Baseball: Pierz survives scare against Melrose – Brainerd Dispatch

ST. CLOUD – It’s been a tough day being one of the top two seeds in Section 6-2A at Faber and Putz Fields in St. Cloud on Wednesday, June 1st.

After No. 8 Eden Valley-Watkins defeated Albany 4-2 at Faber Field, the No. 2 Pierz Pioneers were down with their final hit against the No. 10 Melrose Dutchmen.

With two outs and runners in second and third at the end of the seventh, Pierz’s Jeremy Bingessner hit a mile-high popup toward first base. Neither of the Dutch caught it and when the ball landed Andy Winscher crossed the home line on a winning run and the Pioneers walked away with a 10-9 victory and advanced to the Winner’s Bracket.

“It’s a game that every coach plays all season — a pop-up, and when there’s no one around you’re trying to get second and with two outs you run and score if the ball falls,” Pierz -Head coach Dylan Pittman said. “A kid like Jeremy hits it a mile when it hits straight and hits it a mile too when it goes up. We all saw a play like that and it just happened.”

The seventh-inning rally began for Pierz with a one-out pinch hit single by Louis Gruber. He stole second and moved up to third with a flyout down the middle. Winscher was then hit by a pitch and stole second place during Bingessner’s at-bat.

The Pioneers were able to claim the win despite being beaten 10-7 and benefiting from five Melrose errors.

“We didn’t have a nice game at all today, but we took a chance and got them out,” Pittman said. “We have a great group of guys who hold their heads up and in every baseball game there are different things that happen that scratch your head. So you have to be prepared for everything and everyone at all times and hurry.”

On top of the seventh with two outs, Melrose’s Anthony Berscheit shot a ball over the midfielder’s head and was able to hit the relay for an inside-the-park home run to give Melrose a 9-8 lead.

Bingessner started for the Pioneers and lasted 5.2 innings, allowing eight runs with six strikeouts and four walks. Ben Virnig won, throwing 1.1 innings.

“Now with pitch counts you’re just looking at your depth and trying to succeed,” Pittman said. “We know what Jeremy can do, and it’s often the case that good pitchers don’t start to get their groove until the fourth or fifth inning. Jeremy didn’t have his best day, but he persevered.”

Maxwell Wehlage started for the Dutch and went 6.2 innings and knocked out three. Ryan Herdering was marked with the loss after facing two batters.

In a back-and-forth contest, Melrose broke a 5-5 tie with a three-run top of fourth. The Dutch recovered with two outs. A double by Westin Middendorf followed by a hit batter put the runners in first and second place.

Melrose then produced three straight RBI singles to take an 8-5 lead.

“You don’t want to overlook anyone,” Pittman said. “We had two games at the end of our year that went to last place. It’s baseball and when someone’s got their best man on the hill, they’ve got a shot. It’s a deep section with a lot of competition, but in baseball you just don’t want to overlook anyone.”

Pierz fought back and scored twice late in the fifth. Mason Herold hit on a defensive obstruction call and Winscher blooped an RBI single to 8-7 Melrose.

The Pioneers kept the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth but connected play with a Herald sacrifice fly in the sixth scored by Virnig, who doubled for his second hit earlier in the sixth.

Pierz scored, starting with a four-run floor of the first inning. Two hit-batters put Runners in first and second place and Virnig ripped an RBI single to put the Pioneers on the board.

A third baseman error scored the second run, putting the runners in second and third place with two outs. Kirby Fischer finished first in the four-run with a two-run single, which was the first of his two singles.

“Every time you get up early, it’s kind of a trap,” Pittman said. “And sometimes you relax and you don’t play ball like you would. It’s just one of those ones where you have to trust the process and stay in the game regardless of the outcome.”

The Dutch responded with a five-run lead of the second, aided by three walks.

A base-heavy walk put Melrose on the board, and a base-clearing double from Hunter Goihl ended the game. Another brace from Connor Anderson gave Melrose the first lead.

Pierz tied the game at the end of the second through another throwing error by the Dutch third baseman.

“We have to do all the little things to win these games,” Pittman said. “We will try to forget most of what happened today except the last part where we won and move on to tomorrow.”

WP: Ben Virnig. LP: Ryan Herdering. 2B: Prz-Ben Virnig, M-Hunter Goihl, Connor Anderson, Westin Middendorf. HR: M-Anthony Berscheit.

CONRAD ENGSTROM can be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at


button: Pierz pulls off a miracle at the bottom of seventh place to advance to the Section 6-2A Winner’s Bracket

In total: Prz 17-4, Mel 10-9.

Next: Pierz vs. Wadena-Deer Creek/Kimball at Putz Field in St. Cloud 7 p.m. Thursday, June 2.

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