Blue Devils split a doubleheader
VERO BEACH, Fla. — A save from relief pitcher Brady Kingfus allowed the Riverland baseball team to split a doubleheader with Massasoit Community College of Massachusetts on Thursday.
After losing the opener of the twinbill by a 4-0 score, the Riverland Blue Devils nearly blew a big lead in the late game. Klingfus pitched two innings of relief and closed it out for a 7-6 win.
"It was a good pitcher's duel in the first game and we just couldn't come up with the clutch hit," Riverland coach Scott Koenigs said. "We got out to a 7-1 lead in the second game, but errors nearly gave it away. We almost blew the lead, but Brady got it done in the final few innings to hold on for the win."
Coming into the first game of the doubleheader, the Blue Devils had won four in a row. They had pitching wins from Joseph Wagner and Ben Schaben on Wednesday.
Wagner went the distance in a win over the Ontario Blue Jays. Schaben was the starter and got the win against Dakota College Bottineau, with Jamie Adams picking up the save.
"Although he was a little wild and gave up too many free passes, Wagner had a great breaking ball and that got him out of trouble," Koenigs said. "When he got ahead in the count it was all over for their hitters. He got out of a few jams with that nasty curve."
While the Blue Devils banged out a total of 18 hits in the two wins the previous day, they only mustered two in the loss to Massasoit. Matt Boswell and and Aaron Palmer collected the hits for the Blue Devils in their shutout loss.
"It was a 1-0 game in the bottom of the fifth, when they hit a three-run homer to break it open," the coach said. "Even with only two hits, we did get guys on base with four walks and a hit batter. We had some chances to score in the later innings, but didn't get it done against their top pitcher."
Scoring runs wasn't a problem in the early innings of the late game against Massasoit, the No. 9 ranked team in the country for NJCAA Division III. The Blue Devils scored four runs in the bottom of the first inning and led the whole way.
Palmer hit a two-run homer to highlight the rally in the bottom of the first. The Blue Devils added two more runs in the bottom of the second and another in the third inning to take a big lead.
Sixto Suarez made his first pitching start of the season and lasted into the fourth inning to get the win. Still, he would need some help from the bullpen to get the job done.
Allowing three walks during his mound tenure, Suarez set a bad precedent for the pitchers to follow. Riverland used four pitchers in the game and allowed a total of eight walks.
"Our pitchers need to challenge the hitters," Koenigs said. "We didn't give them much help in the field and the late game was a lot closer than it should've been. This was another lesson learned and fortunately, we pulled it out at the end."
Despite giving up a pair of walks and hitting another batter, Klingfus kept the damage on the scoreboard to a minimum. He came on in the top of the sixth after two runs had scored and halted the opposition's rally. Klingfus gave up an unearned run in the seventh, but finished it off.
Riverland (5-2) plays two more games today at the Dodgertown complex in Vero Beach. The opening game of the day is against Academie Baseball Canada with the first pitch scheduled for 4 p.m.
MASSASOIT 4, RIVERLAND 0
Riverland:Matt Boswell 1-for-3; Aaron Palmer 1-for-3; Donte Bledsoe 0-for-2, BB; Jason Kezman 0-for-2, HBP.
LP:Marcus Kiewel 6 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 6 K.
RIVERLAND 7, MASSASOIT 6
Riverland:Boswell 2-for-3, 2B, R, 2 RBI; Bledsoe 1-for-2, BB, R; Tyler Krekling 0-for-2, BB, R; Palmer 2-for-3, SB, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI; Kezman 0-for-1, 2 BB; Michael Knutson 0-for-2, R, RBI.
WP:Sixto Suarez 3 2/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 1 K. RP: Eric Sandstrom 1/3 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 H, 2 BB; Jon Mittag 1 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 1 K. SV:Brady Klingfus 2 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 H, 2 BB, 1 HB, 1 K.
RIVERLAND 6, ONTARIO 2
Riverland:Joel Hollow 1-for-2, 2B, RBI; Bledsoe 1-for-4, R; Victor Claudio 2-for-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI; Braden Hunkins 2-for-2, 2B, R, RBI; Chris May 0-for-1, BB; Kezman 1-for-3; Knutson 0-for-3, R; Boswell 1-for-3, R, RBI.
WP:Joseph Wagner 7 IP, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 H, 6 BB, 2 HB, 8 K.
RIVERLAND 6, DAKOTA COLLEGE 1
Riverland:Krekling 1-for-2, BB, HBP, 2 R, 2 RBI; Hollow 1-for-3, R; Donte Bledsoe 3-for-4, 2B, 2 SB, RBI; Knutson 2-for-4, R, RBI; Aaron Palmer 1-for-1, BB, HBP, HR, SB, 2 R, RBI; Hunkins 1-for-3, 2B; Kenny Stelter 1-for-4, 3B, RBI.
WP:Ben Schaben 5 1/3 IP, 1 R, 0ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 3 HB, 7 K. SV: Jamie Adams 1 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K.