Post 3958 scores in bunches
WILMONT — Scoring in every inning Thursday evening and effectively countering a strong fifth-inning rally by Luverne, Worthington VFW Post 3958 claimed a 14-4 victory at fabled Butts Probst Field and advanced in the winner’s bracket of the 12-team District 3 playoffs.
Fourth-seeded Worthington (19-13) faces top-seeded Pipestone (26-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday at Legion Field in Marshall.
Pipestone defeated Sacred Heart, 11-1, in five innings at Pipestone Thursday.
Luverne plays Sacred Heart at 10 a.m. Saturday in an elimination game in Marshall.
After scoring once in each of the first three innings and tacking on two more runs in the bottom of the fourth, Post 3958 held a 5-1 lead on fifth-seeded Luverne — which had defeated Redwood Falls 17-0 in its tournament opener and also owned an early-season 16-6 win over Worthington.
Luverne — which scored first in Thursday’s game when leadoff batter Connor Hoffman reached on an error, stole second, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Tommy Vajgrt and crossed the plate on a well-hit RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Andrew Verhey (2-for-3) – was held in check by Worthington pitcher Luke Drooger over innings two, three and four.
But in the top of the fifth, Luverne rallied with three consecutive one-out RBI hits.
After Connor Sandbulte reached base on an error to start the frame, Worthington center fielder Logan Thuringer caught a deep fly off the bat of Hoffman.
Vajgrt crushed an RBI double, scoring Sandbulte and then raced home himself on a sharp RBI single up the middle by Verhey.
Connor Crabtree followed suite with a run-scoring single to the gap in right center field, plating Verhey in a close play at the plate.
Drooger, however, induced a fly out to left fielder Nate Russell and a ground out to shortstop Roque Soto to end the inning.
Worthington – which smacked 13 hits, including a trio of triples – answered with an impressive two-out rally of its own in the bottom of the inning.
Thuringer (2-for-5, three runs, two RBI) drew a two-out walk, which was duplicated by catcher Carson Hagen (2-for-4, two runs).
Soto (2-for-2, four runs, three RBI), who had drawn three consecutive walks, unloaded a triple which plated both Thuringer and courtesy runner King Blanchette.
Holding a 7-4 lead, Post 3958 wasn’t finished yet.
First baseman Trevor Wietzema (4-for-5) scored Soto with an RBI single to center and Wietzema crossed the plate on Russell’s second RBI single of the game.
“That was impressive how we came back and hit the ball so well and put the pressure back on Luverne after they had scored those three runs to come within one,” exclaimed Worthington coach T.D. Hostikka, who noted that Post 3958 had stranded 27 runners in scoring position over its last five games. “We were hitting line shots.”
Luverne coach Mike Wenninger agreed, saying:
“That’s a sign of a good team. We score three runs to make it a close game and they come back and score four times – after we had two outs on them.”
With a five-run lead, Drooger – aided by a great catch by Thuringer – kept Luverne from scoring in the sixth.
“He has good command of his pitches and had five very good innings for us,” praised Hostikka about Drooger, who issued just two walks and hit only one batter, while striking out seven – three in the second inning. “Not giving many free passes was huge.”
Worthington ended the game early via the 10-run rule by plating five more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
A sharp single by Oliver Wolyniec was followed by a walk to Joe Pavelko.
Thuringer, who had scored Worthington’s second inning run by hustling around the bases on a trio of Luverne errors after striking out, delivered a two-run triple up against the right field fence.
Hagen’ RBI double was followed by Soto’s second RBI triple of the game, making the score 13-4.
Luverne fielded a hard-hit ball off the bat of Wietzema and tried to gun down Soto at the plate – but the throw was not in time, giving Worthington its 10-run win.
R H E
Luverne 100 030 — 4 5 6
Wgtn 111 245 — 14 13 4
Pipestone 11, Sacred Heart 1
PIPESTONE —Justin Rops pitched five strong innings and doubled in the bottom of the fifth to end the game as Pipestone rolled past Sacred Heart in five innings.
Pipestone, 26-2, outhit Sacred Heart 10-2.
Rops didn’t walk a batter and struck out five. Derick Sommers, one of four Sacred Heart pitchers, was charged with the loss.
Dominic Freese had three hits to pace the winners, and he also drove in three runs. Rops doubled twice in the game and drove in three runs of his own. Jacoby Hunt added two hits.
Pipestone coach Rick Zollner said he’s confident his Pipestone team, with its strong record and dominating performance against Sacred Heart, won’t get overconfident Saturday against a Worthington team that he said presents a hefty challenge.
“I think our guys are pretty grounded. We’ve played a lot of games and we try to play every game one game at a time,” he said.
Throughout the year, Pipestone has shown solid batting skills, Zollner said. But the key has been a deep pitching staff, which has positioned the team well this summer in doubleheaders.
“What’s keyed us all year is we have six really good pitchers,” said the coach.
R H E
SHeart 010 00 — 1 2 3
Pipe 226 01 — 11 10 1