MITCHELL — It may have felt like any other outing for Macon Oplinger, but there was certainly a unique twist.
Sure, he’s pitched eight innings in a game many times in his amateur baseball career. But never eight innings in a game that was completed 18 and a half hours after the first pitch.
That would qualify as unique.
In a game that was resumed from a weather delay Friday night, Oplinger completed a shutout as Menno blanked Clear Lake 10-0 in an eight-inning opening round game at the South Dakota State Class B Tournament at Mitchell’s Drake Field.
Oplinger began Saturday the same way he ended Friday before the delay: Dealing on the mound.
“I didn’t feel too bad as the day went on, so it was just like any other outing,” he said.
The game was suspended Friday evening with Menno up 3-0 after four innings, but the decision was then made to resume the game Saturday — a move that required the Mad Frogs to head home and then drive back Saturday.
“We knew we’d be three guys short, and we had some guys who were upset,” manager Ryan Liebl said. Menno was without starters Kyler Pekarek, Tate Bruckner and Zach Scott for Saturday’s action.
“We just had to deal with it; it is what it is,” Liebl said.
As Menno made its way back to Mitchell (but over at Drake Field, across the lot from Cadwell Park), the question became: Would Oplinger return to the mound?
“We were concerned with our pitching, because we didn’t know if Macon could go back out there,” Liebl said.
Oplinger quickly returned to form, and he allowed one hit with four strikeouts in Saturday’s four innings. In total, he surrendered three hits and struck out seven batters in the eight-inning game.
Menno tacked on four runs in the sixth inning on Saturday to lead 7-0, and then added two runs in the seventh. In the bottom of the eighth inning, the Mad Frogs closed the game with an RBI single by Tyler Edler.
“We had a mindset to get going early and not let them back in it,” Liebl said.
For Menno, the hassle of the weather delay proved to be worth the trouble, he added.
The victory advances Menno to Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. second round game against Garretson.
“Everyone knows their role on this team,” Liebl said, “and having depth really helps.”
The win was also a rare win for the Mad Frogs on the big stage: Menno had one state tournament victory this decade prior to Saturday’s win.
“It’s so tough to win here,” Oplinger said. “That’s why this is the best time of the year.”
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