VFW BASEBALL: Worthington VFW claims opening-round playoff win
WORTHINGTON - Worthington Post 3958 and Sacred Heart combined to commit 14 errors in Thursday night's opening-round VFW baseball game at the Middle School field.
However, it was the locals that were able to overcome their miscues, battling back from an early deficit to claim a 10-6 win.
Following the top half of the first inning that saw the visitors plate four runs, the hosts scored two runs in each of the first two innings before claiming a lead for good with a three-run third inning.
SH used three hits and three Post 3958 errors to create the initial bulge. All of the visitor's damage came after the starting pitcher for the hosts, Tristan Sorenson, had recorded two outs.
"The first time through the order, we made some mistakes and they scored four runs," Post 3958 head coach T.D. Hostikka said. "That first inning was frustrating."
However, the hosts were able to cut the SH lead in half in the home half of the first.
Sorenson (2-for-4) opened the frame with a single to right and moved to third when Logan Thuringer (2-for-3, with two stolen bases) reached on a bunt single. After Thuringer stole second to give Post 3958 two runners in scoring position, Ryan Lee (1-for-4 with two RBIs) plated Sorenson for the first Post 3958 run, which was followed by Roque Soto (2-for-3 with three RBIs) lifting a sacrifice fly to center field to score Thuringer to make it 4-2 SH after an inning.
Sorenson calmed down after the sloppy first inning to work a 1-2-3 second inning to get the locals back to plate and his teammates responded by knotting the score.
Trevor Wietzema (1-for-4 with two RBIs) reached on an error to open the Post 3958 second inning and came around to score the third run when Nathan Braaksma's single got past the left fielder and rolled all the way to the fence. Braaksma (3-for-4 with two stolen bases) moved to third base on the error and later scored when Joe Pavelko walked and got caught up in a run down between first and second base, allowing Braaksma to steal home for the tying run.
"I told the kids after that first inning that we had seven at-bats, at worst, to get those runs back," Hostikka said. "To the kid's credit, we pecked away with two runs in the first and two more in the second to tie the game."
SH responded in the third to take a 5-4 lead, aided by a pair of Post 3958 errors, but Sorenson managed to escape the frame with no further damage.
"We could've kept the errors down, but we did a good job after some early mistakes," Wietzema said. "Tristan did a good job of not letting that get to him and we were able to score some runs for him."
Post 3958 quickly gave Sorenson a lead to work with a three-run third inning.
"We put the ball in play, got on base and scored runs," Soto said. "That's what we need to do.
"Tristan threw strikes and came back after a rough first inning. He battled through it and was able to get outs for us."
Thuringer and Lee started the frame with singles and both moved up a base on a double steal before Soto put Post 3958 in front with a booming triple into the right-center field gap after his at-bat was extended on a dropped foul ball. Carson Hagen plated Soto on a safety-squeeze bunt to give Post 3958 a 7-5 lead.
"If the guys work hard to get to third base, I'm going to work hard to get them in," Hostikka said. "Carson Hagen - bunting for his first time all year - did a great job to get it down and Roque Soto did a nice job of baserunning."
Singles by Braaksma and Pavelko had Post 3958 threatening later in the third, but the score remained at 7-5 until Sorenson singled to start the fourth and scored when Lee reached on in error to extend the lead to 8-5.
SH got that run back in the sixth to make it 8-6 before Post 3958 capped off the scoring with two runs of its own in the bottom of the sixth.
Wietzema delivered the big blow for Post 3958 in the sixth with a two-run triple to the right-center gap that scored Cole Dierks (stolen base) and Hagen. Dierks was pinch running for Soto, who along with Hagen, had reached on error.
"That was a nice hit by Trevor in the sixth to give us a cushion going into the seventh," Hostikka said. "That will really help him get some confidence in the box."
Lee entered the game in relief of Sorenson in the seventh and worked around a one-out walk to secure the 10-6 win for Post 3958.
Sorenson earned the win by allowing six runs (no earned) on six hits and a walk, while striking out five in six innings of work. The right hander struck out the side in order in the fourth.
"Tristan responded after that first inning," Hostikka said. "He only allowed them to manufacture a pair of runs their second, third and fourth times through the order. It was a real nice effort by Tristan."
Post 3958, which had seven stolen bases in the contest, improves to 24-10 on the season.
The club's next contest is Saturday in Marshall at 5 p.m.
R H E
SH 401 001 0 - 6 6 8
WGTN 223 102 X - 10 12 6