HASTINGS – Fremont’s five-run fifth inning was too much to overcome for the less-than-full-strength Hastings Sodbusters on Monday at Duncan Field.
The Sodbusters closed a six-run deficit to two but ended up dropping an 8-4 decision to the Moo.
“Their guy (Michael Attalah) was really good on the mound,” said Hastings head coach Ryan McClaran, whose team stranded 13 baserunners. “I’d say excellent, actually. He was a little wild but effectively wild. He was at Oregon State at one point, and you could tell. There were flashes of it at some points.”
Hastings was missing three of the top five hitters in its lineup and its starting pitcher from its Monday home game two weeks ago due to injuries.
The injured list includes pitcher Max Schreiber (Nebraska), designated hitter Jake Oblas (Cisco College), first baseman Adam Gadsden (Nebraska-Omaha) and center fielder Casey Burnham (Kansas and a Grand Island Senior High graduate).
“Adam Gadsden and Casey Burnham are a big part of this lineup,” McClaran said. “Not having those two, (assistant coach Aaron Alvarez) and I really have to figure out some stuff.”
Fremont (12-20) added onto a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning and chased Hastings starting pitcher Chris Buting (UC-San Diego) after the first two batters reached on a single and a walk.
With the bases loaded, cleanup hitter Brock Reller (Minnesota-Crookston) singled off reliever Ivan Varela (Cabrini University) to plate two more runs.
Jack Simonsen (North Dakota State) added an RBI single before Peter Carlson (Northwest Missouri State) had a two-run single to right field to give the Moo a 6-0 cushion.
“We left some balls over the middle of the plate,” McClaran said. “They capitalized, and we couldn’t do the same.”
Buting was charged for three runs on four hits in four-plus innings. He struck out eight and walked three.
The Sodbusters (14-20) slowly got back into the game. Making his debut after joining Hastings from Western Nebraska, first baseman Will Richardson (Arkansas State) got the Sodbusters on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth.
In the sixth and with the bases loaded, Hastings St. Cecilia graduate Grant Schmidt (Cloud County CC) had an infield single before Richardson and Grand Island Central Catholic graduate Alec Lee (Northern State) both drew walks to close the gap to 6-4.
Attalah (Bellevue CC) exited after allowing four runs on four hits with eight strikeouts and six walks over 5 2/3 innings.
But McClaran said he wasn’t feeling optimistic even after the Sodbusters had pulled within two.
“We struggled so bad that game with runners on base,” he said. “I’m not a
very good coach, not mixing it up. Definitely could have bunted and hit-and-run on some situations. (We’re) just having a hard time.”
The Moo added a pair of insurance runs in the eighth inning off Grand Island Senior High graduate Matthew Lamb (Missouri S&T).
The Sodbusters are now off until a Fourth of July home doubleheader against Hub City.
“I don’t want them to touch a baseball (until Thursday),” McClaran said. “We need to get as far away from it as possible. Hopefully by doing that we’ll stir some things up.”