PREP BASEBALL: Cards drop doubleheaderLUVERNE – Under intermittent rain showers Tuesday afternoon, the Marshall Tigers swept the Luverne Cardinals in a Southwest Conference baseball doubleheader at Redbird Field.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
LUVERNE – Under intermittent rain showers Tuesday afternoon, the Marshall Tigers swept the Luverne Cardinals in a Southwest Conference baseball doubleheader at Redbird Field.
The Tigers cruised to victory in Game 1 with an 8-1 decision and then held off the Cardinals’ late-game rally in the second game with a 6-4 final.
The sweep improves MHS to 8-3 overall and it stays near the top of the conference standings with a 5-2 mark.
“It was two big wins for us,” Tiger lead-off batter and shortstop Mason Schnaible said. “We were close to Luverne in the conference standings and this gets us a little closer to Worthington and Jackson at the top of the standings.”
MHS moved into sole possession of third place in the conference race, trailing Worthington (6-0) and Jackson County Central (6-1). WHS and JCC were scheduled to play each other Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to rain.
Meanwhile, LHS drops to 8-6 overall and 5-5 in the conference. Tuesday’s losses extend the Cardinals’ losing streak to five games.
The Tigers claimed the sweep with good pitching, aided by an early five-run inning in each game, while the Cardinals helped out their opponents by committing a trio of errors in each contest.
Alex Fenske earned the win in the first game by allowing one unearned run on three hits and two walks, while striking out eight LHS batters.
Riley Carpenter claimed the Game 2 win, pitching into the sixth inning and allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits and five walks, while striking out two. Aaron Mathiowetz earned the save by relieving Carpenter in the sixth and recording the final six outs. He struck out three and allowed an unearned run on one hit.
“Two great starting pitching performances,” MHS head coach Steve Fleck said. “Alex Fenske in Game 1 was on fire and Carpenter was motoring for the first five innings of Game 2. Aaron Mathiowetz came in and did a great job in relief. I’m very happy with the pitching we got [Tuesday].”
However, the Cardinals starting pitchers in each game got themselves into a hole early.
The Tigers pounced on Cardinals’ Cody Christensen with a five-run first inning in the opener, while waiting until the second inning of the nightcap to plate five runs off of Josh Slieter for the early leads.
Errors were also costly for the Cardinals in the two contests.
“It’s the tale of the season so far,” LHS head coach Mike Wenninger. “The pitchers get behind and the defense starts to lack behind them. Have an error and then have another error behind it. It seems that we can’t get out of an inning with just the one error. It’s another one compounding it. It’s like a snowball fight in early May.
“That happened to us in both games [Tuesday]. Pitchers got behind early. They didn’t come out with confidence. We don’t have strikeouts pitchers. We have to have defense behind us and our defense let us down with three errors in each game.”
Christensen took the Game 1 loss, pitching four innings and allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, one walk and striking out two. Jeremy Reisdorfer pitched the final three innings of the opener for LHS and gave up one unearned run on three hits, a hit batter and one strikeout.
Slieter pitched the entire second game and struck out five, while taking the loss by allowing the six runs (four earned) on six hits and two walks.
LHS committed three errors in the second inning of the second game, which allowed MHS to take an early 5-0 lead. Austin Saugstad provided the Tigers with the inning’s big hit as his two-run single plated Mathiowetz (double) and Colton Peterson (reached on error).
However, the Cardinals made the nightcap into a contest late by scoring a run in the third, two in the sixth and had the tying run at second with one run in in the seventh before the Tigers recorded the final out.
“That’s been a trend, a little bit,” Fleck said of the late LHS rally. “We’ve been real good at jumping out on teams in the first three or four innings and kind of letting them sneak back in it.”
Richard Gonzalez scored the Cardinal run in the third when he walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and was plated on an RBI single from Christensen.
The Tigers gained that run back in the fourth when Saugstad hit a leadoff double and then scored on Leo Zerr’s two-out single to push the lead back to five runs.
Carpenter, who set down the first eight batters he faced, ran into some control problems and was relieved in the sixth after Gunnar Olson hit a leadoff single, followed by a Josh Slieter double and a walk to Nick Rittenhouse to load the bases with no outs.
Mathiowetz entered the game and recorded the inning’s first out with a strike out, but allowed Olson to score on a wild pitch in the process to make it 6-2. A Tiger error allowed Wyatt Aubert (courtesy running for Slieter) to score later in the inning to make it 6-3, but the MHS reliever worked out of the inning with the bases full.
Christensen reached on an error to lead off the seventh and moved to second on a wild pitch followed by Mathiowetz retiring the next two batters.
However, Rittenhouse plated Christensen with a hit to right field to make it a 6-4 ballgame, with the tying run at the plate.
The Tigers thought they had completed the sweep when Jonny Solma popped up to second, but catcher’s interference was called on the play, breathing new life into the Cardinals’ comeback bid.
Solma quickly stole second base to give LHS two runners in scoring position, but Mathiowetz closed the door on the rally by striking out the final batter and securing the Game 2 win for MHS.
“We left runners in scoring position,” Wenninger said. “You have to have more than that to put pressure on good teams. We need to do a little bit more each time to get ourselves in a better position to win.”
The opening game was all MHS as the visitors used five hits and a walk to score the day’s first five runs.
Matt Campion drove home Schnaible (walk) and Zerr (single) with a double for a 2-0 lead followed by Peterson plating Campion with a two-out double to make it 3-0.
Peterson scored on a Mathiowetz single followed by Mathiowetz moving to second on a throw home and then scoring on a Ben Geary single to complete the five-run burst.
The Tigers added a run in the third when Peterson reached on an error and scored on another RBI single from Geary.
Schnaible doubled and scored on a double-play ball in the fourth as the visitors extended the lead to 7-0 before the Cardinals scratched a run across in the bottom half of the inning.
Olson led off the LHS fourth with a single and scored with two outs when Brett Heronimus reached on an error to make it 7-1.
The opener’s final run came in the seventh when Fenske singled, moved to second on an error and advanced to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a sacrifice fly by Mathiowetz for the 8-1 final.
Solma and Christensen had the other two Cardinal hits in the first game.
“It’s a skid that we are going down,” Wenniger said of his squad’s recent losing streak. “We have some injuries that we need to get fixed and we need to start playing better baseball to get ready for the playoffs.”
While LHS is looking to start playing better, MHS is hoping to continue playing at a high level.
“Our goal is to continue playing our best ball at the end of the year and this is a step in the right direction,” Fleck said.
Game 1 R H E
MHS 501 100 1 – 8 11 2
LHS 000 100 0 – 1 3 3
Game 2 R H E
LHS 001 002 1 – 4 5 3
MHS 050 100 X – 6 6 3