MARSHALL - After the first inning, Marshall Mudcats pitcher Riley Roth was sprawled out on the dirt, trying anything to ease the pain in his back.
After tweaking his bat at the Grand Rapids tournament, Roth was trying anything he could to alleviate the reoccurring injury.
"I went to the chiropractor (Wednesday) morning, and I thought it'd be fine," Roth said. "But it's still sore, so we'll see how it does now."
Photo by Joe Brown
Marshall’s Mason Schnaible rounds third base to score a run off a single by Leo Zerr in the first inning of Wednesday’s Legion baseball game against Minneota at Legion Field in Marshall. Schnaible was 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and three runs scored in the Mudcats’ 9-2 victory.
One way the Mudcats' lefty looked to help was by dropping his arm, going from an overhand throwing motion to more of a sidearm. After tinkering with it in the bullpen, and after his back injury flared up again, Roth got the go-ahead from head coach Chace Pollock to drop his arm after the second inning.
"When I was in the bullpen, I was throwing overhand and it was hurting again, so I asked (Michael) Danahar, 'Should I start dropping down?'" Roth said. "... I started (overhand), then I asked Colton (Peterson, Marshall's catcher) and Coach if I should start dropping down, and they said, 'Sure.'"
And 11 straight retired batters later, the move paid off in grand fashion for Marshall, as the Mudcats returned to the win column with a 9-2 home victory over Minneota.
In six innings, Roth struck out six, while holding Minneota to three straight 1-2-3 innings to cement the victory.
"(Switching to sidearm) helped a lot," Pollock said. "His ball had movement now, it was in the zone more.
"It was a little questionable right away if we were going to let him do it because I wanted him to throw strikes, but he came in and threw strikes that way. It was nice to see him pitch well tonight."
Roth started with a cushion when Leo Zerr had an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning, but Minneota got the bats moving in the top of the second. Starting with a leadoff single from Cory Drietz, Minneota loaded the bases for Luke Bretschneider. Bretschneider hit the ball to shortstop, setting up for a potential inning-ending double play. But the throw to first was high, allowing Drietz and Andrew Swanson to score for the 2-1 Minneota lead.
"I was happy with how we put the ball in play for the most part," said Minneota head coach Keven Larson. "Just in those middle innings, we went a bit stale."
In the bottom half of the frame, the Mudcats snatched the lead back after RBI singles from Jon Kor and Schnaible. And from there, Roth locked down Minneota's batters on the way to a victory on the bump.
"He was in a groove for a while there," Pollock said of Roth. "He needed that outing there tonight."
Schnaible and Riley Carpenter blasted Minneota pitcher Cal Swedzinski, each finishing 3-for-4 at the plate. Carpenter had an RBI, while Schnaible had three runs scored, including a two-run home run in the fifth that stayed inside the foul pole in right field, capping off a four-run inning for the Mudcats.
Getting its last hit in the second inning, Minneota got a small rally going in the sixth with three straight singles to load the bases. But Roth struck out Swanson, and forced Dillon Guttormsson into a pop fly to end the scoring threat.
When Roth went from over-the-top to sidearm, it was like facing two different pitchers for Minneota.
"They go through the first time and see one thing, then the second time through, it had a little more movement," Larson said. "We adjusted and eventually got the bases loaded, but we couldn't get a hit."
With the victory, the Mudcats improve to 3-8, while Minneota drops to 2-2. Marshall hosts Sioux Falls for a doubleheader today, while Minneota plays Dawson today in Minneota.
Minneota020 000 0-2 7 3
Marshall120 240 X-9 12 2
MIN-Cal Swedzinski; MAR-Riley Roth, Benny Sanders (7). WP-Roth. LP-Swedzinski. HR: MAR-Mason Schnaible. 2B: MAR-Riley Carpenter. LOB: MIN-4; MAR-7.