When the Brainerd Warriors baseball team needs a game-winning hit it's confident Cliff Edberg will deliver.
The Warriors' senior designated hitter has tied or won three games with clutch hits. He delivered another game-winner in Friday's 2-1 victory over the Willmar Cardinals.
With one out and the score tied, hard-throwing Willmar reliever Zach Horning uncorked a wild pitch to put Warrior runners at second and third. On a 1-2 pitch Edberg drilled a double to right-center to end the game.
"I told Cliff if he gets a hit we'll put his picture on our book next year," Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said, "and he said, 'Certainly, I'm going to get a hit."
"I was just trying as hard as I could to put it in fair territory because either way, with a passed ball we could have scored, or if I would have hit a pop fly we could have tagged up," Edberg said.
Brainerd's 13th victory in 17 games eclipsed 5 1/3 perfect innings by Cardinals left-hander Darrin Ditterich. He retired the first 16 Warriors before walking catcher Kyle Holbrook.
"Tim Martin pitched a perfect game for us in 1983," Scearcy said. "I was thinking 21 years later there's going to be another one and we're going to be on the other end."
Ditterich did not go to a three-ball count until walking Holbrook. That was the only walk he issued. He struck out three and gave up three hits and two earned runs. Ditterich confused the Warriors with a looping curve and had adequate zip on his fastball.
"He was just trying to get us ahead, and on our front foot so we would put it on the ground," Edberg said of what made Ditterich difficult to hit. "We haven't faced many lefties. That might be it too."
Brainerd's Adian Kummet was equally as effective as Ditterich. Kummet went the distance, struck out six, walked one and gave up three hits and one earned run. After giving up the only Willmar run in the second inning, he retired 10 in a row.
Warriors 2, Willmar 1
Better late than never: Willmar's Darrin Ditterich pitched 5 1/3 perfect innings, but Brainerd won on Cliff Edberg's double in the bottom of the seventh.
Next: at St. Cloud Tech, 7 p.m. Tuesday
"Adian couldn't have pitched much better," Scearcy said. "We made a mistake early and threw that guy probably too many breaking balls in a row, but other than that Adian was just about perfect, as was their guy."
Other than the second inning Kummet virtually matched Ditterich out for out. After the third the Cardinals advanced one runner beyond second base.
Willmar scored its only run in the second as Seth Nelson singled, was bunted to second and scored on Matt Sagedahl's single.
After Holbrook walked, Brady Prince finally smacked Brainerd's first hit, a double into the left-field corner.
With one out and Prince at second and courtesy runner Nate Maaske at third, Willmar pulled its infield in. Anthony Hennen grounded sharply to second baseman Lane Kleist who saw that Maaske was about halfway home. Kleist trapped Maaske in a rundown, and threw to third base where Anthony Stern tagged Maaske out. Ditterich struck out Morgan Shepherd to end the threat.
In the bottom of the seventh, Brainerd finally tied it. Blake Eller led off with a single. Nate Weber bunted him to second and Mike Germain was hit by a pitch. Justin Huether whacked a slow curve into left field, scoring a sliding Eller.
Willmar 010 000 0 -- 1 3 0
Brainerd 000 000 2 -- 2 4 1
Willmar-Darrin Ditterich, Zach Horning (7) and Cory Schwantes. Brd-Adian Kummet and Kyle Holbrook. W-Kummet (4-1). L-Ditterich.
2B-B-Brady Prince, Cliff Edberg. Sac-W-Anthony Stern, Lane Kleist, B-Nate Weber. RBI-W-Matt Sagedahl, B-Justin Huether, Edberg. LOB-W-4, B-2.
Conference-W-4-7, B-8-3. Overall-W-7-7, B-13-4.
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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