Midland High head baseball coach Barry Russell said he was embarrassed by his team’s performance against rival Lee on Friday at Zachery Field.

During an emotional and at times chippy afternoon, Bulldog pitchers just couldn’t find the strike zone often enough. Three MHS hurlers combined to walk 11 Rebel batters and hit two more with pitches and Lee capitalized, scoring nine of those 13 base runners.

All the traffic on the basepaths was more than enough for Lee to capture a 13-7 District 2-6A victory. The win was the Rebels’ fifth straight over MHS and the two teams will play again at 1 p.m. today at Ernie Johnson Field.

“The name of the game was we didn’t pitch it,” Russell said. “We had 11 walks and two hit batters. You’re not going to beat anybody that way and that’s awful. I’m embarrassed. I’m embarrassed at what I’m putting out on the field right now. I don’t know what to say. I’m at a loss.”

Lee (7-12, 4-2 in District 2-6A) jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first thanks to an RBI triple by Gunnar Blevins, as well as a single to center field by Payton Tranum. Two of the four runs reached base on a walk.

But playing against the Rebels on their home field for the first time since 2-2012, MHS (9-12, 3-3 in District 2-6A) answered with authority in the third.

Trailing, 5-1 the Bulldogs charged ahead with a six-run frame, headlined by a three-run blast to left center by Sam Bertelson that made it 7-5. The first six MHS runners reached base and chased Rebels starter Brayden Payne from the game.

Wyatt Hernandez took over for Payne and quelled the Bulldogs’ rally, which paved the way for a five-run explosion in the fourth for the Rebels.

Hernandez, who ended up allowing one earned run on one hit over five relief innings, said the key for him once again was trusting his offense. It helped him throw strikes and keep his team in the lead the rest of the way.

“I know my team is going to hit and that makes it a lot easier to get out there and throw strikes,” Hernandez said. “I know they have confidence in me and I have confidence in them. They’re going to make plays and I’m going to do my job too.”

In the top of the fourth, Lee tied the game at 7-7 on a walk by Tranum before catcher Chase Pederson gave the Rebels the lead for good with a bases-clearing double to left center.

“It was a really big win,” said Peterson, who drove in four runs in the game. “It felt good and I think it made a lot more (Lee players) have confidence about (Saturday). We’ll be ready to play.”

Lee head coach Brian Roper said he his team matured quite a bit in Saturday’s triumph. There were emotional points that tested his club at various times during the afternoon but the Rebels pressed forward.

“I felt like we grew up an awful lot today,” Roper said. “We had a bad third inning and it was just one of those things where you could see the confidence just start to (drop). I was really proud of how just a little 30-second talk between innings (helped) the kids respond with some competitive at-bats (in the fourth).

“I was really proud of Wyatt Hernandez, a kid who really works his tail off and it was a big moment for him, a great outing for him. Chase Pederson, same thing. (He has) great work habits and it really paid off today.”

Russell said his team will need to find a way to regroup in a hurry for today’s rematch.

“I guess we’ll go see what happens (today),” Russell said. “I keep thinking we’re ready to play and I don’t know what to do. (Opponents are) doing things to win the game and we’re doing things to lose the game.”

Blevins went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, three RBI, three runs scored and two walks for Lee. Colby Standard was 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs, while John Wuthrich went 0-for-1 with three runs and four walks.

For MHS, Bertelson was 1-for-3 with the home run and three driven in. Brooks Betcher, who started for the Bulldogs and labored through two innings, went 1-for-2 with a double, an RBI, two walks and a run scored.

Ryan Culp took over for Betcher to start the third and fired 3 1/3 innings of relief, yielding three runs (one earned) on four hits while walking two. 

Follow Will on Twitter: @Will_MRT


Lee         410         501         2              --13        8              1

MHS      016         000         0              --7          6              4

Brayden Payne, Wyatt Hernandez (3) and Chase Pederson. Brooks Betcher, Tyler Wade (3), Ryan Culp (4) and Sam Matchus. W -- Hernandez. L -- Wade. 2B -- Lee: Gunnar Blevins, Chase Pederson, Payton Tranum, Adam Becker; MHS: Brooks Betcher. 3B -- Lee: Gunnar Blevins. HR -- MHS: Sam Bertelson.

Records: Lee 7-12, 4-2 in District 2-6A; MHS 9-12, 3-3 in District 2-6A

Next: MHS at Lee, 1 p.m. at Ernie Johnson Field