Brainerd Warriors baseball players must be stuffing rabbit's feet in their back pockets.
For the third time this season Brainerd won at Adamson Field in its final at bat, rallying from a 3-2 deficit to beat the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles 4-3 in Central Lakes Conference action.
The Warriors manufactured the winning runs. A leadoff single by Kyle Crocker and a base hit by Rob Veith set the table before one of six Apollo errors moved both into scoring position.
Brainerd's Kyle Crocker pitched a complete game against the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles Thursday. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Eagles pitcher Mike Frericks struck out Nate Smolke and Reid Mimmack to bring up Joel Martin, who hit a bouncer off the plate. Frericks fielded it along the third base line but his errant throw glanced off the glove of first baseman Josh Althaus, scoring Crocker and Veith.
"It's good that the kids don't give up, that's the important thing," Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. "Frericks is the best pitcher we've seen so far, I don't think there's much doubt about that. It's always a battle when you get a guy that good.
"We played pretty good defense, and in the end that's what won us the game. Kyle stayed in there and battled hard, and we got two hits when we needed them in the last inning."
Warriors 4, Apollo 3
The key: Brainerd scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Conference: Brd 7-4, SCA 5-6
Overall: Brd 12-4, SCA 6-7
Next: Grand Rapids at Brainerd 5 p.m. Friday.
Scearcy considered having Mimmack put down a suicide squeeze bunt.
"I thought Reid would hit the ball somewhere," Scearcy said. "He's a good hitter. After we got our second hit in that inning you could see Frericks picked up about 4-5 mph. When he pitched to those last two hitters he was tough, as good as he had been all night. He was throwing hard, and had good stuff.
"I figured if Reid could get the bat on the ball with the infield pulled in we're going to win the game. When we got down to Joel I figured maybe we would get a bouncing ball up the middle or something and he did hit the ball. I would have rather won with a hit but we'll take it."
The final play overshadowed complete games by Frericks and Crocker.
Despite colliding with second baseman Rob Veith (left), Brainerd right fielder Thomas Fairbanks managed to catch the ball in the fifth inning against St. Cloud Apollo. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Frericks, a senior right-hander, struck out seven and walked one. He gave up six hits and one earned run.
Crocker raised his record to 6-1. He fanned four, walked just two and allowed six hits and two earned runs.
Apollo scored twice in the first, on a double play and error.
Smolke's liner off the glove of diving left fielder Nick Dockendorf scored a Brainerd run in the third.
Dylon Fuchs' run-scoring single in the fifth put the Eagles ahead 3-1 before Brainerd added an unearned run in the sixth to close within 3-2.
Brainerd won for the 12th time in 16 games despite leaving five runners in scoring position in the first six innings.
"It's great to win a game like that with two of our big hitters out with injuries," Scearcy said.
First baseman Cody Stange didn't play after suffering a dislocated shoulder against Moorhead last weekend. Center fielder Desmond Janousek pinch hit in the bottom of the sixth, but did not play defense.
"The doctor thinks he can start hitting next week but not playing in the field," Scearcy said of Stange.
"Desmond's just kind of day to day," Scearcy added. "He has a muscle pull. He's been taking therapy in his leg since football season. Evidently during the winter it didn't heal up the way it should have, and now it's kind of reoccurred.
"Desmond said he could hit. We figured if he gets a hit he can get to first base, but we didn't want him putting on a big burst of speed."
St. Cloud Apollo 200 101 0 - 3 6 6
Brainerd 001 001 2 - 4 6 2
Apollo: Mike Frericks and Chris Rocheleau. Brd: Kyle Crocker and Nate Smolke. WP: Crocker (6-1). LP: Frericks.
2B: Jordan Jaeger (SCA). SB: Steve Theis (SCA). S: Travis Whirley (B). RBIs: Dylon Fuchs (SCA), Smolke. DP: Brd 1. LOB: Brd 7, SCA 5.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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