MINNEAPOLIS — The Abilene Rebels baseball team opened up its season with a road trip to Minneapolis Tuesday night for a double-header, and came away with a split.
Both games were played with an hour and forty-five minute time limit. Minneapolis took the opener, in walk-off fashion, 5-4 while Abilene won the nightcap 12-9 after letting a big lead slip away. .
In Game One, Abilene jumped out to a quick lead as Kaden Coup got the season started by hitting the second pitch of the game into left field for a single. Coup later scored on a single by Robbie Keener. Karsen Loader got the start on the mound for Abilene and kept the home team off the scoreboard in the first by striking out two, walking one, and allowing one hit. Minneapolis stranded runners at second base and third base.
Neither team mustered much offense in the second inning, though Brenton Reiff singled for the Rebels. Abilene added to its lead in the third inning as Ayden Taylor led off by being hit by a pitch, Kellen Signer singled and Coup singled to drive in a pair for the 3-0 lead. Minneapolis got right back in the game though in its half of the inning by scoring three runs on two hits and a walk to make the score 3-3.
I the fourth inning the Rebels went down in order while Minneapolis only sent four to the plate, getting a base runner on an error.
In the fifth and final inning, Abilene scored another run as Taylor singled and later scored on a single by Loader for the 4-3 lead. After the first two batters reached safely for Minneapolis, a pitching change was made for the Rebels. But two walks and a hit batter led to two runs, including the game winner, as the time-limit was reached.
“It was tough to let this one slip away, but it was really nice for the kids to be out on the field again playing meaningful baseball,” said Abilene head coach Billy Hansen. “Karsen pitched pretty well for the first time out of the season, and I was generally happy with the way we played.”
On the mound for the Rebels, Loader went four innings striking out six, walked three, allowed just three hits, and four earned runs. Brenton Reiff pitched a third of an inning allowing one hit, walked two, and hit a batter.
Offensively for Abilene, Coup went 3-3 with a run scored and two RBI. Taylor was 1-1 with two runs scored and was hit by a pitch. Signer went 1-2 with a run scored. Keener was 1-2 with a walk and a RBI. Loader was 1-3 with a RBI, and Reiff went 1-2.
In Game Two, the Rebels jumped out to an early lead but Minneapolis came back again. Roman Sanchez led the game off with a single to left field, followed by singles from Carter Taplin and Coup. Stewart Scott later doubled in the inning and Michael McClanahan singled. Abilene plated four runs in the inning. Minneapolis got a run of its own in its half of the first inning on a couple of hits.
The Rebels pushed four more runs across the plate in the second inning with one out as Ben Short reached on an error and later scored. Sam Gantner was hit by a pitch and later scored. Sanchez and Taplin again singled and Coup tripled.
Minneapolis got a lone single in the inning. Abilene was held off the board in the third inning while Minneapolis scored three runs without a hit, as the Rebels committed a couple of defensive errors. The score was now 8-4 in favor of Abilene.
in the fourth inning Abilene squandered away a chance at, at least, one or two runs after Gantner and Taplin singled. But a mishap on the base paths on a one-out single by Coup and Taplin and Gantner got tagged out to end the threat.
“I will take the blame for that. I stopped Sam (Gantner) at third after he took a big turn after touching the base, and Carter was already committed to coming to third. Gantner ended up getting tagged out at home and Taplin was out getting back to second,” said Hansen.
That play seemed to swing the momentum over to Minneapolis. It inched even closer in its half of the fourth inning by plating three runs on two hits and two walks to make the score 8-7, Abilene.
The Rebels got a couple of hits from Loader and McClanahan in the fifth inning, but they would be stranded. Minneapolis tied the game in the fifth after a single and triple back to back.
The hour and forty-five minute time limit had been reached, but with the game tied at eight, it continued into the sixth inning. With two outs, and Short on base after a walk, Sanchez walked, Taplin singled, and Coup hit a little infield pop-ups that nobody could get to. Keener then smoked a line drive to left field that one-hopped the fence for a ground-rule double that drove in two of the four runs that Abilene scored in the inning. Minneapolis was able to plate one in its half of the sixth, but that would be all as the Rebels held on for the 12-9 victory.
“This game was eerily similar to the first game, where we had a lead and watched it slip away,” Hansen said. “We hit the ball really well in this game (17 hits), but had some small mistakes that we can hopefully learn from. Carter and Roman got some good work in on the mound against a good team. It was two competitive games to start the season, and it was good to come away with, at least, a split.”
Offensively for the Rebels, Coup led the way going 4-4 with two runs scored and five RBI. Taplin was also 4-4 with three runs scored and a RBI. Scott went 1-1 with a run scored, two walks, two stolen bases, and a RBI. Sanchez went 2-3 with three runs scored, a walk, and a RBI. McClanahan went 2-3 with a RBI. Gantner was 1-2 with a run scored and was hit by a pitch. Loader went 2-4 with a stolen base, and Keener was 1-4 with two RBI.
On the mound for Abilene, Taplin got the start going three and a third innings striking out two, walked two, allowed four hits, and four earned runs. Sanchez tossed the final two and two-thirds innings striking out six, walked one, hit a batter, allowed five hits, and three earned runs.
Abilene, 1-1, then hosted Chapman for their home-opener Thursday night at Ted Power Field.