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Smittys split baseball twinbill with Renner

Jaiden Smith, of the Aberdeen Smittys, hits the ball during a game against Sioux Falls Post 15 East earlier this season at Fossum Field. Smith had two hits, drove in three runs and also pitched three innings in relief in a win at Renner on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by John Davis taken 6/21/2023

RENNER – The Aberdeen Smittys split a pair of American Legion baseball games with the Renner Royals on Wednesday, winning game one 12-9, before having a four-game winning streak snapped in a 12-2 setback in game two.

In the first game, the Smittys scored seven first-inning runs to build a lead en route to the victory. Jaiden Smith recorded a two-run single to open the scoring, before Cooper Eisenbeisz had an RBI single to make the score 3-0. Later, Brendan Livermont smacked a two-run double. Andrew Woehl and Drew Salfrank added a pair of RBI singles to round out the offensive barrage in the top of the first.

“In game one, our offense was really clicking,” said Smittys coach Brandon Kusler. “Obviously, putting up seven runs in the first inning is huge, but continuing to add on after that was phenomenal.”

The Smittys were not finished scoring. After the Royals answered back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the second, the Smittys went back to work offensively in the top of the fourth, adding a pair of runs on Casey Vining’s two-run home run, extending their lead to 9-2.

However, Renner added four more runs in the bottom half of the inning, cutting the Smittys’ lead down to 9-6. Kusler gave credit to Renner for not giving up, but also praised his team for doing the same.

“Credit to Renner for fighting back and making things interesting, but really proud of the way our guys played for all seven innings,” Kusler said.

The Smittys added two runs in the fifth on an RBI triple by Vining and an RBI double by Smith, and one more in the seventh on a run-scoring single by Eisenbeisz.

Vining and Smith each had two hits and drove in three runs, while Eiszenbeisz had three hits and knocked in a pair to lead the Aberdeen offense, which produced 15 hits.

Livermont tallied two hits and two RBI, and Woehl, Salfrank, and Zane Backous also had two hits.

On the mound, Phillip Zens picked up the win, pitching four innings and allowing six runs on three hits, while striking out four. Smith pitched three innings, allowing three runs on five hits and striking out two.

“Zens and Smith didn’t have their best stuff on the mound,” Kusler said, “but they both competed their butts off and gave us a chance to win.”

Game two went a completely different direction for the Smittys. Renner posted five runs in the first inning and cruised to a 10-run win in five innings.

Aberdeen scored a pair of runs in the second, as Ethan Kjenstad scored on a single by Woehl, and Livermont scored on a single by Backous.

However, it was all Renner after that as the Royals tacked on four runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth.

“In game two, they just outplayed us all the way around,” Kusler said. “Their offense was on point, and they hit a lot of balls hard and found holes. We just didn’t do enough offensively to stay in the game.”

Salfrank had a pair of hits in the setback.

Aberdeen, 21-12 on the season, has a big weekend of baseball in Minnesota with the Gopher Classic starting on Friday.

“Looking forward to the tournament this weekend in Minneapolis,” Kusler said.

Aberdeen Smittys 700 220 1 – 12 15 1

Renner Royals 020 411 1 – 9 8 2

Phillip Zens, Jaiden Smith (5) and Andrew Woehl; Brycen Top, Billy Liable (3), Kyle Konechne (7) and Sullivan Schlimgen, Jacob Docter. 2B – Aberdeen Smittys, Brendan Livermont, Jaiden Smith; Renner Royals, Schlimgen, Hunter Den Boer, Leo Hueners. 3B – Aberdeen Smittys, Casey Vining. HR – Aberdeen Smittys, Vining.

Aberdeen Smittys 020 00 – 2 5 3

Renner Royals 510 42 – 12 15 1

Drew Salfrank, Cooper Eisenbeisz (2) Charlie Phillips (5) and Zane Backous; Jacob Sanderson, Sullivan Schlimgen (5) and Jacob Docter. 2B – Renner Royals, Leo Hueners, Sullivan Schlimgen. HR – Renner Royals, Zach Dunham.

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