WHS BASEBALL: Hayenga hits winner in 8th to lift Trojans over Cardinals 3-2WORTHINGTON — Jon Reller and Blake Rogers turned in solid pitching performances Friday afternoon, and Tommy Hayenga delivered a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Worthington Trojans to an exciting 3-2 victory over the Fairmont Cardinals in a key non-conference high school baseball game.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Jon Reller and Blake Rogers turned in solid pitching performances Friday afternoon, and Tommy Hayenga delivered a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning to lift the Worthington Trojans to an exciting 3-2 victory over the Fairmont Cardinals in a key non-conference high school baseball game.
Hayenga, who was 3-for-4 and the game’s only player with multiple hits, drove in Nate Jensen from second base by cracking a one-out single into left field — keeping Worthington undefeated with a 4-0 overall record and handing Fairmont (4-1) its first loss of the season.
“This was a well-played and well-pitched ballgame by both teams,” summed up Fairmont head coach Todd Sukalski. “Worthington has a very solid ballclub with lots of good players and at least three quality pitchers. We saw two of their top pitchers today, as they held us to just three hits and two unearned runs.”
Fairmont, which went 23-3 last season and won the third-place game at the Class AA state tournament, is currently ranked fifth in this year’s state polls.
“Fairmont is a very good, well-coached team that does everything the right way,” Worthington head coach Stacy Sauerbrei said. “There are plenty of reasons why they are always one of the best teams in the area, and this is certainly a very good win for us. We pitched well, made the plays in the field and had some timely hitting, getting positive contributions from several kids and coming out on top in a fun game.”
Hayenga and Rogers (RBI) belted back-to-back doubles to begin the fourth inning, and Turner Hagen smacked a run-scoring infield single a bit later to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead midway through the game.
Meanwhile, Reller was doing the job on the mound. Reller allowed only a one-out single — which was erased by a 2-4 caught stealing play, Jensen to Eric Koob — in the first and faced the minimum 15 batters through five complete frames.
Reller worked 1-2-3 innings in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, fanning five batters, inducing five groundouts and getting two other batters to pop out in that span.
“Jon was sharp today and did a good job of getting ahead of just about every hitter,” Sauerbrei said. “He has been waiting awhile for his turn to take the mound, and he’s such a competitor out there. He gave us five strong innings, and then Blake came in and did a great job in relief.”
Fairmont scored its two runs in the top of the sixth, as Reller (5 2/3 innings, five strikeouts, two walks, two hits and two unearned runs) issued free passes to two of the first three batters he faced.
A Trojans’ error with two outs two batters later loaded the bases, and the Cardinals’ Levi Becker followed by cracking a two-run single to right field — evening the score at two runs apiece. Rogers then entered and recorded the final out when Koob made a diving catch off a line drive by Andy Reiter.
Fairmont’s Luke Becker, who pitched seven solid innings and struck out four batters while allowing six hits, two earned runs and no walks, worked his fourth perfect frame in the bottom of the sixth and then benefited from a key Cardinals’ double play in the seventh to extend the game into extra innings.
Fairmont’s Spencer Chirpich, a freshman shortstop, started that 6-4-3 double play and also turned a 6-3 twin killing back in the first to highlight the Cardinals’ sure-handed defense. Chirpich, who also singled in the first, had a total of seven assists and two putouts in the game.
Worthington’s defense was impressive, as well. Jensen threw out another runner attempting to steal second base in the seventh, with shortstop Tanner Rogers applying the tag this time. Koob then made a nice play on a groundball up the middle to help keep the score tied.
The Rogers cousins each made a pair of nice plays on groundballs during the first five plays, as Tanner and Blake (third base) were solid on the left side of the infield.
“Worthington deserves a lot of credit for making the plays defensively,” Sukalski said. “They also executed better offensively than we did, coming through with a few more timely hits with runners in scoring position.”
Blake Rogers (2 1/3 innings) struck out a pair of batters and worked around a one-out single by Mitch Pfingsten for a scoreless top half of the eighth, setting the stage for Worthington’s game-winning output in the bottom half.
Jensen reached on a one-out infield single off Chirpich (in relief of Luke Becker) and then Lucas Henning was hit by a pitch, bringing Hayenga to the plate for his game-winner — a sinking line drive that landed in front of Bryce Holm in left field.
“Tommy is a quiet kid who works hard and comes to play,” Sauerbrei said. “He’s the kind of guy that you want at the plate in those clutch situations, and he sure came through with a big hit there.
“We have confidence in all of our guys to perform well when called upon,” Sauerbrei said. “Our guys are unselfish players who do the little things right to benefit the team. It’s just a lot of guys doing the little parts correctly to lead to the big part, which is competing well and striving to win baseball games as a team.”
Henning and Hayenga smacked back-to-back singles to open the first inning, while Tanner Rogers ripped a single in the seventh for Worthington’s other base hits in the game.
Worthington hosts Marshall in a Southwest Conference showdown Tuesday, while Fairmont plays at Blue Earth Monday.
R H E
Fairmont 000 002 00 — 2 3 1
WHS 000 200 01 — 3 8 1