The Mankato East baseball team has found itself many tight games of late, but has been unable to get runs across in crucial late game situations.
Friday in a Big Nine Conference doubleheader with Albert Lea at Wolverton Field, the Cougars were able to do that. Combined with some good pitching from Nick Brink, East swept the Tigers 4-1 and 5-4.
“We’ve been in so many ball games the last couple of weeks, we just haven’t been able to get clutch hits with guys on base,” said East coach Cory Smith. “I thought Brink came up and had some big hits and Joe Billiar as well with guys in scoring position and that helped us out a lot.”
Billiar gave East the run support he needed in the first game in the bottom of the first. With two outs and runners on second and third, he sent a shot the opposite way down the first base line to score both Sean Allan and Dylan Findlay to put East up 2-0.
Brink did his part on the mound striking out the side in the second, not allowing a hit until the third.
“Brink was exceptional and that’s what we expect from him to come out and just dominate,” said Smith. “He got ahead early and only threw 86 pitches in a complete game.
“It was nice to keep his pitch count low, so going into sections; his arm is going to be fresh next week as well.”
Brink allowed only two hits while striking out six.
The Cougars added some insurance runs in the fifth. Brady DesLauriers drew a leadoff walk and, after advancing to second on a sacrifice, he came around to score on an RBI single up the middle from Brink. Findlay, who pinch ran for Brink, scored the game’s fourth run on a double steal.