Blake Peterson wasn’t delighted with his first few at bats in Thursday’s Central Lakes Conference game against the Fergus Falls Otters.
He grounded out in his first plate appearance, and took a called third strike in his second before lining to center in his third.
The senior second baseman was locked in during the bottom of the seventh as he smacked a one-out, game-winning single to left-center to give Brainerd a 2-1 win. The hit scored Paxton Beadle, who reached on an error and moved to second on a walk before Peterson’s hit.
“Right away I was thinking fastball,” Peterson said of his winning at-bat. “(Otters reliever Brady Hansen) was throwing significantly slower than the first guy.
“I wasn’t real pleased with my first two at bats, then my third at bat I hit the ball pretty well. I went up there and just wanted to hit it pretty hard, just send it out there. It worked out I guess.”
Peterson hit just .212 in 66 at bats last season, but is 5 for 11 this season.
“Last year, I was not hitting very well at all,” he said. “This year, I came in with a new mindset. I worked on my mentality a little bit. I got a lot better in that sense.”
His hit backed the pitching of starter Luke Patron and reliever Luke Boran, who got the win. Patron went four innings, striking out five, walking four and allowing four hits. In three innings, Boran walked none and gave up two hits, with three strikeouts and an unearned run. He hit one and committed a balk.
“I thought our pitchers did well,” Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. “It was a matter of throwing strikes.”
Through 5 1/2 scoreless innings, the teams combined to strand 15 baserunners, 10 in scoring position. Patron pitched out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the third.
Brainerd finally ended the scoring drought in the bottom of the sixth when shortstop Dalton Tibbetts lined a sinking single off the glove of center fielder Abbot Aho. The hit scored Riley Kline, who reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced on an error.
The Otters tied it in the top of the seventh. With one out, Austin Hanson reached on an error, and Pete Gaustad singled him to second. Walker Heinen then singled to left and Hanson headed for home. Warriors left fielder Dustin Borlaug made a strong throw to the plate, but Hanson narrowly beat the tag by catcher Ben Stall.
Brainerd managed just five hits and no earned runs off Otters starter Zach Rengel and Hansen. The duo combined to strike out seven and walk just three.
“Their lefty (Rengel) was pretty good,” Scearcy said. “I think he’s the best pitcher we’ve seen so far. He was throwing hard enough, and he’s left-handed, so he’s got all those things going for him.
“Even though he was pitching from behind he still wasn’t walking people. He seemed to be able to come back when he had to. It was tough to get a bat on him.”
The win lifted Brainerd to 2-0 in the CLC, 3-1 overall, before venturing to St. Cloud Tech on Friday afternoon.
“Especially with all the young guys coming up, and only a couple returning starters, I’ve been impressed,” Peterson said of Brainerd’s start. “It’s been fun so far.”
Fergus Falls 000 000 1 — 1 6 2
Brainerd 000 001 1 — 2 5 1
One out when winning run scored
Fergus Falls: Zach Rengel, Brady Hansen (5) and Drew Reinertson.
Brainerd: Luke Patron, Luke Boran (5) and Ben Stall.
WP: Boran (1-0). LP: Hansen.
SB: Drew Sannes (B), Riley Kline (B)
Sac: Blake Thiesse (B),
RBIs: Dalton Tibbetts (B), Blake Peterson
LOB: Brd 8, FF 11