A couple of timely home runs by Zach Komst helped propel the Mid-Island Brewers into first place in the South Island Baseball League last weekend.
Komst hit his first long ball of the year in game one of a doubleheader against the Lambrick White Sox on Saturday, bringing in what proved to be deciding run in a 7-5 victory. He struck again in the second game and his solo shot held up as the winner in a 3-2 victory.
The Brewers had moved into top spot in the SIBL following a loss by the Layritz Reds on Friday, but manager Keygan Hankins wanted to make sure his team stayed focused going into the games against the White Sox, who are newcomers to the league this year but competitive nonetheless.
“I told the team that this was our chance to try and run away with first place in the regular season and secure it for the first time in our history,” Hankins said. “We needed to be hungrier than before, as we have a fairly difficult schedule the rest of the season, playing only teams in the top half of the standings.”
Jordan Frost was lights-out on the mound in the first game, striking out 11 and allowing only three hits and two runs over five innings. Komst’s two-run blast in the sixth extended the Brewer’s lead to 7-2, and proved vital as the Sox got to Mid-Island reliever Alejandro Ortega for three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Ortega went back out for the seventh, however, and shut down the Sox in order to secure the win.
“I definitely had a bit of worry in me going into the seventh inning, as Alejandro had struggled the previous inning,” Hankins admitted. “But I knew he was my guy for the situation and he proved it settling down and finishing strong after a rocky first inning.”
Pitcher and leadoff batter Jamie Roberts set the tone for the second game with a homer on the third pitch of the game.
“This got the team in the right mindset to stay hungry and vigilant,” Hankins said. “It reminded us how good of a team we are when we are playing our own brand of baseball.”
Scoring was limited for the rest of the game. Keir Baknes scored on a fielder’s choice by Hayden Plester to increase the lead to 2-0, but the White Sox were able to induce more double plays — five on the day — than the Brewers have grounded into over the last three years put together. The Sox managed to tie the score before Komst came to the plate in the top of the seventh and launched the ball to deep left centre — Hankins estimated 400 feet — to give the Brewers the lead. Roberts polished the White Sox off in the bottom of the inning, finishing with eight strikeouts and two runs over a full seven innings.
The Brewers will carry their 11-3 record into their final homestand of the regular season this Saturday, with games at Evans Park at noon and 3 p.m.
“We’ve been playing really good baseball the last couple of weeks,” Hankins said. “But we still have a couple things we need to improve on before going into the playoffs in just a couple weeks, but I think it’s a challenge we will be up to.”