With the sun beaming brightly, a brisk wind blowing out, the temperature peaking at 47 degrees, and a trace of snow inside the outfield fence, it was time for the high school baseball season to open Thursday.
The Brainerd Warriors and Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm thought it was so nice they decided to play extra innings. Brainerd rallied from a 2-0 deficit to edge the Storm 3-2 in the bottom of the 10th as Desmond Janousek ripped a single inside the left field line with runners at second and third.
In four earlier at bats Janousek was 0-for-4, including making the third out with the bases loaded in the second.
"I just didn't want to go 0-for-5," he said. "I think the real (story) of the game was Cody Stange. He drove in both of the runs we had before. That was huge. He brought us into extra innings."
Warriors 3, Sauk Rapids 2
The key: Desmond Janousek's single in the bottom of the 10th scored the winning run
Conference: Brd 1-0, SR 0-1
Overall: Brd 1-0, SR 0-1
Next: Brainerd at Willmar 5 p.m. Tuesday
Stange, the Warriors' first baseman, had an RBI single off the handle in the fifth that pulled Brainerd within 2-1. His infield single in the bottom of the seventh sent the contest into extra innings.
Brainerd outhit the Storm 9-5, but left the bases loaded three times, stranding 14 runners in all.
"Actually, it was only the second or third time we've even faced a guy throwing, rather than a machine, so I think that will come around," Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said of his team's hitting. "Our timing was a little off, and we had a little trouble judging the strike zone."
Warriors pitchers Dan Bendzick, Trevor Howard and Kyle Crocker didn't struggle to find the strike zone despite throwing off a dirt mound for one of the first times this season.
Bendzick started and went four innings, striking out five, walking three and allowing four hits and two earned runs.
Howard went the next five innings, fanning two and allowing one hit. He threw 55 pitches, 39 strikes. Crocker pitched a scoreless 10th and got the win.
"We had only planned on Trevor throwing about three innings," Scearcy said. "But he was getting through that not throwing many pitches, so we let him keep going. When he got through five we thought that was enough and Kyle came in and did a good job."
Sauk Rapids starter David Kroger and reliever Jason Hoppe limited Brainerd to two runs and seven hits through eight innings. Reliever Ryan Paasch escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth before surrendering the game-winner.
"I remember the first guy that pitched, he pitched as a freshman when we were sophomores," Janousek said. "Ever since then we've known who he is. He's a good pitcher. He throws hard."
The Storm scored the game's first run on Kroger's double that Howard dove for in right field and nearly caught.
They went ahead 2-0 in the third on Hoppe's RBI double.
Brainerd second baseman Rob Veith went 4-for-5 with three infield singles and scored two runs.
The game originally was scheduled at Sauk Rapids but was moved to Brainerd when the Storm's field wasn't playable.
"Our grounds crew did a great job because no matter what idiot idea I come up with they do their best," Scearcy said.
Sauk Rapids 011 000 000 0 - 2 5 0
Brainerd 000 010 100 1 - 3 9 1
SR: David Kroger, Jason Hoppe (5), Ryan Paasch (9) and Jarrod Mauren. Brd: Dan Bendzick, Trevor Howard (5), Kyle Crocker (10) and Craig McCluney. WP: Crocker (1-0). LP: Paasch.
2B: Andy Henkemeyer (SR), Hoppe, Kroger.
SB: Tyler Thelen (SR), Tyler Christen (SR), Rob Veith (B), Desmond Janousek (B).
S: Nate Smolke (B) 2.
RBIs: Hoppe, Kroger, Cody Stange (B) 2, Janousek.
DP: Brd 2.
LOB: Brd 14, SR 5.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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