WORTHINGTON CUBS: Munkel Ks 16, Cubs win opener 8-2
WORTHINGTON -- Adam Munkel was electric on the mound for the Worthington Cubs Sunday night in the return to First Nite League for the local nine.
The rookie right-hander displayed superb command of all of his pitches and struck out 16 Lakefield Horned Frog batters over seven strong innings to lead the Cubs to an 8-2 season-opening win.
Sunday night's opener was Worthington's first amateur baseball game since 2005 and also the inaugural game for the Lakefield team.
"It feels good, I was feeling great," Munkel said following Sunday's outing. "My arm felt wonderful [Sunday night]. The Cubs backed me up pretty good and got some hits and scored some runs. It's a good way to start the season off."
Munkel struck out at least one batter in each inning, including striking out the side in the first, fourth and seventh innings. He allowed one run on three hits and three walks before giving way to Cubs reliever Mitchell Jensen (one unearned run on two hits, one walk and three strikeouts in the final two innings) after 119 pitches to start the eighth inning.
"Better than I expected," Cubs' player/manager Josh Wasmund said of Munkel's effort. "I expected him to be in the zone and having guys putting balls in play. I didn't expect that [performance] and that was awesome.
"He was locating very well, mixing it up and had guys off balance all night."
Munkel definitely kept the opponents off balance, as he faced the minimum and was perfect through the first three innings.
Meanwhile, Worthington spotted its pitcher three runs in the home half of the first.
Following a one-out walk to Wasmund and a single by Jensen (2-for-5), Munkel (2-for-4) helped his own cause by plating Wasmund with a two-out single to right for the game's first run.
Toby Kerkaert made it 2-0 when his RBI single to center scored Jensen and following a walk to Jared Kinley, a bases loaded walk to Josh Erickson forced the inning's third run home.
The Cubs would tack on a run in each of the next four innings, while the Horned Frogs managed to get to Munkel with a run in the fourth.
Jerrad Meinders put the Cubs ahead 4-0 in the second when his RBI fielder's choice plated Joey Kinley (2-for-5), who led off the inning with a single and then stole second and third.
Jared Kinley scored in the third when Joey Kinley ran out an infield single to make it 5-0 for the hosts.
Lakefield finally managed to get to the Cubs' pitcher in the fourth when Evan Tufvesson (2-for-4) reached on a bunt single to lead off the fourth and then scored after a single by Brock Thaemlitz, a walk to Trevon Bargfrede and an RBI walk to Bryce Christopher (1-for-2 with a double) to make it 4-1.
However, the Cubs got that run back in the bottom half of the inning when Jensen singled, moved to second on an error and stole third before scoring on a throwing error to make it 6-1 after four.
Nate Jensen made it 7-1 in the fifth when his double to the right-center gap plated Erickson (lead-off single) and the Cubs wrapped up their scoring in the seventh when Joey Kinley reached on a two-out error and scored when Wasmund reached on an error.
"We worked the count, got guys on base and then got hits with runners on and that's huge," Wasmund said of Worthington's approach at the plate.
The Horned Frogs plated their final run in the eighth when Tufvesson singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on the hosts' lone error of the contest.
Tyler Rettig, who had a single for Lakefield in the seventh, started on the hill for the visitors and took the loss over the first three innings, while Thaemlitz worked the middle three innings in relief and Bargfrede tossed the final two frames.
While the result wasn't what Lakefield had hoped for in its initial league contest, manager Jon Thaemlitz was pleased with the effort.
"We did OK," the Horned Frogs' manager said. "We are pretty inexperienced with a couple of college kids. First time through the lineup, we didn't do very well, but after that we made contact. It was a good first outing. You want the kids to have fun and that's the main thing."
With the win under Worthington's belt, Wasmund was pleased with the outcome and the return of the Cubs to the amateur baseball scene, adding "We had a lot of fun [Sunday night] and we're glad to be back out here."
Both teams return to action Sunday as the Windom Pirates host Worthington and Lakefield in a doubleheader at Island Park.
The Cubs play the Pirates at 2 p.m. followed by the Horned Frogs in the nightcap at 5 p.m.
R H E
Lakefield 000 100 010 -- 2 5 7
Worthington 311 110 10X -- 8 9 1