It was a situation that called for a clutch hit. And Tyler Johnson was only too happy to deliver. Johnson lined a three-run homer over the left field fence in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift Hamline's baseball team to a 5-4 win over North Central in its first game this season at Midway Stadium. It capped a big day for the top three hitters in the HU order. Between them, Joe Rubbelke, Jordan Rubbelke and Johnson went 8-for-13, scored three runs and knocked in four.
Down 4-3, Joe Rubbelke, who had three hits and two walks, singled to left with one out. Jordan Rybbelke then dumped a fly to right for a single. Johnson followed by hitting the first pitch he saw on a line over the left field fence for the winning runs.
Hamline slashed out 13 hits in all. Ben Richardson had two singles and Andy King slapped his fifth triple of the season.
Casey Benford (2-0) allowed just two runs on three hits in six innings of relief to gain the win for the Pipers, who improved to 10-15 overall on the season. Hamline, the defending MIAC postseason champs, is 1-5 in league play. They travel to Macalester Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. doubleheader.
North Central boxscore