Drew Boland entered the Brainerd Invitational baseball tournament hitting just .267.
Following Saturday's performance, one would never have imagined the senior first baseman was struggling.
In 9-8 and 10-0 victories over the Rosemount Irish and Fergus Falls Otters, Boland raised his average 118 points, going 7-for-9 with two home runs and seven RBI as the unbeaten and second-ranked Warriors improved to 15-0.
"I don't know what day it was, it might have been (May 5), when we went through hitting fundamentals as a team," Boland said. "I think my swing was long. I was swinging a little bit too hard, maybe. I was probably searching for that first varsity home run too much.
"I shortened my swing up, shortened my stride, and I think I'm concentrating a lot more on the ball. I don't think I was concentrating before. Hopefully, I will keep hitting good."
Boland wasn't the only Warrior making contact Saturday. Center fielder Blake Eller went 5-for-8 and second baseman Andy Pickar and right fielder Fred Weiss were both 3-for-5. Chad Weiss hit a two-run homer against Rosemount.
Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy thought the team may have been inspired by an injury to first baseman Chris Klabo, who was injured when a runner dove into his knee on a pickoff attempt Friday. Klabo did not play either game Saturday.
"A whole bunch of guys just picked it up a notch," said Scearcy, who is two victories shy of 500 in his career.
Right-hander Kevin Mertens gave the Warriors another solid start, lifting his record to 6-0 with a three-hit, six-inning win against formidable Fergus Falls. He struck out six and walked two.
Three Otters advanced to second base, only one to third. Mertens retired the last nine Otters in order and threw 71 pitches, 43 for strikes.
Brainerd 9, Rosemount 8
Fergus Falls 15, Patrick Henry 0
Rosemount 14, Patrick Henry 4
Brainerd 10, Fergus Falls 0 (6 innings)
Brainerd 13, Patrick Henry 3
Rosemount 6, Fergus Falls 4
"Kevin was pitching with a little shorter rest and I think it might have helped him," Scearcy said, "because he had his breaking ball right from the start. Sometimes, when he's got too much rest, he's a little bit too strong, he's wild with the fastball and struggles with the breaking ball early in the game. He seemed to have it right from the start (Saturday). He was extremely sharp."
Boland was sharp at bat, going 3-for-4 against the Otters and 4-for-5 against Rosemount with two doubles.
He hit a grand slam in the Warriors' six-run second against Fergus and a two-run bomb in the fourth against Rosemount.
"I did lunge," Boland said of his grand slam. "I got extended and maybe that helped. He threw me two curveballs earlier that were probably on the outside corner, maybe a little out. I thought they were balls but the umpire called them strikes. I wasn't real happy about that. I didn't get a real good swing but I think the wind was blowing out. That helped."
Against Rosemount, the Warriors led 7-1 and 8-4 before the Irish tied it with four runs in the top of the seventh.
Brainerd won it in the bottom of the seventh on a RBI double by Boland.
The victories Saturday capped a grueling 12-day stretch in which the Warriors have played 10 games.
It won't get any easier as they play four more games this week.
"Winning 10 games the last two weeks is unexpected from my point of view because even if you're playing well your pitching is tested so much," Scearcy said. "Winning 10 games against some pretty good teams is tough.
"We played two very good teams (Saturday). I know the score was lopsided the second game. The fact Fergus maybe had a real easy game and we had a tough game earlier (Saturday) was to our advantage, plus we're playing at home.
"I know Fergus is a way better team than the score indicates. I'm sure they're going to come back and prove that, but right now our kids are playing very well. If we just keep playing at this level the rest of the year we will be in good shape."
Rosemount 010 003 4 -- 8 10 3
Brainerd 010 241 1 -- 9 13 2
Rosemount -- Kyle Schmode, Charlie Dale (6) and Tony Dress. Brd -- Aaron Jenkins, Blake Eller (6) and Morgan Shepherd. W -- Eller (2-0). L -- Dale.
2B -- Chris Buss (R), Boland 2, Pickar. HR -- Tim Radmacher (R), Chad Weiss, Boland. SB -- Pickar, Mertens. Sac -- Fred Weiss, Mertens. RBI -- Logan Pinckney (R), Dress, Justin Korthauer (R), Radmacher 3, Chad Weiss 2, Boland 3, Jason Sather (B), Fred Weiss 2. LOB -- R 7, B 10.
Fergus Falls 000 000 -- 0 3 1
Brainerd 060 301 -- 10 14 1
FF -- Tyler Gagner and Jared Bangs. Brd -- Kevin Mertens and Shepherd. W -- Mertens (6-0). L -- Gagner.
2B -- Jenkins, Pickar. HR -- Boland. Sac -- Matt Brekke (FF). RBI -- Chad Weiss, Boland 4, Eller 2, Tony Parrish (B) 2, Fred Weiss. LOB -- FF 4, B 7. DP -- FF 1.
Overall -- B 15-0. Next game -- Willmar at Brainerd 5 p.m. today.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.