlie (W), Dan McNamara (4th) and Tom Cuellar; 2B — Will Durie, Mitchell Vekich, Bailey Thorson; 3B — Ty Donahue.


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