Freebies Plague Redbirds as Leprechauns Win, 7-3

June 1, 2023by Jacob Cotsonika

Fans at The Lucky Corner went home happy for the second straight day, as the Leprechauns entered the win column again, with a 7-3 over the Southfield Redbirds. Today’s performance was not quite as dominant as yesterday’s 11-0 victory, but it was still very clear the Leprechauns were the better baseball team on the field today.

The Leprechauns, encouraged by “Let’s Go Leprechauns!” chants from the young, home crowd, jumped out to a comfortable lead early, scoring five runs in the first two innings, including four in the second inning. The Redbirds’ starting pitcher, Tyson Carter, walked five batters and hit two Leprechauns with pitches in three innings, which began a trend that lasted throughout the game where the Redbird defense gave the Leprechauns offense free bases. In those two innings, the Leprechauns were able to get those five runs through only three hits, none of them going for extra bases. 

Initially, the Leprechauns’ pitching was brilliant. Tyler Sager, from Northwood University, handed in three innings where he retired all nine batters he faced, including five strikeouts. Joseph Nelan entered the game in relief for the fourth, and the Marian Knight threw only three pitches in the fourth inning. Nelan did face some struggles in the fifth though, allowing the Redbirds to get their first run of the series across through a walk and two singles. 

The bats for the Leprechauns quieted down during the middle innings, as well. During the third, fourth, and fifth inning, the Leps were only able to muster one hit in that time frame. More free bases from Redbirds pitching handed the offense a golden opportunity to pad their lead in the fifth, with runners on second and third with just one out, but the Leprechauns were unable to score after back-to-back strikeouts from Harrison Ryan, from Northern Kentucky, and Ryan Callanan, out of San Bernardino Valley College, left them stranded. 

For the top of the sixth, the Leprechauns turned to Aidan McWayne, out of Northwood as well. He used a potent combination of a sweeping curveball and fastball to strike out his first batter on three pitches. He did hit the next batter, but the defense responded with the play of the game. After a deep fly ball to left center field, center fielder Jacob Yarberry made a running play to catch it. Noticing that the runner on first had run to second, Yarberry launched the ball about 250 feet to first for a massive double play to get the Leprechauns off the field. 

Defense turned to offense as the Leprechauns added an insurance run to make the score 5-1, through a leadoff bunt single by Binghamton University’s own Mike Stellrecht, who then proceeded to steal both second and third base. The Redbirds continued to hand out free passes, walking both Trey Haeger and Patrick Ilitch to load the bases with one out. Jake Zeeb then earned an RBI through a ground ball to second that might have been a double play, but used his speed to beat out any throw. 

The Leprechauns’ Tyler Kapa had entered the game for the top of the seventh, and started strong by getting the first two hitters out through a strikeout and groundout. He had the opportunity to end the inning himself, but his own fielding error allowed the inning to continue. The Redbirds seized that opportunity with three straight singles, which allowed two runs to score, making the score 6-3 and adding some interest to the game for the first time. 

After a quiet bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth, the Leprechauns added one more insurance to push the lead to four runs in the bottom of the eighth. Jacob Gumieny came in as a pinch hitter and used his speed to beat out what looked like a relatively routine grounder to the shortstop, earning himself an infield hit. Shortly thereafter one last free base was handed out to the Leprechauns, as Lucas Rick was hit by a pitch. Jake Zeeb hit another run in via a fielder’s choice, giving him two RBIs and stolen bases on the day. In total, the Leprechauns saw the benefit of thirteen instances where the Redbirds either walked them, hit them with a pitch, or allowed a baserunner an extra base on an error. This number also does not include times there were wild pitches or past balls, where there were several. 

To secure the win, the Leprechauns turned to Michigan Wolverine Brandon Mann for a second straight day. Mann was able to contain the struggling Redbirds’ offense, starting off the inning with a pop up on the infield and a weak ground back to the mound. He did allow a single, but immediately recovered by forcing a weak line drive directly towards Lucas Rick at first, recording the final out of the game.

Leprechauns win again, 7-3. They will look to complete a sweep of the Redbirds with another game tomorrow at 11 a.m., with another exhibition game with the defending champions, the Michigan Monarchs, on the horizon for Opening Day on Saturday, June 3 at 7:05 p.m.