Miners fall late in opener
By Jarann Johnson
The Beulah Miners entered the 2015 Class B State Tournament hoping to knock off the No.1-seeded team and repeat the 2012 Miners’ state championship run. The Miners were close to accomplishing their goal but Grafton didn’t let it happen.
The Miners drew The Grafton Spoilers, the top-seeded team in the tournament, for the first round and Grafton quickly showed why they were the top team in the tournament. Grafton starting pitcher Zak Hernandez retired the Miners first three batters in 1-2-3 order.
In the bottom frame Grafton showed their offensive skill with two outs. Hernandez recorded the first hit of the game off Miners’ starter Alec Battest, then Hunter Baldwin drew a walk and Cody Kingsbury was hit by a pitch – loading the bases.
Battest didn’t panic in the first high-pressure situation of the game. Instead, the junior pitcher forced a ground out to second to end the inning.
Hernandez showed Battest that he was also capable of handling pressure. In the top of the second Battest hit a leadoff single, then Hayden Norton was hit by a pitch. Norton’s at-bat was only a half-success since Battest’s courtesy runner, Brandon Elton, was thrown out at second trying to steal.
Aaron Vallejo, freshman, followed with a fielder’s choice, giving Grafton two outs in the inning. Getting the third and final out of the second proved tough though – Hernandez walked a batter and gave up a single.
Luckily Hernandez was facing Adam Becker, Beulah’s No. 9 hitter, with the bases loaded and two outs. Becker couldn’t deliver a surprise run from the bottom of the order and the game went to the bottom of the second tied at 0-0.
In the second, two costly mistakes hurt the Miners. First, Battest walked the leadoff batter, Brock Janikowski, then the defense was tricked by a late steal attempt, putting Grafton in scoring position.
Battest tried to battle out of it with two consecutive strikeouts, but Jess Suda, Grafton’s No.1 hitter, made sure his team took the lead by hitting a 1-2 pitch for a one-run triple. Down 1-0, Beulah didn’t implode going into the third, instead they rallied.