Home Federal pitcher Brenden Mendez limited Sutton to four hits on Sunday.
Home Federal leadoff hitter Brenden Mendez recorded three hits against Sutton on Sunday.
If your pitcher gives up just one more hit than he records, that’s a sign that it was a pretty successful game.
That was the case at Ryder Park as Mendez and a big fifth inning combined to hand Home Federal a 7-1 victory.
Mendez struck out eight and walked one.
“Brenden Mendez pitched really well,” Home Federal assistant coach Chris Langin said. “He needed a bounceback. He’s struggled a little bit this season. He had a knee problem last year, and I think it stunted his growth a little bit.
“He’s starting to get in there, and he’s starting to get some cruising going on when he’s throwing a little bit better.”
Mendez was satisfied with his performance on the mound.
“At first I was getting a little nervous,” he said. “I decided I would just do my thing and throw strikes like I did last year. That’s what I did.
“They couldn’t really hit my curveball, so I stuck with that a lot while still switching it up.”
Mendez had knee surgery prior to football season last fall. He said his knee doesn’t bother him any more other than an occasional odd sensation.
Mendez also had a strong outing at the plate. After grounding out in the bottom of the first, he singled in each of his final three at-bats.
His first two singles followed up leadoff hits by Trevor Johnson and resulted in the two innings during which Home Federal scored all of its runs.
“I felt confident,” Mendez said. “I wanted to kill the ball. I wanted to hit a double. That’s all I was thinking about — double, double. But to hit three singles is fine for now.
“I’m a really aggressive batter and I like to swing at the first pitch. That’s what I usually do. Maybe I can get another chance to bat leadoff.”
Langin said the coaches would like to find a way to give Mendez that opportunity.
“I looked at his on-base percentage before the game, and it’s up near .500,” he said. “We’d love to figure out a way to get him into the lineup more often. The way our positions are set up, it’s tough to fit his bat into our lineup. But he was a great hitter last year before he got hurt at the junior level.”
Home Federal (10-13) found itself in a scoreless game until Johnson scored on a wild pitch and Eli Arends hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third.
It remained 2-0 until the big five-run fifth inning, which was highlighted by Matt Jurgensmier’s two-run single with two outs.
“You’ve got to give Sutton some credit,” Langin said. “They come in here as a Class C team and it’s probably one of those games they’ve got circled.
“The first four innings, quite frankly, they outcoached us and they outplayed us to an extend. I know the scoreboard didn’t necessarily show that, but when you consider the talent differential, Sutton came in and gave us a good game for sure.”
Home Federal finished the weekend 2-1 without head coach Jake Ritzdorf, who missed Saturday and Sunday to attend a wedding.
“(The players) did very well during this little endeavor that we had,” Langin said. “I’m extremely proud of them. This was a good weekend for us.”
Now Home Federal will really try to get things going in the right direction. A win Monday at home during a 7:30 p.m. make-up game against Kearney would be a huge step towards that.
“This is one of those stretches that can really define your season a little bit and really turn things around,” Langin said. “Everyone knows they were 0-4 against Kearney in the spring and we’re 0-1 this summer so far. That’s certainly a game that we would like to win.”
Sutton 000 001 0—1 4 2
Home Federal (10-13) 002 050 x—7 10 1
WP—Mendez. LP—Nuss. 2B—HF, Johnson, Cahoy.