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Two straight wins for Blue Devils

Post-Bulletin, Austin MN

COCOA BEACH, Fla. — The Riverland Blue Devils baseball team played Massasoit Community College of Massachusetts on the second day of its spring training trip to Florida and improved to 2-0 on the season.

Massasoit came into the game on Monday afternoon ranked as the No. 7 team in the country for NJCAA, Division III. In the end, it was the Blue Devils who deserved the accolades after an 11-4 win.

The Blue Devils won their second straight game courtesy of a potent offensive attack, which included a big uprising in the top of the seventh inning.

Nursing a 6-4 lead, the Blue Devils hitters exploded for five runs in their last at-bat to seal the lopsided win in the Florida sunshine.

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"We’re playing pretty decent baseball and happy to beat Massasoit with the late rally," Riverland coach Scott Koenigs said. "We beat a good team and played well defensively. The guys stroked the ball hard and had some clutch hits, especially in that seventh-inning rally. We’re going to score a lot of runs this season."

Scoring two runs in the top of the first inning, the Blue Devils took the lead for good. They led 6-1 after five innings, but then Massasoit rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth to make things a bit closer.

Throughout the line-up, the Blue Devils did a good job of hitting the ball. Chris Lindemann, batting in the leadoff spot, scored three runs on the day.

Andy VanRemortel was in the second spot and he also scored three runs. Kyle Starkey added a pair of hits in the third spot and cleanup hitter Pat Wolard drove in two runs. There were even more highights from further down in the order.

Brandon Huhn, the winning pitcher in Sunday’s season opener, used his bat this time to help the Blue Devils stay undefeated. Huhn pounded out three hits, including a double and a home run, to the lead the offense with a trio of RBIs. Austin High alumnus Josh Dunfee added to the Riverland hit parade as he also drove in a run.

All of this offense made a winner out of Riverland pitcher Brady Banse, who threw a complete game. Banse went seven innings and struck out six batters en route to his first mound win of the season. The freshman starters have been impressive in the Blue Devils two wins to open the season.

"Brady pitched very well and was in control most of the way," Koenigs said. "They had one big inning, but he hung in there and got out of trouble. Our freshmen have pitched well so far, and we’ll start two more (today). The competition will keep getting tougher, so we’ll see what they’ve got for us on the hill."

In marked contrast to the solid mound effort from Banse, the Riverland batters beat up on Massasoit starting pitcher Jason Cregan. The opposition’s starter lasted through six innings, but he didn’t make it out of the seventh as the Blue Devils broke the game open.

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Lindemann tripled in the seventh and that blast drove Cregan from the mound. The Massasoit starter allowed seven runs in the loss and he didn’t get much help in relief. The next guy out of the bullpen for Massasoit issued four walks, and this fueled the decisive Riverland rally.

Riverland (2-0) plays a pair of NJCAA Divison II teams today in Florida.

Lange, a freshman left-hander from St. Charles, got the pitching start against Illinois Valley and that game started at 1 p.m. Michael Tweedy, a freshman from Algona, Iowa, is the scheduled starter for Riverland in the late affair against Alfred State. The first pitch of the late game is scheduled for 4 p.m.

RIVERLAND 11, MASSASOIT 4

Riverland 200 220 5 — 11 11 2

Massasoit 001 003 0 — 4 7 0

Riverland: Chris Lindemann 1-2, 3B, 3 runs, RBI; Andy VanRemortel 2-3, 3 runs, RBI; Kyle Starkey 2-3; Pat Wolard 1-3, 2 RBI; Shane Lange 2-3, RBI; Brandon Huhn 3-4, 2B, HR, run, 3 RBI; Andy Behnke 1-3, RBI; Josh Dunfee 1-3, RBI. WP: Brady Banse, 7 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 6 K, 2 BB, 1 HB.

Massasoit CC: Murphy 3-4; Alexander 1-3; Loury 1-4, RBI; Foster 1-3, 2 RBI; Chaud 1-2, RBI. LP: Jason Cregan, 6 IP, 7 R, 10 H, 3 K, 2 BB, 3 WP.

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