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VFW baseball: New Ulm outlasts Worthington, 15-14

BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE Worthington’s Shawn Hurley connects for a leadoff double Friday night in a VFW baseball game against New Ulm in Luverne.

LUVERNE — The good news for Worthington is that it hit well enough to put 14 runs on the board and nearly overcome a deficit that was once as large as six runs Friday against New Ulm in its opening game of the Luverne Tournament.

The bad news: New Ulm hit well enough to score 15 runs and pick up a 15-14 VFW baseball victory on a walk-off single by Cooper Yackley despite making six errors in the ballgame. New Ulm scored at least one run in every inning.

“That’s the bad thing about it,” Worthington coach T.D. Hostikka said. “In not one inning did we make them throw up a zero. That’s the frustrating part. But, we did hit well and stay playing hard even when we were down, so I appreciate that effort.”

Worthington trailed 9-3 with two outs in the top of the fifth when Mason Ellenbecker ripped a two-run single to plate Eli Gaul and Tory Rogers. New Ulm responded with a single run in the bottom of the inning to hold a 10-5 lead going into the sixth.

That’s when things got wild.

Two New Ulm errors, two walks and a hit batsman opened the door to a Worthington rally. Gaul and Brian Morales both provided a single to the big inning that saw Worthington score five runs and tie things up at 10-10. New Ulm briefly reclaimed the lead when a Yackley single with two outs in the home half sent a runner across to set things up at 11-10 at the start of the final frame.

Shawn Hurley opened the inning with his fourth hit of the night. Tucker Sorenson followed with an infield single to set the table for Easton Sauerbrei, who came through with a two-run single to center that gave Worthington its first lead of the night at 12-11. Gaul later added his fourth hit and, with Sauerbrei and King Blanchette racing home, it was New Ulm looking at a 14-11 disadvantage.

“We had to bunt and execute late in the game to come back, and we did,” Hostikka said. “At the same time, we had some early baserunning mistakes that put us into that hole. You can’t afford to fall behind like that against a team like New Ulm.”

Morales, who was solid in his first two innings of relief work, retired the first batter of the seventh but ran into trouble after that. Two walks sandwiched around a bean ball chased him from the hill in favor of Sorenson. He walked the first two men he faced, allowing New Ulm to get within one with the winning run on second.

Yackley, who finished the game 5-for-6 with four RBIs, sent a base hit up the middle with two outs. Both runners came home, giving New Ulm the dramatic victory.

Sorenson took the loss for Worthington, allowing two earned runs on one hit in one-third of an inning. Nate Russell went four innings in the start, surrendering nine runs — six earned — on 11 hits and striking out three. Only one of the four runs Morales allowed was earned as he struck out one in two and one-third innings.

Hurley finished the night 4-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Gaul was 4-for-5 with two runs scored. Sauerbrei added a 3-for-4, two run, two RBI performance.

Worthington (5-5 overall) will take on the loser of Friday’s late game between Pipestone and Crooks, S.D., at 10 a.m. today at the Luverne High School field.

“That’s the good thing about baseball,” Hostikka said. “I’ll be mad about it the longest of anyone, but we’ll be back at full strength and have a chance to get after it again tomorrow.”


Wor 002 125 4 — 14 16 3

New Ulm 212 411 4 — 15 16 6

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

(507) 376-7335