GRAND RAPIDS — It just wasn’t the Hibbing Post No. 1221 baseball team’s day Tuesday in the semifinals of the District 8 Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Baseball Tournament at Legion Field in Grand Rapids.
Every baseball manager hopes to get good pitching coupled with solid defense which is the formula to success for baseball at all levels. Throw in the ability to score some runs and you have a team that is dangerous in a playoff format.
However, Hibbing couldn’t put anything together on Tuesday as a combination of less-than-spectacular pitching and defense plus an anemic offense spelled out a 12-0 five-inning loss for Hibbing which eliminated Post No. 1221 from the single-elimination tournament. Grand Rapids pitchers Kodi Miller and Chris Pederson combined to hurl a no-hitter against Hibbing on Tuesday.
“We just didn’t do anything well today,” said Hibbing manager Tim Zubich, who shares coaching duties with twin brother Chris. “If you do that against a good team you are going to get 10-runned and be done in five innings. I don’t think it was a lack of effort; we just didn’t play our best and we need to at this time of year. Good teams will make you pay and Grand Rapids did.”
Grand Rapids manager Greg Tulla said that at this point in the season, his whole emphasis for his team is to pitch well
and play good defense, and that is what the team produced on Tuesday. He said the team has experienced peaks and valleys this year, starting the season by winning the Cold Spring Tournament, but then playing less-than-stellar ball at times.
“Your hitting is not always going to be there day in and day out, and obviously today we got some big hits,” Tulla said. “But I emphasize the pitching and defensive part of the game and today that is definitely what we got. Today was one of those days where everything went our way and nothing went Hibbing’s way. We played two games against them this year and one was a two-run game and the other was a one-run game and this was one of those days where nothing went right for them.
“After winning the Cold Spring Tournament, we weren’t playing our game and we struggled a little bit. But the last seven or eight games we have gotten it back. These kids have put in the time and there are only 11 of them. It is a close-knit group and we are hoping for the best the next game.”
Grand Rapids scored the only runs it needed in the top of the first inning as the first four batters reached with Wyatt Holcomb hitting an RBI triple and Alex McBride adding a run-scoring single. But Hibbing pitcher Isaac Colbaugh was able to pitch out of further trouble as he limited the inning to just two runs.
Grand Rapids scored another run in the second inning when Pederson reached on an error and eventually scored on an RBI single by McBride. Two more runs were added in the third inning as Rapids increased its lead to 5-0. The runs came on a RBI single by Riley Eckenberg and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Miller.
Grand Rapids put the game away with seven runs in the top of the fourth inning as it used just four hits but five walks to put together the big inning. Miller and Wyatt Zuehlke both had two-run singles in the inning while Austin Moen and Eckenberg both had RBI singles and McBride drove in another when he was walked with the bases loaded.
Meanwhile, Hibbing had its problems with Grand Rapids pitcher Miller as he held Hibbing hitless for the first four innings, walking two, striking out six and hitting one batter. Pederson came in to pitch the final inning and retired the side in order, striking out one, to complete the no-hitter.
Coolbaugh took the loss for Hibbing. Payton Forer also saw duty on the mound.
Miller also helped himself at the plate as he had two hits and a sacrifice fly, scored two runs and drove in three more. Holcomb had the triple, scored two runs and drove in one while McBride finished with two hits, two walks, three RBIs and a run scored. Jack Peart and Pederson each scored two runs and Moen had two hits and a walk, scored a run and drove in one. Eckenberg had two hits, two RBIs and a run scored.
Zubich said that Grand Rapids did not hit the ball particularly well in the game, adding that seven of Rapids’ first nine hits were “bleeders.” He added that it really didn’t matter as Hibbing struggled at the plate.
“We didn’t put the ball in play so we didn’t get anywhere,” Zubich explained. “That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes; it’s unfortunate because we would have liked to play better at this time of year, We played a pretty good game yesterday and we liked our chances going in; we played them tight all year. It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.
“It was a learning year like most and we always try to get better and work on things and learn the game. For the most part we improved, we just need to do some work in the off season and try to get better. We need to improve the overall part whether it is pitching or hitting because those are the two big areas.
“We set the bar high because you have to make them reach it. We still have room to grow and improve but overall I think they learned some things and saw what level they need to play at against the competition.”
Gr. Rapids 212 70—12 11 0
Hibbing 000 00— 0 0 2
Grand Rapids: Kodi Miller (W), Chris Pederson (5th); Hibbing: Isaac Colbaugh (L), Payton Forer (4th) and Danny Rusten; 2B-Kodi Miller; 3B-Wyatt Holcomb.