Section baseball: Luverne taken out by Marshall
MARSHALL — Luverne may have sent Marshall to the elimination bracket last week, but it was the Tigers who dashed the Cardinals’ chance at a return trip to state.
After the two teams put forth a battle worthy of their fierce Southwest Conference rivalry for five and a half innings, a two-run sixth for Marshall proved to be the difference. Mason Campion drove in the game-winning run on a single up the middle and Derek Rasmussen crossed for insurance. The result was a 4-2, season-ending loss for the defending Class AA consolation champion Cardinals.
“Any time you end your season with a loss, it’s going to hurt,” Luverne coach Mike Wenninger said. “Last year we got to end with a win, so that was quite a bit different.”
In the pivotal bottom of the sixth, Noah Winkelman led off the inning with a double. Rasmussen banged out his third hit of the night and stole second, putting runners on second and third for Campion who, earlier in the game, had driven in the tying run. This time he snuck a single up the middle of a drawn-in infield to plate Winkelman and give Marshall its first lead of the game at 3-2.
The Cards threatened with three singles in the top of the seventh, but two crucial miscues on the basepaths led to a pair of outs and the game ended in disappointment.
“Marshall’s a good conference opponent and Drew (Hmielewski)’s a good pitcher,” Wenninger said.
“Sometimes you just have to have the cards fall your way and tonight we didn’t.”
Luverne caught all the breaks in the top of the first, however. Connor Hoffman, the first batter of the game, hit a towering flyball to left. Marshall’s left fielder appeared to have it measured, but the ball dropped behind him and Hoffman reached on a double. He eventually scored the first run of the night on a one-out, Tigers error.
Marshall answered in the home half of the second. Riley Sharbono legged out an infield single for his team’s first hit before stealing second to get into scoring position. Rasmussen knotted it up when he sent a Hoffman offering deep into the gap in left-center, driving Sharbono home with a double.
It didn’t take the Cardinals long to reclaim the lead. Back-to-back hits for Hoffman and Kendall Meyer pushed their second run of the ballgame across and heading into the fourth, it was 2-1 in favor of Luverne.
“We battled, but in a game like this the little things catch up with you,” Wenninger said. “We got great pitching and played good defense most of the game. But Marshall put pressure on our defense and when you do that, sometimes the defense doesn’t answer back.”
True to form, the Tigers eventually mirrored their opponents.
With two outs in the fourth, Rasmussen ripped his second hit of the game. After he stole second, Campion blooped a Texas Leaguer down the left field line. Rasmussen was off on contact and scored easily to set the score at 2-2.
After the third, Marshall pitcher Drew Hmielewski dug in. He allowed just one baserunner — a two-out walk in the fourth — until Luverne dropped in its three singles in the seventh.
Meyer went all six in the loss for Luverne. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits, struck out five and didn’t walk anyone. Hmielewski also went the distance, giving up one earned run on six hits and fanning five.
Hoffman was 2-for-3 with two runs scored to lead Luverne at the plate. Meyer was 1-for-3 with an RBI.
Connor Crabtree, Andrew Verhey and Zane Hiller added a single each. Rasmussen was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI for the Tigers. Campion finished 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs.
“It hurts now, but we still had a very good season,” Wenninger said. “This is a great group of kids.”
R H E
Luverne 101 000 0 — 2 6 3
Marshall 010 102 x — 4 8 2