MANKATO — The Owatonna Aces came into Friday’s Southern Minny League amateur baseball game ranked among the top 10 in the state. Thirteen hits and seven runs later it became apparent why.
The Aces downed the Mankato Mets 7-3 at Wolverton Field, capitalizing on five errors and getting hits in clutch situations to run their record to 21-4. The Mets, meanwhile, stranded seven runners in scoring position and threw the ball around the field defensively.
“You can’t do that and expect to beat a good team like Owatonna,” Mets player/coach Josh Anderson said. “We made some errors and they jumped on those and turned them into runs.
“And we didn’t get very many key hits tonight, either. We didn’t produce when we had to.”
Brandon Wolf administered most of the damage for Owatonna, going 4 for 5 with two doubles and reaching on an error. He knocked in a run and scored a run. Teammates Tyler Smith and Travis Hilstead added two his apiece.
“We’ve been playing pretty well this year,” Wolf said. “We have a young team but we won a couple of tournaments early and that gave us some confidence.” Tate Cummins drove in the game-winning run in the fifth inning with a single to left. The hit scored Sheridan Skala who had reached on a single and moved to third on a bad pickoff throw.
Josh Smith went the distance for the win, scattering six hits and allowing one earned run on four walks with 11 strikeouts.
“He makes me look good out there,” said Wolf, who is the team’s catcher. “He has a nice change, a nice curve ball and he mixes in his fastball well. He probably walked a few more guys tonight than he usually does but, otherwise, it was a pretty typical game for him.”
The Mets picked up a solo run in the third as Todd Rasmussen drew a leadoff walk, advanced to third when Josh Smith’s pickoff attempt ended up down the right-field line and scored on Adam Geiger’s ground out to second. Owatonna answered with three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth to take the lead for good.
Mankato added another run in the sixth. Mitch Kleist struck out with two men down but the catcher dropped the ball and then threw it over the first-baseman’s head to put the batter on second. A short-time later, pinch hitter Seth Allan singled down the right-field line to drive in courtesy runner Adam Rajtar.
Mankato’s final run came in the eighth when Josh Anderson and Mitch Kleist ripped back-to-back singles and Anderson eventually scored on a wild pitch.
Darin Hendley took the loss, giving up five earned runs on nine through six innings. Ashton Dorris finished up.
Mankato (12-4) plays at 2:30 p.m. today at the Austin Greyhounds.