In commanding fashion, the Johnny Mac Blue Thunder won the first round of the SLABA post-season tournament last week with an 11-2 win over the St. Louis Tigers.
The win for the Blue Thunder avenged a 6-2 loss to the Tigers June 14.
“We took a different attitude in that we need three wins now to get to Dallas (the American Amateur Baseball Congress regional),” Blue Thunder head coach Jim Muskopf told the Call.
Blue Thunder starting pitcher Alex Hrbec threw a solid seven innings in which he gave up just two runs on 11 hits. Hrbec also struck out eight batters while walking none in his first win of the season.
“Alex had a wicked fastball, and they didn’t hit him as well as the number of hits indicate,” Muskopf said. “The key was his key strikeouts. It was a gutsy performance. Probably one of our better pitched games all year long.”
Blue Thunder catcher Brett Hartmann had the strongest afternoon at the plate with a 3-3 performance, which included a triple, a sacrifice bunt and three runs batted in.
“Brett made a minor change in his batting stance, and he was on fire today,” Muskopf said. “He also called an intelligent game behind the plate. This was the first time this year he’s had a complete game both at the plate and behind the plate.”
Center fielder Greg Christ also drove in three runs with a 1-3 performance that included a triple and a sacrifice fly.
“Greg’s had a steady season,” Muskopf said. “We moved Greg to center field, and he’s done very well. He puts the bat on the ball and seldom strikes out.”
The Blue Thunder was scheduled to continue its round-robin play in the SLABA tournament with games against American National-Elder on Monday and the St. Louis Blazers on Tuesday — after the Call went to press.