Pioneers power past Warriors

Sibley, atop the Classic Suburban Conference (CSC) baseball standings, ventured to Hill-Murray May 22 for a makeup baseball contest.

The Warriors found the Pioneers waiting in ambush. A six-run fourth inning, highlighted by a two-run home run off the bat of Cory Sheets, knotted the score at three. From there the Pioneers went on to post a 9-4 victory as play heads into post season playoffs.

"It was important for us to win this game. This should move us into pretty good stead in the second seedings," stated Hill-Murray head coach Bill Lechner. "After we got by that second inning, we settled down and played pretty good defensive baseball. We made the plays and hit the ball when we needed to. It was nice to see Cory (Sheets) step up for us. He has been working hard and it is paying off."

Sheets stepped to the plate in the fourth inning with one out and one on. He picked a pitch to his liking and sailed it 356 feet over the left center field fence. His shot knotted the count at three. Hill-Murray went on from there to score four more times and put the contest on ice.

In their fourth game in as many days, Sibley coach Greg Fehrman said, "Maybe we’re a bit tired. Right now we are in a bit of a funk that we have to get out of. We just have to work out of it. But Hill-Murray is a good team and they took advantage of the breaks we gave them. Our kid (Sibley pitcher Ryan Pribble) threw well enough. We just got rattled and threw the ball around."

The loss dropped Sibley to a conference record of 13-3, just one game up on the St. Thomas Cadets.

On the mound and picking up the win for Hill-Murray was Brendan Johnsen. The junior hurler allowed four runs on eight hits, struckout three and walked none in the six innings he was on the mound. The Pioneers moved their record to 11-5.

The Warriors opened the scoring in the top of the second when Chad Clemens banged a single to left. Zach Leitner followed and reached on a throwing error. The pair moved up the paths on a passed ball. In stepped Aaron Boland and promptly smacked a single up the middle that accounted for a 2-0 Sibley lead.

In their half of the third the Pioneers struck back. Sheets reached base on an infield error. He moved to second on an infield hit by Brant Skarda and went to third on a second Sibley error.

Kyle Ryan put a perfect bunt on the ground and Sheets flew home on the suicide squeeze for the first Hill-Murray tally.

Brian Peterson got things going for Hill-Murray in their half of the fourth by beating out an infield roller to the left side. Sheets followed with his left centerfield fence-clearing blast the leveled the count at 3-3.

Skarda walked. Ryan put another bunt on the ground and was safe on a throwing error. Sean McCarty then plated Skarda with a single to right center. A pop up later, Derek McCallum belted a looper into right center. Brady Field slashed a solid single to left to score two more runs as the count mounted to 7-2, in favor of the "home" team.

In the last of the sixth, the Pioneers again struck. McCarty banged his second hit of the game off the fence in right center and strolled into second. Charles Bruchu put down a bunt to move McCarty to third. McCallum followed with his second single to plate McCarty. Field was hit by a pitch before McCallum moved to third on a wild pitch. Sheets then slapped a ball to the right side and when he was safe on an error, McCallum scored to run the count to 9-2.

In the top of the seventh, Sibley mounted a short-lived rally. Boland smacked his second hit of the game, a one-bounce double off the left centerfield fence. A fly out later and Dan Leslie slammed a ball into the right field corner for a RBI triple.

A hit batter later and Phil Haig lofted a shot to left for a sacrifice fly that plated Leslie with what proved to be the final tally of the 9-4 Hill-Murray triumph.

The teams completed regular season play and awaited the sectional seedings that will determine who they play next.

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