The Hinckley Knights town ball team’s 2021 season came to a close Sunday afternoon in Princeton, as the Knights fell to the Princeton Panthers 4-1 in the event’s last state-qualifying game. Isanti will be the region’s first seed at the state tournament, and Princeton the second seed.
After wins over Princeton and Mora the previous weekend, the Knights entered the semifinals Friday night against the top-seeded Isanti Redbirds, and were shut out 10-0. It was a tough outing offensively, as the Knights had four baserunners in the game, including Max Sickler, who reached on an error in the first, Trevor Johnson, who drew a walk in the fourth, Dylan Libra, who singled in the fifth, and Trevor again, who singled in the seventh. None reached second base, and Isanti’s ace pitcher Phil Bray had 11 strikeouts in the game. Isanti’s runs came in bunches, with four in the first, two in the third, one in the fourth and sixth, and two more in the seventh, to end the game on the ten-run rule. Trevor Johnson and Dylan Libra led the offense, with a hit apiece. Starting pitcher Cory Schmidt took the loss, giving up 4 earned runs on 7 hits with 3 errors behind him over three innings, walking 2 and striking out 4. Reliever Max Sickler, surrendering 2 runs on 1 hit, 6 walks and 3 strikeouts. Jacob Perrotti worked the final inning, giving up 1 run on 1 hit and walking 2.
With the loss to the tournament’s number one team on Friday, the Knights had one more chance to reach the state tournament, but the path went through the number two team Sunday, and Princeton came out with a 4-1 win. The Knights had singles in the first and second, and got the scoring started in the top of the fifth. Third baseman Isaiah Hasz singled. Right fielder Brady Johnson was given the signal to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but a wild throw by the Panthers’ third baseman allowed Hasz to come all the way around and score, and Brady made it to third, to put Hinckley up 1-0. The Panthers got the run back, taking advantage of an error, but the Knights responded with a double play to end the inning with the score at 1-1. There were some scoring opportunities along the way. Pitcher Lucas Willis was left on base after a sixth-inning double. Hinckley had runners on second and third in the seventh, thanks to a Brady Johnson single, an intentional walk to Trevor Johnson and a wild pitch, but got no further. And second baseman Cory Schmidt was stranded in the eighth after a leadoff single. Princeton took the lead in the bottom of the eighth, scoring three runs on back-to-back bases-loaded singles. The Knights did not score in the ninth, and the game ended 4-1. Cory Schmidt, Lucas Willis and Brady Johnson each had 2 hits of the team’s 8; Trevor Johnson and Isaiah Hasz each had a hit. Willis had a double. Brady had an RBI on his bunt. Lucas Willis took the loss, working seven and a third innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 7 hits, walking 4 and striking out 3. Brady Johnson pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief, striking out 1.
Hinckley finished the year with an overall record of 22-14 and was 11-6 in regular season league play. The team sent thanks to its fans, volunteers, sponsors and the community for their support throughout the season.
Follow the team online at HinckleyKnights.com or on Facebook and Twitter @HinckleyKnights.