Prep baseball: Trojans trip Windom Area twice
WORTHINGTON — Twice rallying with clutch late-game hits, the Worthington Trojans won a pair of Southwest Conference high school baseball games Friday on their home field at the Middle School athletic complex, defeating Highway 60 rival Windom by a single run in each game of a doubleheader.
In the first game, Worthington trailed 9-5 after five innings. But the Trojans were able to plate three runs in the bottom of the sixth and then won the game 10-9 when sophomore Nathan Braaksma delivered a two-run single scoring both Ryan Lee and Torey Rogers (pinch running for Trevor Wietzema) with the tying and winning runs.
Later, after surrendering a 5-4 edge by allowing the Eagles a pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth in the nightcap, the Trojans utilized a walk and four hits in the top of the seventh to claim a 7-6 advantage and then closed the door on a Windom counter rally when Lee worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the frame.
“These were two very closely-contested games with several lead changes,” declared Worthington head coach Stacy Sauerbrei. “To come out on top both times was a good accomplishment for our young squad. Windom has a good team and is well-coached, so I was pleased with the pride and mental toughness that our guys showed by not folding and coming back the way we did in each game.”
The twin victories by the Trojans keep them undefeated on the new season (3-0), while the Eagles are now 1-2.
“These two games were terrific learning experiences for us,” exclaimed Windom head coach Brad Schlomann. “Early in the season, the wins and losses are not as important as how you play the game and what you learn about reacting to situations. That’s what I love about playing in this conference (Southwest), you get great competition like this every game. I was proud of how we played and was especially pleased with our aggressive base running, which was great.”
The Eagles, who defeated Jackson County Central 8-4 in their opening game Tuesday, produced several big innings Friday and received solid contributions from many players. Windom, like Worthington, has lots of new players performing at the varsity level this spring.
“Give Worthington a bunch of credit for sticking with it after getting down and not giving in,” stressed Schlomann about the Trojans. “The same goes for us. Our kids continued to battle back, too, and we played the game of baseball the right way. We need to — and will — improve our late-game situations. But these were sure two fun baseball games for both teams.”
Clutch pitching by Russell
gives Trojans chance to rally
Aided by 10 walks issued by Worthington pitchers, Windom opened up leads of 1-0, 5-4 and 9-5 in the opener before the Trojans scored the game’s final five runs.
A key part of Worthington’s rally was the pitching performance of sophomore Nate Russell, who was the third of four throwers used by Sauerbrei.
“Nate was really clutch,” summed up Sauerbrei. “It was his first time ever pitching in a varsity game and he came in and righted the ship for us, throwing strikes and allowing our defense to make plays.”
Russell tossed three-and-a-third innings before giving way to Carsen Hagen (two-and-a third) who completed a stellar day for the Trojans by striking out a pair of Eagles with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh.
Hagen had earlier crushed a lead-off home run to start Worthington’s half of the fourth inning.
Before that, a three-run triple by Lee had sparked a four-run bottom of the first for the Trojans and the Eagles had countered with four runs in the top of the second, highlighted by back-to-back RBI doubles by Sam Huska and Bryton Syverson.
Leading 6-5 after five, Windom stretched its lead to four by aggressively running the bases in the sixth and seventh frames, scoring three runs on just one hit.
Worthington’s two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth started with an infield hit by Blake Fauske, who later advanced and scored after a pair of errors put both Russell and Logan Thuringer on base. Alex Purdy ripped his second double of the game, plating two more runs.
In the seventh, Lee reached base on an Eagle error and Wietzema knocked a double off the left-field fence, setting up Braaksma’s game-winning hit.
Devin Nielsen, Taylor Quiring and Jack Mellstrom did the pitching for the Eagles.
“After Devin gave up four first-inning runs, he pitched really well,” praised Schlomann. “Taylor and Jack both threw very well, too.”
A dandy sprawling catch by Fauske in right field was a defensive highlight for the Trojans in the third inning.
Braaksma delivers three hits
for the Trojans in nightcap,
Soto and Lee pitch well
There was plenty of good baseball action in the second game, including a trio of bunts for base hits by Windom’s Jacob Gotto and three solid hits, including a double, by Braaksma for the Trojans.
Roque Soto and Lee combined strong pitching performances for the Trojans and Zach Bartosh and Quiring worked well on the mound for the Eagles.
Windom was the home team for the second game and rallied several times after Worthington had earned leads of 2-0, 3-2, 4-2 and 5-4.
The Eagles took a 6-5 edge in the bottom of the sixth when both Andrew Larson (two hits) and Gotto scored on an infield error off the bat of Quiring.
Worthington responded with two runs in the top of the seventh. Thuringer’s speed allowed him to reach first base on an infield hit and after stealing second, he advanced to third on a well-placed bunt by Purdy who was also safe with a single. Purdy then stole his fifth base of the day and with runners on second and third and Windom’s infield drawn in, Soto delivered a two-run single scoring both Thuringer and Purdy.
Lee completed the sweep by inducing a ground out, notching a strikeout and getting a fly ball out to end the game.
Windom hosts Southwestern United in a non-conference game Monday and Worthington is back in Southwest Conference action at Luverne Tuesday.
R H E
Windom 140 101 2 —9 9 4
WHS 400 103 2 —10 8 1
R H E
WHS 210 101 2 — 7 8 3
Windom 020 202 0 — 6 6 1