On a chilly, damp night fitting for football, former Viking great Matt Blair greeted the crowd and threw out the first football. Three hours and fifty minutes later, David Valesente sent the crowd home happy in a thrilling 5-4 Brainerd Area Lunkers victory on Vikings Night.
Dennis O'Grady got the offense off to a good start for Brainerd as he led off with a hit. TJ Berge sacrificed O'Grady to second. A Michael Gedman double into the right-field corner scored O'Grady.
The Lunkers almost added another run in the inning but Gedman was thrown out attempting to score on a Shon Roe base hit and the Lunkers had to settle for a 1-0 lead.
Former Vikings Linebacker Matt Blair threw out the first pitch and signed autographs for fans such as Dawson Beck at Wednesday's Lunkers game. It was Vikings Night. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Brainerd added another run in the third inning with Berge getting a one-out base hit to shallow center field. Michael Kvasnicka then singled Berge to second base, and Gedman drove him in with his second hit and the Lunkers led 2-0.
Lunkers starting pitcher Matt Mullendore shut out the Bombers for the first three innings.
The wheels came off a bit in the top of the fourth inning as the Bombers scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead. The key hit in the inning was a one-out double by Doug Ott that scored Jimmy Tanner and Parker Berberet. Otto scored later in the inning to make the score 3-2.
With the rain falling and the night getting chillier, the hearty fans that stayed for the entire game saw exciting baseball in the late innings.
The Lunkers' Mike Frongello came in relief in the eighth inning and provided five strong innings. He escaped a jam and left a runner stranded at third to end the top of the ninth inning.
Lunkers 5, Battle Creek 4,
The key: David Valesente's two out hit in the twelfth brings in the winning run.
Second-half records: Brd 11-12, BC 11-13
Next: Battle Creek vs. Brainerd, Mills Field, 7:05 p.m. Thursday.
O'Grady was in charge of the heroics in the bottom of the ninth as he hit a two-out doble off fireballer Joe Van Meter. O'Grady then came into score on a bloop hit into center field by Michale Kvasnicka and the Lunkers had tied the game at 4-4.
Battle Creek took a 4-3 lead in the 11th. The Lunkers came right back in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Zach Stewart singled and moved to third on Will Piwnica-Worms' base hit. Stewart scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.
After holding the Bombers scoreless in the top of the 12th, the Lunkers' Hunter Nolen connected on a Matt Parish pitch and sent it to deep centerfield for a double. Brian Garman would come into pinch run and with two outs, Valesante delivered with a long single over the head of the Bombers' left fielder to give the Lunkers the win.
Battle Creek 000 300 000 01 4 11 1
Brainerd 101 000 001 01 5 14 2
Battle Creek: Eddie Sipple, Tim Mowry (8), Joe Van Meter (9), RJ Hively (11), Matt Parish (12) and Jimmy Tanner
Brainerd: Matt Mullendore, Luke Rasmussen (4), Mike Frongello (8), and Hunter Nolen
WP: Mike Frongello. LP: Matt Parish.
2B: Brd-Michael Gedman, Hunter Nolen. BC-Doug Otto, Chris Lewis
SB: Brd-Gedman, BC-Mike Murphy
RBIs: Brd-Gedman (2), TJ Berge, David Valesente. BC-Otto (2), Chris Bangi, Chris Lewis
DP: BC 1
LOB: Brd 8, BC 12
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