By Rocky Hulne (Contact) | Austin Daily Herald
Photo by Eric Johnson
Riverland's Mitch Jaeger pitches in relief in game one against Dakota County Technical College Friday afternoon at Riverland Community College.
A failed bunt attempt indirectly led to a Blue Devil win Friday as Riverland’s baseball team took one of two from Dakota County Friday at Seltz Field.
RCC dropped the opener 7-4, but won the second game 4-3.
Riverland trailed the nightcap 3-1 going into the bottom of the sixth and after Jeff Huth singled and Chris Lindemann walked, it was clear that Zach Vliestra was going to lay down a bunt. But after fouling off his first two attempts, Vliestra was forced to swing and the lefty knocked a base hit through the right side of the infield to score a run that triggered a three-run rally to give RCC the lead for good.
“I had to get a hit there. We needed it,” said Vliestra, who is from Rapid City. “I didn’t get the bunt down, but a hit came somehow and we won that game.”
After singling, Vliestra stole second and eventually scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.
When Vliestra got to third, his head coach quickly forgave him for not getting the bunt down.
“He came to third base and he said ‘I’m sorry about not getting that bunt.’ I said ‘that’s OK,’” RCC head coach Scott Koenigs said.
Vliestra is now 24-for-24 on steal attempts and he holds the Riverland school record for most steals.
“I’m stealing every time. The catcher’s arms I’ve seen of the teams we’ve played are not very good,” he said. “You can steal pretty easy and my confidence is high.”
The Blue Devils (17-6 overall, 1-1 MCCC) scored in the first inning when Brandon Huhn doubled in a run, but RCC left the bases loaded in the second inning when Kyle Starkey flew out to deep center. In all, the Blue Devils stranded seven in the first three innings.
“We swung the bat well, but we left too many guys on base,” Koenigs said. “Some of the outs were hard line drives that they just caught them. Some of our guys are fly ball hitters and they have that upper-cut swing. The wind was just blowing against us.”
Dakota County, which is ranked No. 1 in the state, took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth when Alex Mack went opposite field for a two-out, two-run single. The Blue Knights (16-10 overall) added another run in the top of the sixth when they scored on a wild pitch.
Brady Banse took home the win for Riverland, as he allowed just four hits and one earned run in seven innings.
“I just went out and pitched my game, let them put it in play and let the defense make plays,” Banse said.
In the first game, the Blue Devils took an early 4-1 lead when Brian Voigt led off the bottom of the third with a solo home run to right field and Andy Behnke followed that up with a two-run shot over the opposite field fence.
But after Riverland’s Mitch Jaeger beaned the lead-off hitter of the top of the fifth and the next Dakota County hitter reached on a throwing error by Derek Hahn, the next three Blue Knights got hits that led to four runs to make it a 5-4 deficit.
RCC had runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the sixth, but Chris Lindemann struck out and Vliestra popped out to center field.
“We should’ve had game one but some things didn’t go right,” Vliestra said.
The Blue Knights added to more in the top of the seventh to keep RCC out of reach.
Brandon Huhn started the game strong for Riverland as he struck out two in the opening frame. But after allowing a double and two walks in the second inning, a sore arm caught up to him and he gave way to Jaeger.
“He told me before the game that he knew his arm was sore and he didn’t know how long he could go,” Koenigs said.
The Blue Devils will play at Dakota County Saturday for a 1 p.m. doubleheader in Burnsville.
“It felt good to get a little revenge (in that second game),” Banse said. “Hopefully we ride that momentum and get two tomorrow.”
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
DC 0 1 0 0 4 0 2 7 6 1
RCC 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 4 6 3
RCC pitching: Mitch Jaeger (L), 4 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 6 R, 3 ER, 5 K; Brandon Huhn, 1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 2 K
RCC hitting: Zach Vliestra, 1-for-4, double, R; Brian Voigt, 1-for-3, HR, RBI, R; Kyle Starkey, 1-for-4; Brandon Huhn, 0-for-3, RBI, R, BB; Andy Behnke, 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBIs, R; Shane Lange, 2-for-2, BB; Derek Hahn, 0-for-1; Jeff Huth, 0-for-3, SB; Chris Lindemann, 0-for-3, SB
DC pitching: Jermaine Kruse (W), 7 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 ER, 4 K
DC hitting: Kevin Williams, 1-for-4; Ben Briesacher, 1-for-4, RBI; Dillon Powell, 2-for-3, double, RBI; Evan Lucius, 1-for-3, 3 RBIs; Marcus Fitzgerald, 1-for-3, double; Jared Nihart, 0-for-3; Briar Braulick, 0-for-2, RBI; Dan Nayola, 0-for-1, 2 BBs; Joe Lucas, 0-for-2
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
DC 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 3 5 1
RCC 1 0 0 0 0 3 X 4 7 3
RCC pitching: Brady Banse (W), 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 5 K
RCC hitting: Vliestra, 1-for-3, RBI, R, SB, BB; Voigt, 1-for-2, R, 2 BBs; Starkey, 1-for-4; Huhn, 3-for-4, RBI; Behke, 0-for-4; Hahn, 0-for-1, BB; Huth, 1-for-2, R; Lindemann, 0-for-2, BB, R; Lange, 0-for-2, BB
DC pitching: Luke Anderson, 5 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 1 ER, 4 K, 1 HBP; Andy Otto, 0 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 R, 1 ER; Lucas (L), 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 K
DC hitting: Alex Mack, 1-for-4, 2 RBIs; Briesacher, 0-for-3; Powell, 0-for-3; Lucius, 0-for-3; Fitzgerald, 2-for-3, triple; Williams, 0-for-2; Braulick, 1-for-3; Alex Limon, 0-for-2; Lucas, 0-for-2