Jack of all trades and master of them, too
BROWNTON -- While Jeremy Hinderks rounded third and jogged to the plate on yet another home run trot, his Sacred Heart Saints teammates were joking in the dugout.
"I'm not even going to go out to shake his hand," one said.
"He doesn't even amaze me anymore," said another.
Good-natured kidding aside, both headed out to congratulate the man who almost single-handedly put the Saints into the second round of the Minnesota Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament on Saturday.
Hinderks hit two homers, accounting for all the run production in the Saints' 4-2 win over Pelican Rapids at Barney Tadsen Field.
Hinderks backed his offense with yeoman work - for him - on the mound, working a complete game, scattering eight hits and striking out five.
"That's what we've been getting to all year," said Saints manager Andy Davis. "Even when our guys say they had a bad start, they've given up two or three runs. If that's a bad start, I'll take it every time."
The Region 11C champion Saints advanced to play Isanti at 11 a.m., Saturday, Aug. 27, in Glencoe. Isanti moved into the second round with a 4-1 win over Region 15C champ Lake Henry on Saturday.
Hinderks led the Saints with 14 home runs and 43 runs batted in entering the tournament, which both were about double that produced by the team's next-best hitter. In the bottom of the first, Hinderks put a little more cushion into those numbers.
After a walk and an error put Ryan Hebrink and Nate Hebrink aboard with one out, Hinderks blasted a three-run shot off Pelican Rapids starter Alex Johnson that appeared to be still gaining altitude when it cleared the fence in left-center.
"(Johnson) threw me curveballs the first couple of pitches so I was gearing up for a fastball," Hinderks said. "I wasn't going to swing if he threw another curve, but he came with a fastball and I got it."
Although Pelican Rapids stranded eight runners and scored twice on Cole Anderson's two-run double in the fifth, Hinderk's first home run produced all the runs the Saints would need. For insurance, Hinderks ripped a laser over the center field fence off Pelican Rapids reliever Shane Hendrickson in the eighth.
Hinderks was more frustrated than displeased with his pitching effort, muttering to himself more than a couple of times on the mound when pitches weren't going where he wanted them to. Pelican Rapids put two runners on in both the first and second innings and had its lead-off man reach in the third.
But the Saints' defense came to the rescue. They turned a double play to end the first, and Hinderks and shortstop Ryan Hebrink picked the lead runner off second in the second inning.
After Anderson's run-scoring double cut the lead to 3-2, Hinderks allowed just two hits the rest of the way.
"The last three innings, I started to get comfortable," Hinderks said. "The first six, I struggled. It was like wrestling a bear out there. But our defense made up for it."
Hinderks was 3-for-3, and his battery mate, catcher Dakota Freiborg had three hits in four trips in his first state tournament game.
Freiborg said Hinderks wasn't struggling as much as his pitching style was not in synch with home plate umpire Buzzie Segal's preference for balls and strikes.
"There's a lower zone (Hinderks) likes to hit and the umpire didn't call that zone," Freiborg said. "He started going with a lot more off-speed stuff and then he got going. As soon as we got the lead, he was on cruise control. As soon as you get a couple of runs, he's pretty tough to get onto."