HIBBING — After a rough weekend at the Grand Rapids American Legion Baseball Tournament, the last thing Hibbing wanted to do was fall behind against Proctor.
That’s exactly what Post 222 did, trailing 6-0 after 2 ½ innings.
Over the next five innings, Hibbing controlled play, scoring in third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to tie it 6-6.
Post 222 then had a chance to win it in the bottom of the seventh inning, and Joe Allison delivered a walk-off RBI single through a drawn in infield as Hibbing defeated Proctor 7-6 Tuesday at Al Nyberg Field.
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for Post 222, and this win over a good Proctor team should give Hibbing some confidence moving forward.
“They were hitting the ball,” Hibbing manager Andy Kolden said. “We weren’t really booting the ball. They were hitting gaps like no other. We woke our bats up, and had some timely hitting for the first time in five games.
“We’ve been coming from behind a lot, but we haven’t been out in front. Today, we did.”
Proctor would open the scoring in the top of the first inning as Ben Harnell doubled, then with two out, Cole Johnson singled him home.
In the second, Zach Gunderson was hit by a pitch. He stole second and third, then with two out again, Mason Flick clutched up and brought him home.
Proctor put its hitting shoes on in the third, starting with a double by Harnell. Chris Preston followed with an RBI double, then Johnson singled. Gunderson doubled deep into right-center field, which scored both Preston and Johnson, then Gunderson scored on a single by Sam Larson.
Just like that it was 6-0.
Post 222 needed to respond, and they did with a 2-spot in the third inning.
Brody Niskanen started it by reaching on an error, then Blace Tomberlin reached on an error. Noah Vinopal singled to the wall in right field, which scored Niskanen, then he went to second on another Proctor error.
Tomberlin scored on a wild pitch, but Proctor starting pitcher, Gunderson, worked out of the jam, only giving up those two runs.
“We needed that two, but we left a couple on base that inning,” Kolden said. “We needed that two to get us going a little bit, and Will (Durie) pitched well the rest of the game.”
That’s when the momentum of the game started to change.
Proctor went flat at the plate, while Hibbing picked up that spark to carry it through the next four innings.
“Once we scored, and Will was, honestly, lights out for us,” Kolden said. “He only walked one guy after that inning. He threw strikes for us and it was perfect. We rallied behind him.”
Post 222 inched a little closer in the fourth as Durie walked, took second on a passed ball, then scored when Dan Rusten’s ground ball was misplayed for an error.
Durie retired Proctor in order in the fifth, and Post 222 carried over some of the momentum they had gained in the fourth.
Tomberlin doubled to start the inning, then Vinopal laid down a bunt that traveled the length of the baseline for a single.
Eli Sundquist then hit an RBI fielder’s choice ground ball to make it 6-4. Hayden Westerberg walked, and bBoth he and Sundquist moved up on a passed ball. Durie helped out his own cause with a sacrifice fly to make it 6-5.
Hibbing kept up that steam in the sixth as Powers led off with an infield single. He was sacrificed to second by Rusten, then with two out, Tomberlin’s ground ball was misplayed for an error, allowing Powers to score all of the way from second base to tie the game 6-6.
“They booted some, too, but we capitalized on it,” Kolden said. “That’s good base running. We took some bases from them, so it worked out perfect for us to come from behind and win it.”
Durie used up his allotted number of pitches in the seventh, retiring the first two hitters he faced. He tossed 6.2 innings, allowing nine hits, striking out seven and walking two. Vinopal retired the only batter he faced, to set Post 222 up for the bottom of the seventh.
The important thing was that both Durie and Vinopal got Proctor’s second, third and fourth hitters out without them doing any damage. They were 5-for-12 with two runs batted in during the first six innings.
“Noah had some nice pitches there,” Kolden said. “The first two weren’t called, but he threw one that had weak contact on it to shortstop. Throwing strikes in the last inning worked out for us.
“Joe (Allison) also made a nice play in the gap. We needed that. We needed defense and hitting combined. That’s what did it for us.”
In the seventh, Sundquist led off with a double, then Westerberg singled him to third. Durie would walk to load the bases, bringing up Allison, who was 0-for-2 on the day with a walk. He picked a good time for his first hit.
Allison grounded the ball up the middle, scoring Sundquist with the winning run from third and bringing Post 222 back from that six-run hole.
“We needed that double right away,” Kolden said. “He ripped that ball. After that, the momentum was flying. Everyone was chattering. All we needed was one in the air. They were playing shallow.
“If they had to backtrack at all, Eli is fast enough to score on a fly ball. That hit felt great, finally. We needed it this time. We needed a pick-me-up, and we got one now. That’s was good.”
Vinopal finished with two hits, and Tomberlin, Sundquist, Westerberg, Allison and Powers each had one.
Vinopal got the win, facing just one batter.
Harnell, Johnson and Flick all had two hits for Proctor.
Gunderson tossed five innings, giving up three hits. He fanned five and walked three. Flick took the loss, hurling one inning, allowing four hits, and walking one.
PL 114 000 0 — 6 9 6
HL 002 121 1 — 7 7 0
Proctor: Zach Gunderson, Mason Flick (6th) (L) and Austin Parrott; Hibbing: Will Durie, Noah Vinopal (7th) (W) and Hayden Westerberg; 2B — Ben Harnell 2, Chris Preston, Gunderson, Blace Tomberlin, Eli Sundquist.