The Hinckley Knights will wrap up a coronavirus-shortened regular season on the road this weekend, with games in Quamba Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Mora Sunday afternoon at 2:00 p.m., in preparation for the Region 1C tournament, which begins August 1 at Brennan Field in Hinckley.
The Knights went 1-3 this past week, with losses to division rival Mora, the defending state champions from Jordan and Rum River, and a win over Quamba.
Last Wednesday, in a see-saw battle that saw some good pitching from both teams, Mora defeated Hinckley 7-5 in 16 innings at Brennan Field Wednesday night. The Knights got the scoring started in the fifth inning when left fielder Lucas Willis doubled to drive in shortstop Jacob Perrotti, and first baseman Shawn Ausmus doubled to score Willis and TJ Johnson to put Hinckley up 3-0. Mora got two back in the sixth, but Hinckley went back ahead in the eighth on a pair of hits from Ausmus and catcher Trevor Johnson and a pair of walks. The Blue Devils regained the lead 5-4 in the top of the ninth when their leadoff batter reached on an error and the next batter tripled, and came home on a throwing error. Then the Knights tied it in the bottom of the ninth with a Perrotti single and three walks. The Blue Devils only had five base runners through the first five extra innings, while the Knights had just two. Mora took the lead for good in the top of the sixteenth inning when a leadoff single was followed by a two-run home run. The Knights did not score, and it ended 7-5. Perrotti led the offense, going 4-8 with two stolen bases. Ausmus went 3-6 including a 2 RBI double, before aggravating a ham string while sprinting to first in the fourteenth inning. Trevor Johnson was 2-6 with an RBI, and Lucas Willis had an RBI double. Starting pitcher TJ Johnson went eight innings, scattering 7 hits and 6 walks while striking out 8. Travis Visser took the loss, working eight innings of relief with 7 hits, 1 walk and 8 strikeouts.
The Knights lost to last year’s Class C state champions, the Jordan Brewers, in a Friday night game at Brennan Field that remained close until the final inning, thanks to a strong pitching performance by starter Lucas Willis. The Brewers had only one base runner through the first four innings, before a double and a pair of singles in the top of the fifth generated their first run. Willis held off a sixth inning threat and faced the minimum in the seventh and eighth, keeping the narrow 1-0 deficit intact. But in the top of the ninth, the Brewers started to get the bat on the ball, turning five hits and a fielder’s choice into three more runs before the Knights could force a third out. Hinckley did not go quietly, and got a run in the bottom of the ninth when right fielder Dylan Libra walked and Willis hit a sharp double to the gap to push Libra across the plate at start a rally. But it was short-lived, as the hometown nine ran out of outs, making the final score 4-1. Willis led the team on offense, going 2-4 including his RBI double and a stolen base. Shortstop Jacob Perrotti, left fielder TJ Johnson and Libra each had a hit. Defensively, the team made no errors in the field, and had some impressive running and diving catches. Willis took the loss, striking out six, walking nobody. Of his 130 pitches, 96 were strikes.
The Rum River Bandits from the Eastern Minny Central came up to Brennan Field on Saturday night, beating the Knights 9-5. The Bandits scored first, using a string of singles in the third inning to go up 1-0. They had their big inning in the sixth, putting up five more runs on a combination of hits, walks and errant throws. After a brief rain delay, the Knights got going in the bottom of the sixth with a double by first baseman Trevor Johnson and three straight RBI hits: A single by right fielder Dylan Libra, a double from left fielder Lucas Willis and a single by pitcher Brady Johnson, reducing the gap to 6-3. Rum River got one of those runs back in the seventh and the other two in the eighth, bringing the score to 9-3. The Knights tried to mount a comeback in the eighth, picking up a run, and added a final run in the bottom of the ninth, leveraging a pair of walks, a stolen base and an RBI single by center fielder TJ Johnson, making the final score 9-5, up against a veteran Rum River squad. Willis again led the offense, going 2-4, including an RBI double. Trevor Johnson, TJ Johnson, Brady Johnson, Libra, and second baseman Cade Thurner each had a hit. TJ, Brady and Libra each had an RBI in the game. Defensively, the infield turned a sharp double play in the ninth. Starting pitcher Josh Thom went three and two thirds, giving up a run and six hits with three strikeouts. Brady Johnson walked eight but struck out six in three and two thirds and took the loss, and Jacob Perrotti worked the final inning and a third, giving up a lone hit in relief.
Saturday was a special night as veteran pitcher Josh Thom made his final start as a Knight, and longtime catcher Josh Norby made a surprise appearance to work behind the plate for his final start, to catch for Thom. Both players retired as they came out of the game in the fourth inning. Mac Storlie also caught an inning with Thom on the mound. Josh Thom remains with the team as a coach and Josh Norby remains on the team’s board of directors, so both will continue their service to baseball in Hinckley. Congratulations to Josh and Josh for all they’ve done on and off the field.
On Sunday, the Quamba Cubs came to Hinckley for an afternoon game. Hinckley got a 3-0 win over the Quamba Cubs. In the sixth, pitcher TJ Johnson singled and left fielder Dylan Libra put a two-run home run over the fence in left center field. Later in the inning, catcher Trevor Johnson walked with one out. His brother, first baseman Brady Johnson, hit a single and Trevor made it to third base on an overthrow by the outfielder. Second baseman Adam Bridenstine then laid down a sacrifice bunt to drive Trevor in, making the score 3-0. In their only scoring threat, Quamba had a runner on third in the eighth with two outs. When a pitch got away, the runner on third broke for home. Trevor Johnson threw from the backstop to TJ at the plate, who applied the tag for the third out of the inning. TJ Johnson led the Knights on offense, going 3-4. Trevor Johnson, third baseman Cole Steffen, right fielder Travis Visser and Libra each had a hit. Libra had 2 RBI, and Bridenstine had 1. TJ Johnson went all 9 innings to get the shutout, giving up just 4 hits and 3 walks, striking out 15.
The Knights were scheduled to host the Chisago Lakes Bulldogs on Wednesday night, with a score unavailable at press time. We’ll have an update in next week’s Hinckley News. Follow their team on their website HinckleyKnights.com, or on Facebook and Twitter @HinckleyKnights.