When Brainerd Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy projected the Rocori Spartans as one of the top teams in the Central Lakes Conference and Section 8-3A, he wasn’t being facetious.
Spartans lefthander Luke Jokela spun a 2-hitter and Rocori knocked the ball around Adamson Field for an 8-0 victory Tuesday.
Rocori, which entered the game in second place in the CLC, received 12 hits from eight different players.
“They, along with Bemidji ... I guess I’d kind of like to go watch if they play each other,” Scearcy said. “They’re very similar in a lot of ways. They hit, they’ve got a lot of good veteran players on their team, they run the bases, they play good defense, the whole bit. It will take an awful good team to beat those guys.”
Center fielder Sam Moriarty led the Rocori hit parade with a 4 for 4 day at the plate, driving in four runs with a pair of 2-run doubles. Catcher Austin Athmann was 3 for 4 with a double.
“Sam’s had kind of a slow start to the season,” Rocori coach Jeff Illies said. “The last probably two games he’s really started getting the barrel on the ball, and I think today it showed. Hopefully, he’s breaking out. He came out attacking the ball. That’s what we’ve been preaching with him all year, stay aggressive, don’t get behind in the count and good things happen.
“Austin has been kind of our clutch guy all season long. I’m not sure what he’s hitting, but it’s close to .500. He’s definitely come through for us in big situations.”
Jokela came up big when necessary. He allowed eight baserunners but only one advanced beyond second.
He struck out five and was sneaky fast. The only hits he allowed were Dalton Tibbetts’ second-inning infield single in the hole and Riley Kline’s clean single to left-center in the fourth.
Brainerd’s only threat was in the fourth with one out. Losing pitcher Drew Sannes drew a walk, moved up on Kline’s single and took third on a wild pitch. But Jokela got Tibbetts to sky to center for the third out.
“He probably would be the first to admit he didn’t get ahead as much as he liked,” Illies said of Jokela, “but he was effectively wild. I don’t think, as far as we could tell, that he ever threw it right over the plate. He was doing a good job of hitting spots once he had to.
“He’s been good for us all year. The weird thing is we’ve got like five guys who’ve all been throwing great. He’s obviously one of our returning seniors from last year. He was one of our top pitchers last year. He’s definitely in the mix to be one of our top pitchers this year.”
The Spartans opened the scoring in the second on a bases-loaded walk.
They jumped to a 4-0 lead in the third on Reed Pfannenstein’s RBI single and Moriarty’s long 2-run double to left.
Rocori tacked on four runs in the seventh on Pfannenstein’s run-scoring single, Moriarty’s 2-run double that missed a home run by inches and Tanner Anderson’s RBI single.
Rocori 013 000 4 — 8 12 0
Brainerd 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
Rocori: Luke Jokela and Austin Athmann.
Brainerd: Drew Sannes, Luke Patron (4), Luke Boran (7) and Ben Stall.
WP: Jokela. LP: Sannes (2-3).
2B: Roc-Athmann, Sam Moriarty 2, Adam Dingmann
SB: Roc-Athmann, Reed Pfannenstein
Sac: Roc-Ben Phillips, Tanner Anderson
RBIs: Roc-Pfannenstein, Sean Terres, Moriarty 4, Nate Hinkemeyer, Anderson
DP: Brd 1, Roc 1
LOB: Brd 4, Roc 9