MW BASEBALL: Bluejays lose to Yellowjackets in doubleheader, 8-6 and 4-2WORTHINGTON — On a breezy Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota West Bluejays and the Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets treated the fans to the tune of four long balls.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — On a breezy Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota West Bluejays and the Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets treated the fans to the tune of four long balls.
However, it was the Yellowjackets sweeping the day’s Southern Divison baseball action with an 8-6 win in an eight-inning first game followed by a 4-2 final in the second game.
In a back-and-forth opener, Alex Peterson’s solo home run tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second inning to provide the Bluejays with a spark. MW claimed a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning and then responded to three-run fifth inning by RCTC with three runs in the sixth to retake the lead at 6-5 after six innings.
Unfortunately for the local nine, the visitors received a game-tying blast from Ryan Lester to force extra innings and then Jackson County Central-alumnus Trevon Bargfrede won the game in the eighth with a two-run shot.
In the second game, the teams battled to a 2-2 score after one inning, but RCTC received the go-ahead run in the second inning and an insurance run off a home run from Matt Feichtner in the sixth.
Following a long road trip to Brainerd and a pair of close losses (6-2 and 6-4) to Central Lakes on Tuesday, MW head coach Jeff Linder was pleased with how the Bluejays competed Wednesday.
“The guys played hard against a very good Rochester team,” Linder said. “I’ve got to give them credit. The one thing they worked on was to not let what has happened in the past bother them. Just go out there and play baseball like in the backyard. I thought they came out with a great attitude and did a super job for us.”
After falling into an early 2-0 hole in the opener, the Bluejays answered with a run in the bottom of the first.
Mitchell Jensen drew a one-out walk and following a base hit from Adam Munkel, Jensen crossed the plate on an RBI single from Stuart Rogers to cut the RCTC lead in half.
Peterson tied the game in the bottom of the second after MW starting pitcher Shane Schoborg worked around a pair of Yellowjacket hits in the top half of the inning.
“It felt good off the bat,” Peterson explained. “We just got a new bat because our other bat broke the other day and I decided to use the new bat.”
Peterson’s home run traveled an estimated 342 feet over the left-field fence and pumped some life into the Bluejays.
“That lifted our spirts,” Linder said of the Peterson home run.
Schoborg cruised through the third and fourth innings, while the bats provided him with the lead in the fourth when Eric Wieneke tripled with one out and scored on Peterson’s second RBI of the game.
However, RCTC quickly recaptured the lead at 5-3 in the fifth with three runs on three hits, while aided by three MW errors.
Sean Hohmeister had the big hit for the Yellowjackets as he singled home two runs.
The Bluejays broke through with a three-run inning of their own in the sixth to take a 6-5 lead into the seventh.
Jacob Laverman hit a one-out double to score Wieneke, who led off the inning with a single, to cut the lead to one run followed by a double from Nate Bierman to tie the game.
Joey Kinley put the Bluejays back in front with a two-out single up the middle to score Bierman from second base.
The Bluejays went to the bullpen in the top half of the seventh as Munkel came on in relief of Schoborg.
Unfortunately, the first pitch Munkel threw was drilled over the center-field fence by Lester to tie the game at 6-6.
MW couldn’t get anything in the bottom of the seventh and Bargfrede delivered the game winner for RCTC in the top of the eighth.
Following a lead-off single by Mitch Sellers, the Yellowjackets moved the runner into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.
Bargfrede, who had doubled twice earlier in the game and finished 3-for-4 in the opener, followed and lifted an opposite-field home run over the right-center field fence to give the visitors the opening-game win.
“I just came out here relaxed (Wednesday). I hit the ball good finally,” Bargfrede said. “We all hit the ball good in these two games to pick up two nice wins. Our pitchers did really nice and worked the strike zone. Even on the other side, they had a few good pitchers, but we just countered them and hit off them when we needed to.”
The Bluejays were unabled to answer in the bottom of the eighth as they went down in order to end the game.
“Our pitching and our defense have been solid,” Linder said. “We needed to get some timely hits and over the course of the year, we’ve lost some of those extra inning games. We went into extra innings again (Wednesday) and we just didn’t get any runs pushed in.”
Schoborg took the loss for MW as he retook the mound in the eighth and gave up six earned runs on 13 hits and no walks, while striking out three during his two stints on the hill that spanned seven innings.
Tommy Paulson earned the win for the Yellowjackets as he worked the final 2 1/3 innings in relief of Bryce Christopher.
Christopher, also a JCC alumus, started for RCTC and allowed six earned runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batter, while striking out six in 5 2/3 innings.
The night cap looked to be another high-scoring game as both squads scored two runs in the first inning, but settled into a pitcher’s duel after that.
Matt Contreras put RCTC ahead 2-0 in the top of the first with a two-run single that scored Aric Jacquardt and Feichtner, which MW answered in the bottom of the first as Kinley and Jensen drew back-to-back walks to start the inning.
A wild pitch moved the both runners into scoring position and Munkel tied the game with a two-RBI single to center field.
However, the Yellowjackets answered with the eventual game-winning run in the second as Ivan Augedahl drew a lead-off walk and scored on an RBI single from Angel Talamantes.
Neither side scored another run until Feichtner concluded the day’s scoring with his home run, which landed on top of the batting cage beyond the left-field fence, and gave RCTC an insurance run.
“The guy that hit the home run off me hit a curveball and the kid that hit the home run to win the first game hit a curve ball,” Wieneke, who started the second game for MW, said. “They sat on the off-speed and didn’t really jump on fastballs. That was something that Coach (Jeff) Rogers and Coach Linder noticed.”
Garrett Walters, the Game 2 starter for RCTC, scattered three more MW hits the rest of the way to pick up the win with two earned runs on four hits and three walks, while striking out seven in six innings of work. Josiah Zielke earned the save for the Yellowjackets by striking out two batters in a perfect seventh inning.
Meanwhile, Wieneke took the loss for the Bluejays and was solid despite the shaky start where he gave up three runs on three walks and two hits over the first two innings.
Wieneke pitched six innings and allowed four earned runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out three. Jensen pitched a perfect seventh for the Bluejays with one strikeout.
“All their guys pitched very well,” RCTC head coach Steve Hucke said. “I was impressed with how they threw strikes and kept us off balance. Our guys kept their noses in it and kept battling to get a couple of clutch hits. We used the wind a little bit for a couple of them and it helped us get the wins.”
The Yellowjackets improve to 15-15 overall with the two wins and move to 4-2 in the division. RCTC hosts Western Techical College for a non-league doubleheader today.
The Bluejays drop to 1-16 overall and return to action Saturday when they travel to Willmar to play Ridgewater.
While the close losses seem to piling up on MW, Linder is pleased with how his squad has continued to battle.
“I’m real proud of the guys,” Linder said. “As tough as they’ve had it all year, we’ve played with everybody. We’ve been so close and we just haven’t been able to get over the hump, but the guys continue to play hard and that’s all that anyone can ask.”
Game 1 R H E
RCTC 200 030 12 – 8 15 0
MW 110 103 00 – 6 10 3
Game 2 R H E
RCTC 210 001 0 – 4 5 1
MW 200 000 0 – 2 4 0