VFW BASEBALL: Worthington earns sweep against Slayton, LuverneWORTHINGTON — Aaron Pavelko wanted to find a hole somewhere. With a runner on third base and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning in Thursday’s VFW baseball game, all the Worthington second baseman needed was a hit. He delivered.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Aaron Pavelko wanted to find a hole somewhere.
With a runner on third base and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning in Thursday’s VFW baseball game, all the Worthington second baseman needed was a hit.
Pavelko hit a shot past the diving shortstop to score Tristan Sorenson from third base as Worthington earned a 5-4 victory against Luverne.
“I was nervous and hoping I would put it in play and hit a spot they wouldn’t be at,” Pavelko said. “I was hoping he would have to dive it at least. That would give me enough time to run there.”
Pavelko’s hit capped a pair of wins for Post 3958 on the night. In the first game, Worthington defeated Slayton 10-0.
Both Luverne and Worthington finish with a 9-1 league mark. However, it was Worthington which won the coin flip and is expected to be the first seed in the upcoming tournament. Luverne (16-7) will be the second seed.
Worthington (16-11) had an opportunity in the seventh inning to end the game after loading the bases with no outs.
Pavelko led off the inning with a double, AJ Hayenga followed with a single and Blake Rogers was intentionally walked to load the bases.
However, Luverne pitcher Reed Skattum pitched out of the jam with a pair of strikeouts and an out at home after a failed suicide squeeze.
“That’s a good job by Reed Skattum, our pitcher, who stayed composed and threw strikes,” Luverne head coach Mike Wenninger said.
But in the eighth, the outcome would be different.
With one out, Turner Hagen reached on a two-base error. Sorenson — who pinch ran for Hagen — went to third on a balk.
Skattum recorded a strikeout for the second out of the inning, brining Pavelko to the plate.
Pavelko, who was out at home on the failed squeeze play an inning earlier, made the most of his at-bat.
“It was pretty frustrating because we should have been able to get out of it (in the seventh),” Pavelko said. “I was real happy because we lost to them in extra innings in Luverne.”
Meanwhile, Worthington starter Todd Peterson was keeping Luverne off the scoreboard.
Luverne scored two runs in the first inning after an error led off the game.
Jonny Solma, who reached on the error, later scored on Matt Overgaard’s groundout for the first run of the game.
Skyler Wenninger, who walked, scored on a balk, giving Luverne a 2-0 lead.
Aided by a key double play in the second, Peterson cruised through the next three innings.
He did run into some trouble in the fifth.
Brett Heronimus was hit by a pitch and later scored on Solma’s triple, and Solma scored for the second time in the game on Skyler Wenninger’s RBI groundout, which gave Luverne a 4-2 lead.
However, those would be the final runs of the game Peterson would allow.
“I was a little out of control there in the middle innings and I didn’t get a lot of strikes,” Peterson said. “I battled through it and let me defense do the job behind me.”
Peterson allowed two earned runs on a mere two hits. He struck out 10 and allowed eight walks.
“I think we shut them out the last three innings and that’s huge,” Worthington head coach T.D. Hostikka said. “Again, they are a good hitting team, producing team, manufacturing team and we put up zeroes in key situations. One of them was a bases loaded strikeout.”
One of Peterson’s biggest strikeouts came in the sixth.
With the bases full of batters who drew walks and two outs, Peterson was facing Heronimus in a tie game.
Facing a 3-2 count, Peterson delivered a strike, getting out of the jam.
“I was just believing in my defense behind me and believing in myself that I could get that out and kept battling,” Peterson said. “I didn’t want to lose to these guys again.”
While Peterson was keeping Luverne’s offense at bay, there didn’t seem to be any stopping Worthington’s Rylan Scholtes.
Post 3958 didn’t record a hit in the first three innings, but broke out in a big way in the fourth.
Hayenga reached to lead off the inning, and later scored on Blake Rogers’ double.
Scholtes then hit a deep solo home run over the left-field fence, tying the score at 2-all.
But he wasn’t done yet.
Hagen drew a walk to lead off the fifth and Nate Ray followed with a single.
With two outs and runners on second and third, Rogers was intentionally walked to load the bases for Scholtes.
He delivered again, crushing a two-run double, tying the score at 4-all.
“I kept seeing it and was like, ‘Is it going to stay fair?’ And it’s a jack,” Hostikka said of Scholtes’ home run. “Then they walk Blake to load the bases to get to Rylan, who had already hit a home run. Then he crushes it to the fence again.”
Rogers was intentionally walked again in the seventh, but Skattum was able to retire Scholtes this time around.
“No offense to all the other hitters and no offense to their No. 4 hitter, but Blake Rogers is their best hitter,” Mike Wenninger said. “Runners on second and third with a base open, you take the chance at loading up and you now have a force at any base rather than having your only play at first. When he misses on his changeup, that kid hammered it and the second time it happened to help us. It’s part of the percentages. That’s all the credit in the world to Blake Rogers in saying that we’ll let somebody else beat us at this particular time. More power to Rylan that he came up twice with a home run once and a double. There’s a little egg on our face on that one.”
Luverne got out of the seventh unscathed and Peterson took care of Luverne in the eighth.
“(My arm) just keeps going, I guess,” Peterson said. “I want to win, so it just keeps going.”
And his team came through with the walk-off win.
“It feels really great,” Peterson said. “They beat us last time in a walk-off, so it feels good to get this win, too.”
Worthington will travel to Alexandria today for a three-day tournament. The playoffs will begin next week.
“It gives us confidence because we know we didn’t swing the bat that well tonight,” Peterson said. “I think I could pitch a little better, too. I think it will give us momentum going into the playoffs now.”
R H E
Luv. 200 020 00 — 4 2 1
Worth. 000 220 01 — 5 7 2
Worthington 10, Slayton 0
WORTHINGTON — A trio of pitchers combined to shut out Slayton while allowing one hit in a six-inning victory.
Blake Rogers started on the hill and allowed no hits while walking one and striking out three in two innings.
Aaron Pavelko threw the next three innings. He allowed one hit while walking one and striking out three.
Tyler Hatterman was on the hill for the final inning and recorded two strikeouts.
“The pitchers pitched well,” Worthington head coach T.D. Hostikka said. “Blake set the tone again and Pavelko came in and threw strikes. Hatterman threw strikes, so it was a nice job.”
Meanwhile, Post 3958 was taking advantage of nine walks and three hit batsmen in the game.
“That’s been kind of typical of our season,” Slayton head coach Dennis Anderson said. “We’ve been struggling with our pitching. If you can’t throw strikes, it’s hard to stay in games. We struggled with that.”
Slayton’s lone hit came in the third inning. Cole Bly singled and Seth Bass followed by drawing a walk to put two runners on with one out.
However, the next two batters were retired to end the threat.
Nick Petersen also drew a walk in the game, while Bly reached base in the fifth on an error.
Worthington was able to score twice in the first, four times in the second, twice in the fifth and two more in the sixth.
Pavelko led off the game by drawing a walk and later scored on a wild pitch.
AJ Hayenga followed with a bunt single and scored on an error, giving Worthington a 2-0 lead.
Tyler Hatterman scored in the second on a while pitch and Alex Purdy (running for Ryan Lee) scored on Nate Ray’s groundout, giving Worthington a 4-0 lead.
Blake Rogers hit a two-run triple to score both Turner Hagen and Hayenga to push the lead to 6-0.
“Scary things are when you are overlooking a team,” Hostikka said. “You know how tough Luverne is going to be. We had to take care of business. I talked to them in centerfield and I said, ‘Listen, we can’t look past Slayton. We have to put the pedal down, we have to score every inning and we have to put up zeros and do what we need to do.’ They responded.”
Rylan Scholtes was hit by a pitch and scored from first in the fifth and Hatterman drew a walk and later scored on an error to give Post 3958 an 8-0 lead.
“We ran the bases well,” Hostikka said. “We were pretty aggressive. I don’t know what we had for stolen bases, but we were pretty aggressive again.”
Rogers singled in the sixth, and Scholtes drew a walk to put two runners on with one out. Deron Soderholm drove in a run and Lee hit what proved to be the game-ending hit, giving Worthington a 10-0 lead.
Post 3958 managed six hits in the game, led by Rogers, who had two. Hayenga had a single, Soderholm had a single, Lee had a single and Purdy singled in the fifth for Worthington.
For Slayton (0-8), it was a chance to gain more experience for its young team.
“There’s some talent there and there are some players who can play the game,” Anderson said. “We’re really young. We have kids here where this is some of their first years and they have two or three years yet coming. That’s how young we are, so we’ll see what happens in the next years. Hopefully in playoffs we can get something together and see what happens.”
R H E
Slayton 000 000 — 0 1 3
Worth. 240 022 — 10 6 1