LEGION BASEBALL: Worthington holds on against Lakefield
WORTHINGTON -- The action during a baseball game is usually focused at home plate, but Tuesday's legion game between Worthington and Lakefield was likely decided by a play at third base.
With Lakefield trailing 4-1 and down to its final two outs, Evan Tufveson lined a single to left field that got past Worthington leftfielder Adam Munkel, allowing Tanner Asa to score from second and Joel Hartzler (1-for-3, two runs) to score from first.
Tufveson headed for third on the play, but was just beaten by the relay for the crucial second out, allowing Worthington to escape with a 4-3 victory.
"It was a perfect relay," Worthington head coach Todd Rogers said. "If you don't get him at third he's going to probably score eventually, because you've got one out yet with a guy on third."
The Horned Frogs had managed only three hits in the first five innings off of Worthington starter Munkel (four innings pitched, three hits, four strikeouts) and reliever Jon Reller (one inning pitched, one strikeout), but rallied with a run in the sixth inning before the drama in seventh.
A different result in the play at third base would likely have allowed the Horned Frogs to complete the comeback.
"That's the runner's call," Lakefield head coach Trevon Bargfrede said of Tufveson's decision to head for third. "He did what's he's got to do. He thought the cutoff was going home, but he stopped and went to third."
Lakefield starter Bryce Christopher (six innings pitched, four runs, eight hits, two strikeouts) didn't allow Post 5 to amass much offense over the first four innings. Worthington scored its only run over the stretch in the second, when Mitch Jensen led off with a single and scored on an RBI-groundout by Tommy Hayenga (1-for-3, RBI, run, stolen base).
However, Post 5 took control of the game with a three-run fifth inning.
Hayenga beat out a grounder to lead off the inning, stole second and advanced to third by tagging up on a fly out by Reller.
Tyler Stugelmeyer (1-for-2, RBI, run) knocked Hayenga in with a bloop single to right field.
"I wasn't picturing a blooper," Stugelmeyer said. "The pitcher, he had a bunch of different curve balls. He just threw a curve ball and kind of got me off balance, and I just went with it and blooped it over the second baseman."
Stugelmeyer advanced to second as the throw was sent home in an attempt to catch Hayenga, erasing the chance of a double play when Justin Larson grounded out in the next at bat.
Joey Kinley drove in Stugelmeyer with a single to make the score 3-0 and eventually came around to score on a bases-loaded walk to Stuart Rogers.
It was the only bad inning by Christopher, though Worthington's small ball made the inning much tougher for him.
"In the times I've pitched before, when you see guys getting unearned extra bases it just kind of gets you a little bit frustrated and then you get thinking, and that gets in your head and it's hard to get back and focus," Stugelmeyer said. "We've got a good ball team, everybody's fast and got good speed, and we do that a lot. We play some small ball, get extra bases when we can and just kind of get in the pitchers' head and it works out for us."
Nate Jensen (two innings pitched, one earned run, four hits, one strikeout) came on in relief for Post 5 in the sixth inning. He allowed an unearned run in the inning when Hartzler led off by reaching on an error, eventually scoring on a single by Christopher (2-for-3, RBI) after another error allowed him to advance to third.
Jensen was also on the mound for the seventh inning.
"Nate Jensen did a good job pitching and a good job staying focused and getting that behind him, those unearned couple of runs," Stugelmeyer said. "It affects you in that play, but the next pitch everyone on the team is over it and that next pitch is all that matters."
Lucas Henning led the Worthington offense with a 2-for-4 day at the plate.
Despite the late errors, Todd Rogers was impressed by what he saw out of his team in the game.
"I thought we played real well," Rogers said. "The pitching was great. We played a very good squad from Lakefield there, we had a couple miscues and they scored a couple runs, but they're a good team.
"We hit the ball good, we did what we were supposed to do. We had good defense going, it's just when we had an error they scored on it, that's the way it seemed. The pitching was great for us, all three of them, they did a good job."
Bargfrede praised his team for digging deep late in the game to create such a tight finish.
"We've been hitting pretty good," Bargfrede said. "Today was kind of a slow day. We put some hits together at the end, the bottom of the order got us going the last inning. We thought we had it, but I guess it happened the way it did."
Dustin Pronk, Ty Schwarting and Nolan Luhmann (double) all had a hit for the Horned Frogs.
Lakefield (4-3) resumes a busy week with a doubleheader in Blue Earth on Thursday and a home doubleheader against Slayton on Friday.
Worthington (6-2) will compete at a tournament in Rochester on Friday and Saturday, likely playing four games. The team's first game is Friday at 5 p.m. against a team from Canada.
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Lakefield 000 001 2 -- 3 7 0
Worth. 010 030 X -- 4 8 3