WHS BASEBALL: Hayenga drives in 3 to lead Trojans over Huskies 15-11JACKSON — Coming into Monday’s Southwest Conference baseball game, the Worthington Trojans were looking up at Jackson County Central in the standings. But after a wild 15-11 Trojan victory over the Huskies, everything changed.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
JACKSON — Coming into Monday’s Southwest Conference baseball game, the Worthington Trojans were looking up at Jackson County Central in the standings.
But after a wild 15-11 Trojan victory over the Huskies, everything changed.
“It was a good win,” Worthington’s Tommy Hayenga said. “I think we were a half-game behind them. It’s nice to be back on top in the Southwest Conference. Especially against a good team like Jackson, to beat them twice in a season, that’s big for us.”
Worthington had defeated JCC 10-0 on April 12. It was the second game of the season for the Trojans and the third for the Huskies.
“It was early in the year,” WHS head coach Stacy Sauerbrei said. “The likelihood of that type of game early in the year when the weather is not very nice, the chances are better. I always thought they were going to be a really good team, that was just a hiccup.”
In that first game, Worthington left-hander Lucas Henning didn’t allow a hit.
“That was game three of the season and it was really early and it was really cold,” JCC head coach Trent Sukalski said. “At that point, we had 10 plate appearances, now they have 60 or 70. They’ve seen so many more pitches and I think at that time, they hadn’t seen many pitches and Henning was awfully good that day. I think the difference is the number of at-bats we’ve all logged. I think everybody feels a lot more comfortable at the plate, even against a Henning, they feel like they have a good chance.”
Monday’s game was a different story.
The Trojans, who brought a two-game losing streak into the game, pounded out 14 hits in the game, including seven in their 11-run fourth inning.
“That was big,” Hayenga said of the fourth inning. “We had a lot of hits. That was the first time in quite a while that we’ve had hits in the same inning and kept on going and going. They had a couple errors and we capitalized on it and had a huge inning.”
JCC, however, didn’t appear to be rattled. It came back with four runs in the bottom of the frame.
“We gathered the troops after that inning and basically said — I didn’t get mad — I just said hey, that was a debacle,” Sukalski said. “Let’s let it go. There’s nothing we can do about it now, let’s let it go. I know we can hit, so let’s everybody go up and have quality at-bats. Let’s not worry about the score and have quality at-bats. That’s what they did and all of a sudden we’re back in the ballgame. That’s a credit to the kids. The kids really worked hard and it’s a good character builder for them that they didn’t quit.”
But in the end, the Huskies’ rally came up just short in the four-run loss.
“That’s what you expect in a Southwest Conference game, really from any team, but especially from a Jackson and Worthington game,” Sauerbrei said. “We’re so close with the proximity of the towns and everything and the kids know each other. One team is not going to lay down for the other team.”
WHS lost twice in the span of five days after beginning the season 9-0, but started quickly Monday.
“We were optimistic, but those two losses affected us and we wanted to get back in the winning column,” Trojan Turner Hagen said.
Henning started the top of the first with a double and Hayenga followed with a single.
Blake Rogers singled to plate Henning and Hayenga scored on Rylan Scholtes’ fly out as WHS took a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, Henning recorded two straight outs before JCC’s Tanner Menke hit a solo home run over the left-field fence to cut the deficit.
WHS added another run in the third as Hayenga led off with a single and later scored on Tyler Hatterman’s fly out.
Colyn Hohenstein, who was batting ninth in the JCC lineup, hit a one-out double in the third and later scored on Cooper Moore’s single as WHS had a 3-2 lead after three.
But the floodgates opened in the fourth inning.
A total of 16 batters went to the plate for WHS as the Trojans scored 11 runs on eight hits and took advantage of three JCC errors.
“It’s a great feeling to have that everybody went through and was hitting the ball well,” Hagen said. “After the New Ulm loss, it was a good pick-up for us.”
Hagen led off the inning with a single, and after a sacrifice bunt by Eric Koob, Aaron Pavelko reached on an error.
“It’s fun hitting,” Hagen said. “I love being the DH. I just go up there, look for a strike and hit the ball.”
Henning roped a double to plate Tyler Verdoorn (running for Hagen) and Hayenga’s double plated both Pavelko and Henning.
“I’m seeing the ball pretty good right now,” said Hayenga, who finished with three hits, three runs scored and drove in three runs in the fourth inning.
After a groundout for the second out of the inning, the Trojans went on to score eight more runs.
Hatterman – who later scored on a wild pitch — singled to drive in Hayenga, and Scholtes reached on an error. Jon Reller walked and Verdoorn singled home Scholtes. Reller and Verdorn scored on an error in the inning, Koob crossed home on Hayenga’s bases-loaded walk, and Rogers drove home two with a single, giving WHS a 14-2 advantage.
“You don’t see that very often, do you?” Sauerbrei said of the 11-run inning. “It was good to see us hit the ball where they’re not. In the last couple games and even more than that, we’ve been hitting it at our opponents. Today, we seem to hit it hard where they weren’t. That’s just kind of the way baseball is sometimes. You have to be lucky sometimes and it helps to be lucky and it helps to be good. The combination of the two is a good thing.”
WHS scored one more run in the game in the seventh inning.
Meanwhile, the Huskies kept chipping away at the lead.
Carsen Nyborg led off the bottom of the fourth for the Huskies with a double and Zach Copley followed with a single. Brett Larson walked to load the bases.
Nyborg scored on an infield fly, Copley was plated on Phil Buschena’s groundout and Larson scored on Hohenstein’s triple.
Hohenstein later scored on Taylor Christopher’s single as the Huskies scored four runs in the inning.
“I was hoping for a 10-run rule after that huge inning,” Hayenga said. “But they are a good team and they came and they smacked the ball, everyone in that lineup, one through nine. Especially the nine hitter, I think he had like three hits. They are a good-hitting team. We weren’t expecting them to go away. We were expecting them to come back and I’m glad we hung on for the win.”
Dustin Pronk added a key two-run double in the fifth inning and he later scored as Hohenstein had his third hit in as many at-bats, cutting the deficit to 14-9 after five innings.
“They are a really good hitting team,” Hayenga said. “We made plays again today, but they smacked the ball and they were finding holes.”
Moore led off the sixth with a single and scored on Pronk’s fielder’s choice and Nyborg scored from third after a pick-off attempt.
JCC had two runners on base with two outs in the seventh inning when Reller entered in relief and struck out the only batter he faced to put the finishing touches on the victory.
“This gets us off our losing streak and that’s what we needed,” Hayenga said. “We needed to get back on a winning streak going into sections. We have a big game against Marshall (today), so we needed this win to get our confidence going again and I think we do have our confidence going again.”
The Trojans (10-2, 7-1) are at Marshall today.
“We’ll carry the momentum into Marshall,” Hagen said. “Hopefully we can keep our bats going and pitching as well and get another ‘W.’”
Meanwhile, the Huskies (10-4, 7-2) are at Redwood Valley today before hosting Marshall in a big doubleheader on Thursday.
“You can look back and say hey, we were down by 12 and we almost came back and won against Worthington and against the best pitcher in the league,” Sukalski said. “It’s disappointing to lose because it’s such a huge game as far as conference and section seeding. It’s disappointing, but at the same time, I feel like we got some momentum out of this coming back the way we did. We have three conference games left this week, so the conference is still a three team race between us, Worthington and Marshall.”
R H E
WHS 201 (11)00 1 — 15 14 2
JCC 101 432 0 — 11 12 6
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Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.