WHS BASEBALL: Trojans win openerWORTHINGTON — In the season-opening game for both teams Tuesday afternoon, it was a combination of five Trojan pitchers coupled with an eight-run first inning that led Worthington to a 10-0 five-inning victory over the Southwestern United Wildcats in a non-conference baseball contest at the Middle School field.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — In the season-opening game for both teams Tuesday afternoon, it was a combination of five Trojan pitchers coupled with an eight-run first inning that led Worthington to a 10-0 five-inning victory over the Southwestern United Wildcats in a non-conference baseball contest at the Middle School field.
Nathan Jensen, Lucas Henning, Deron Soderholm, Jon Reller and Nathan Ray each pitched one inning for the Trojans and combined to allow three hits and two walks, while striking out 10 Wildcat batters in the win.
“That was our goal going into the game; to get rid of some of the early season jitters,” WHS head coach Stacy Sauerbrei said. “We wanted to see how many guys we could get on the mound and give them each a chance, so we just had them pitch one inning each.”
Jensen started the game for WHS and got into trouble early by giving up a lead-off single to Justin Jass (2-for-3) to start the game followed by a walk to Erik Jass (1-for-2).
However, Jensen struck out the next two batters and then got a force out at second to bring the Trojan bats to the plate in the home half of the inning.
Henning (2-for-3) opened the bottom of the first with a lead-off walk on four pitches off of SWU starter Jacob Post (three earned runs) and Tyler Hatterman quickly brought Henning home by roping an RBI-double down the line into the left-field corner to make it 1-0.
Hatterman (2-for-4) then stole third as Blake Rogers (1-for-2) drew a free pass, but a Wildcat throwing error allowed Hatterman to score and Rogers moved all the way to third base on the play.
Tyler Verdoorn drove Rogers home by reaching on an error to make it 3-0 before SWU recorded the first out of the inning.
Tanner Rogers (1-for-2) then plated Verdoorn, who had stolen second, with an RBI-single to left, which was followed by Deron Soderholm’s sacrifice bunt to move Tanner Rogers into scoring position.
“We hit a lot of first-pitch strikes, I think,” Tanner Rogers said. “They didn’t help themselves in the field very much, but we will take what we can get. If they aren’t going to field it, we aren’t going to complain.”
Following a walk to Eric Koob, Jensen (1-for-3) drove home both Tanner Rogers and Koob (1-for-1) with a two-run double to make it 6-0 as the Trojans moved back to the top of the order.
Jensen came around to score on a slicing double into left-center field by Henning followed by Hatterman’s second hit and RBI of the inning to score Henning as the score went to 8-0.
Another walk to Blake Rogers ended Post’s day as SWU brought in Riley Place to finish the inning.
In that big first inning, WHS used five hits and four walks along with a pair of Wildcat errors for the eight-run lead.
“Postie was a little nervous and it was the first game of the year so you’re going to have them first-inning jitters,” SWU assistant head coach Blaise Jacobsen said. “I may have let him go a little too long but I wanted to show that I had confidence in him. Riley came in and shut the door. He did a great job and only gave up one run (unearned). Then Aaron (Fest) came in and looked really good out there. His curveball looked good and he did a nice job of shutting them down.”
After finishing the first inning, Place went on to pitch two more innings and allowed one unearned run on one hit, while striking out three.
In fact, Place pitched a perfect third inning, aided by a pair of nice plays at shortstop by Luke Henkels, while Fest came in in the fourth to toss a perfect inning before allowing a one-out double to Henning in the fifth and a two-out double to Blake Rogers that scored Henning to end the game at 10-0.
Fest displayed a sharp breaking ball in his time on the hill and recorded the first out in each the fourth and fifth inning by striking out the Trojan batters looking with his curveball.
Meanwhile, the Trojans pitchers were combining to shutout the Wildcats.
Henning worked around a one-out walk to Place in the second by striking out the side followed by Soderholm pitching around back-to-back singles by Justin and Erik Jass to lead off the third.
Reller came in to pitch a perfect fourth with a pair of strikeouts followed by a perfect fifth inning for Ray, who also struck out a pair.
“I think that early on, we were a little nervous and that was why we had some difficulty throwing strikes,” Sauerbrei said. “But later on we settled in. Jon Reller came in and threw hard and had control. Nathan Ray, in his first varsity action, also came in and did a good job for us.”
Both teams return to action next week as SWU (0-1) moves into Red Rock Conference action on Tuesday with a game at Lamberton against Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove, while WHS (1-0) heads into the Southwest Conference schedule with a game at Jackson County Central on April 12 and a doubleheader at Windom on April 13.
With three games in two days, the Trojans won’t have the luxury of using a pitcher per inning next week but Sauerbrei was pleased he was able to get most of his pitchers some work in the opener.
“That’s why we do this early in the season,” the coach added. “Get as many guys as you can an inning early in the season and the second time around they should be ready to go.”
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SWU 000 00 — 0 3 6
WHS 810 01 — 10 8 0