With six games in five days this week, the Brainerd Warriors baseball team needed complete games from its pitching staff Tuesday.
Mike Zauhar and Kevin Mertens responded as each went the distance in 7-3 and 3-0 Central Lakes Conference victories over the Little Falls Flyers at Adamson Field Tuesday.
Zauhar benefited from a 4-run sixth inning that snapped a 3-3 tie. Mertens tossed a 2-hitter as he outdueled the Flyers' Christian Larson.
"This is the fourth time Mike has pitched well this year," Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. "He has pitched well the last couple games. It was good to see him win. And, Kevin had a strong game in the second game."
Noah Czech and Larson also pitched complete games for Little Falls. Czech struck out four and walked two. Larson struck out six and walked two.
Brainerd snapped a 4-game losing streak, the first time it had lost four in a row since 1992. The Warriors are 5-4 in the conference and overall.
Brainerd 7, Little Falls 3
Drew Boland's 2-run double to right-center in the sixth put Brainerd ahead 5-3.
"I was looking for the first good pitch that I could drive," Boland said. "Actually, I ended up missing the first good pitch. The second one might have been a fastball out of the zone. The third one was right down the middle and I doubled it out there."
Joey Tautges followed with a 2-run homer to left for the final score.
Boland was 2-for-4 and also doubled in the third. Tautges drove in three runs and Chad Weiss was 3-for-4. Chris Klabo slammed a RBI double off the fence in right in the first inning.
"I don't think Joey or Mike Zauhar had a hit until late in the game," Scearcy said. "I thought we were hitting the ball pretty good without those two guys, which is what we need to do because they're going to hit.
"We still left a lot of runners on base (eight). We need to talk a lot more about the count, what we're looking for on different pitches, not getting behind in the count. I think we need to emphasize that a little bit more."
Zauhar became sharper as the game wore on. In the last three innings he gave up no runs, four hits, walked none and struck out two.
In all, he allowed nine hits, one earned run, struck out five and walked one. He got himself in trouble by throwing four wild pitches in the first four innings.
Zauhar threw 103 pitches, 68 for strikes. He threw the first pitch for a strike to 25 of 32 batters.
Mike Schwientek was 3-for-4 with a double and Czech was 2-for-3 with a sacrifice fly.
Brainerd 3, Little Falls 0
Matt Wenz had both hits off Mertens, singles in the second and fourth innings.
Mertens struck out nine and walked just two. But he threw three wild pitches and hit three batters. He stranded seven runners in scoring position and picked off two runners.
"It was not a good pitching performance, I don't think, but I still got the win," Mertens said. "That's all that matters."
He threw 92 pitches, 55 for strikes. He threw the first pitch for a strike to 16 of 28 batters.
Zauhar and Tautges both were 2-for-3 to lead Brainerd.
The Warriors scored in the first on a Larson throwing error and on a Larson wild pitch. Tautges ripped an RBI double in the third for the final score.
Little Falls 001 200 0 -- 3 9 2
Brainerd 111 004 x -- 7 10 3
LF -- Noah Czech and Mike Sobiech. Brainerd -- Mike Zauhar and Lance Herbst, Joey Tautges (5). W -- Zauhar (1-2). L -- Czech.
2B -- Mike Schwientek (LF), Matt Wenz (LF), Ryan Olson (LF), Drew Boland (B) 2, Chris Klabo (B), Chad Weiss (B). HR -- Tautges. SB -- Sobiech, J.P. Platisha (B), Ryan Browning (B). Sac -- Czech, Olson, Brian Sanoski (LF), Matt Aberle (B). RBI -- Czech, Olson, Sanoski, Boland 2, Tautges 3, Klabo, Browning. LOB -- LF 8, B 8. DP -- LF 1.
Little Falls 000 000 0 -- 0 2 1
Brainerd 201 000 x -- 3 7 2
LF -- Christian Larson and Sobiech. Brainerd -- Kevin Mertens and Tony Parrish. W -- Mertens (2-0). L -- Larson.
SB -- Sobiech, Wenz 2, Mike Weiss (B). RBI -- Tautges. LOB -- LF 8, B 6.
Conference -- LF 3-4, B 5-4. Overall -- LF 4-6, B 5-4. Next game -- Brainerd at St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m. Thursday.
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