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Smittys open season with win over Fargo

Jackson Welke, of the Aberdeen Smittys, connects with a pitch for an RBI single during Saturday’s game against Fargo Post 400 at Fossum Field. Working behind the plate for Fargo is Malachi Werremeyer. Photo by John Davis taken 5/13/2023

ABERDEEN – The Aberdeen Smittys opened their season with a splash on Saturday afternoon.

The Smittys outlasted Fargo Post 400 11-3 on a rain-soaked Fossum Field in a game that ended in the bottom of the sixth inning due to the rain. Game two was also canceled as a result.

The Smittys used a nine-run fourth inning to open up an 11-0 lead. Smittys coach Brandon Kusler was pleased with how the team responded at the plate in its first game of the season.

“Just really good at bats at the plate. We were able to work a lot of walks and a lot of long pitch at-bats with those walks,” Kusler said, “so just guys battling at the plate and not giving in, finding a way to get on base, and then some guys coming in with some big hits as well.”

Those big hits were scattered throughout the lineup as seven different Smittys had singles in the contest. Jaiden Smith had a pair of hits, including a double, and knocked in two runs in the pivotal fourth inning.

The bottom of the fourth began after a Fargo pitching change. Aberdeen was able to take advantage of the change and immediately fill the bases before Jackson Welke scored on a bases-loaded walk from Phillip Zens to make the score 3-0. Andrew Ristau-Richardson added another run on a passed ball before Smith delivered a two-run double to stretch the lead to 6-0.

The Smittys poured on five more runs in the frame, one on a bases-loaded walk from Zane Backous, in addition to RBI singles by Welke and Zens sandwiched around a two-run single by Ristau-Richardson. Aberdeen ended the inning with seven hits.

The fourth inning came after a slow first three innings. Both teams failed to score in the first two innings before the Smittys plated two runs. Kjenstad drove in Vining for the opening run of the game in the bottom of the third. Kjenstad later scored on a wild pitch for the second run of the inning.

Kusler said the bats were quiet to begin the game, but the team slowly worked into a rhythm in the third inning.

“Bats were a little slow right out of the gate and that was kind of expected,” Kusler said. “We kind of anticipated the bats being slow right away, but we found a way to get it done in the third inning there, and that was big to score first.”

Zane Backous, of the Aberdeen Smittys, throws a pitch as a spectator watches from under an umbrella during Saturday’s game against Fargo Post 400 at Fossum Field. The Smittys were able to play five and a half innings of the first game of the scheduled double header before the game was called due to wet conditions on the mound. Photo by John Davis taken 5/13/2023

Fargo was able to score its two of its three runs in the top of the fifth inning, before adding a solo home run by Jake Jaroszewski in the top of the sixth inning. Overall, Kusler was proud of the pitching performance by Smith, who pitched four innings, allowing three hits and striking out four.

“Outstanding job from Jaiden Smith, and we know he’s gonna be that guy for us all year that’s just gonna fill up the zone and attack hitters,” Kusler said. “We didn’t want to go overly long with him tonight just because we’re gonna need him on Tuesday, so we kept his pitch count a little shorter, but he did outstanding.”

The Smittys play at Watertown in a doubleheader on Tuesday, and Kusler was excited for the positive takeaways after one game.

“Just mainly Jaiden’s start on the mound, and then just the way we battled offensively,” Kusler said. “Lots of good AB’s, throwing strikes on the mound, that’s gonna be our MO all year long. If we can do those things, if we can throw strikes and we can be aggressive offensively and put together good at-bats, we’re gonna be a tough team to beat.”

Fargo 000 021 – 3 8 3

Aberdeen Smittys 002 900 – 11 8 1

Jake Jaroszewski, Jackson Amerman (3), M. Bryan (4) and M. Werremeyer, J. Demers; Jaiden Smith, Zane Backous (5) and Andrew Ristau-Richardson. 2B – Fargo, C. Jungling; Aberdeen Smittys, Smith. HR – Jaroszewski.

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