Masterful pitching. Decent defense. Clutch hitting. The top two teams in the Central Lakes Conference.
All the ingredients were present Monday for a classic high school baseball game between the Brainerd Warriors and St. Cloud Tech Tigers.
Entering the bottom of the sixth the Warriors trailed 1-0.
With Tech right-hander Chris Koenig pitching a shutout, and Brainerd's Adian Kummet virtually matching him pitch for pitch, Zach Heidmann dug into the batters' box with two out and two Warriors in scoring position.
Zach Heidmann provided the winning hit.
The junior left-handed batter worked the count to 2-1 before lining a two-run double into the left-field corner, sparking Brainerd to a 3-1 victory Monday at Adamson Field.
"I was looking for an outside fastball," Heidmann said. "He had been pitching me outside the whole game, so I just went with it, poked it over the third baseman's head, and got two guys to score."
The RBIs gave Heidmann seven for the season and a team-high four doubles.
"Zach has hit well all year long," Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. "He has earned the right to play a lot. He played a little bit early, then we tried some other guys. Zach has been consistently a good hitter and a pretty good defensive player."
The victory lifted Brainerd to a one-half game edge over the Tigers for first place in conference play. The Warriors are 8-1, Tech is 8-2.
"It was a really good high school baseball game," Scearcy said, "and it should have been. We came into this knowing Tech was very good. They had one (conference) loss, just like us. Their best pitcher was rested and ready to go, we had Adian rested and ready to go, and, that's the way it should be.
"We wouldn't have wanted to play this game with one team using their best pitcher and one team using their third or fourth pitcher. It just wouldn't be right."
Warriors 3, Tech 1
The key: Zach Heidmann delivered a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth and Adian Kummet pitched a five-hit complete game.
Conference: SCT 8-2, Brd 8-1.
Overall: SCT 11-3, Brd 11-1.
Next game: Sauk Rapids at Brainerd 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Matt Siegel followed Heidmann's hit with an RBI single to left, scoring Heidmann with an insurance run.
For five-plus innings a Brainerd victory didn't seem possible. Koenig was consistently hitting the strike zone, mixing his fastball and offspeed pitches. Tech catcher Matt Merten was flashing his target on the outside corner against virtually every Warrior, and Koenig was effortlessly painting the black edge of the plate.
Until the sixth Brainerd had only one hit, Tony Hennen's single to center in the third. Koenig finished with a four-hitter, with four strikeouts and one walk. He overcame three hit batters and balked runners into scoring position in the sixth.
Kummet was equally as masterful. He gave up only five hits, including Merten's solo home run to straightaway center that traveled about 400 feet in the first. Kummet finished with seven strikeouts and three walks.
In the Tech seventh, Kummet walked the leadoff batter and gave up a single to Ryan Young. Following a sacrifice bunt that moved runners into scoring position, Kummet struck out Merten and Sean Smuda to end the contest.
"Adian was real gritty," Scearcy said. "They had men on base a couple times and he pitched his way out of it. He showed a lot of heart to pitch out of it."
Kummet threw 112 pitches, 68 strikes. He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of 31 batters and stranded five runners in scoring position.
"Adian was higher in the pitch count than we would have liked," Scearcy said. "He was kind of on a one-man basis in the last inning. We thought if this guy gets on we better go get him but when he struck out their No. 3 hitter (Merten in the seventh), that was probably the key to the game because that kid is an awful good hitter."
St. Cloud Tech 100 000 0 -- 1 5 0
Brainerd 000 003 x -- 3 4 3
SCT-Chris Koenig and Matt Merten. Brd-Adian Kummet, and Kyle Holbrook. W-Kummet (5-0). L-Koenig.
2B-SCT, Paul Denne; Brd, Zach Heidmann. HR-SCT, Merten. Sac-SCT, Sam Iten, Broc Gross. RBI-SCT, Merten; Brd, Heidmann 2, Matt Siegel. LOB-SCT 8, Brd 5. DP-Brd 1.
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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