The Hinckley Knights town ball team will wrap up the regular season Sunday, with a 2 p.m. game against the Mora Blue Devils. The matchup will have playoff seeding implications, as Hinckley, Mora and Quamba are all in contention to win the division. The Knights will play a warm-up exhibition game against the Jordan Brewers Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., at the “Mini Met” baseball field in Jordan.
Hinckley picked up three league wins last weekend, to put them near the top of the Eastern Minny League North division. The first came Friday night against the Nowthen Knights, 7-2. Hinckley got its first two runs in the second inning. Second baseman Cory Schmidt reached first on an error, stole second, moved up to third on a single by third baseman Isaiah Hasz, and came home on and RBI double from right fielder Brady Johnson. Hasz scored on a single by designated hitter Cade Thurner. The big inning for Hinckley came in the fourth, starting with singles from Brady Johnson and center fielder Dez LeTexier, who scored on a Trevor Johnson double. Trevor traded places with his brother TJ, who got an RBI double, and Cory Schmidt hit another RBI double to score TJ and make the score 6-0. With TJ starting on the mound, Nowthen did not put a ball in play until the third inning, as the first six batters went down on strikeouts. Brady replaced TJ in the sixth. Nowthen finally scored in the eighth. The first batter struck out, the second got a single, and when the third hit a ball to shallow center, TJ threw out the lead runner at second. A double put two runners on, and a single scored both runs, before Dez LeTexier made a difficult catch in right to end the inning at 6-2. Hinckley tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, when Isaiah Hasz walked, moved up to second on a grounder, and came in on a single from shortstop Jacob Grice. Josh Thom came in to pitch the ninth, giving up a double before shutting down Nowthen, to make the final 7-2.
Schmidt led the offense, going 3-4 with a double, two stolen bases and an RBI. Hasz and Brady Johnson each had 2 hits, with Johnson getting a stolen base and an RBI. Trevor Johnson, TJ Johnson, LeTexier, Thurner and Grice all had a hit in the team’s 12-hit effort. LeTexier and Thurner each stole a base. Trevor had 2 RBI, TJ, Thurner and Grice each had 1 RBI. TJ Johnson got the win, giving up 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 10 in five innings. Brady Johnson worked the next 3 innings, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits, walking 1 and striking out 4. Josh Thom pitched the final frame, surrendering a lone hit.
Hinckley won a doubleheader Saturday afternoon against the Hibbing Miners. Hibbing forfeited the first game, due to a lack of players. The second game got underway once their players arrived, and the teams agreed to play nine innings, rather than the scheduled seven. The Miners struck first in the bottom of the first inning, with a walk, a single and a sacrifice fly, and added a run in the third, with a hit batsman and a pair of singles, for a 2-0 lead. Hinckley’s big inning came in the top of the fifth. Shortstop Max Sickler singled to start things off. Designated hitter Cade Thurner reached first on an error, and center fielder TJ Johnson singled to load the bases. First baseman Shawn Ausmus drew a walk, and Sickler came home. Second baseman Cory Schmidt doubled to score Thurner and Johnson, and put Ausmus on third, which gave the Knights a 3-2 lead. Left fielder Dylan Libra reached first on an error, which re-loaded the bases. Pitcher Lucas Willis hit a short single to bring Ausmus home, and keep three runners on the bags. Then, on an 0-1 count, third baseman Isaiah Hasz drove a low pitch over the left field wall for a grand slam, to put Hinckley up 8-2. The Miners put together a strong effort to come back, adding two runs in the seventh, with hit batsman and a pair of doubles, to make it 8-4. A single, a walk and a double brought in a run in the eighth, and a solo home run in the ninth made it 8-6, before the Knights recorded the final out to end the game.
Johnson and Willis each had 2 hits, including a Willis double and an RBI. Johnson stole a base. Hasz had the grand slam and the requisite 4 RBI. Schmidt had a double and Sickler had a single, to add up to the team’s 7 hits. Willis got the complete game win, giving up 6 runs on 10 hits, walking 2 and striking out 3.
A planned game between the Knights and the Hayward Hawks from Wisconsin a week ago Wednesday was rained out, and another planned exhibition matchup between the same two teams this Wednesday was canceled.
Hinckley will host the Eastern Minny League North division playoffs, Saturday and Sunday, July 31 and August 1 at Brennan Field. The Region tournament will follow on the next two weekends, hosted this year by Princeton.
Follow the team online at HinckleyKnights.com, or on Facebook and Twitter @HinckleyKnights.