JCC left in the dust, waiting conference fate: Worthington and Redwood Valley will decide SWC MondayJACKSON – Rain washed out Friday afternoon’s non-conference baseball game between the Jackson County Central Huskies and the Martin County West Mavericks at Wacker Field.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
JACKSON – Rain washed out Friday afternoon’s non-conference baseball game between the Jackson County Central Huskies and the Martin County West Mavericks at Wacker Field.
The Mavericks battled through a rain delay in the top of the fourth inning to score three runs to break apart a 9-9 contest, but after play resumed, the game was called with the Huskies’ leadoff batter at the plate in the bottom of the fourth with lightning spotted near the field.
The game was suspended and play will not be resumed. MCW held a 12-9 lead at the time of the suspension.
The Mavericks scored in each of their four innings at the plate with five runs in the first, one in the second, and three runs in both the third and fourth innings.
The Huskies were held scoreless in the bottom of the first after the visitors had brought 10 batters to plate and scored the initial five runs off of six hits and one JCC error.
However, JCC claimed a short-lived lead in the bottom of the second when it sent 13 batters to the plate and scored all nine of its run.
“The guys did a nice job of swinging the bat and battling back to take the lead,” JCC head coach Trent Sukalski said. “We came out flat in the game and they jumped on us right away. But credit to my guys for sticking with it and scoring a bunch in the second.
“We’ve played eight games in the last nine days, so the guys are tired, especially after [Thursday’s] games.”
On Thursday, the Huskies claimed an 8-7 win in the opening game of a Southwest Conference doubleheader with the Marshall Tigers after being down 7-3 after five innings. JCC scored five runs in the final two innings and won the opener on a bases-loaded walk to Taylor Christopher that plated Dustin Pronk for the walk-off win.
With the outright conference championship in sight, Marshall spurned JCC’s hopes of the title in the nightcap of Thursday’s action with a two-run seventh inning for a 7-6 Tiger win, which answered a grand slam by Huskies’ Brett Larson in the top of the inning that put JCC ahead 6-5.
With Thursday’s split, JCC and Marshall each have identical conference records of 9-3 (.750 winning percentage) and each can claim a share of the crown pending the results of Worthington’s Monday doubleheader with Redwood Valley.
The Trojans are in the lead with an 8-2 record and their conference winning percentage is .800.
A Worthington sweep on Monday would give the Trojans the outright crown, while a split would complete the race with the three teams sharing the title and a pair of Worthington losses would give JCC and Marshall each a share and drop Worthington to third place.
“We are excited,” JCC senior second baseman Colyn Hohenstein said “We wanted to get that conference championship. We still have a chance if Worthington loses a game against Redwood, we will get a share of the title, which is something we’ve never done.”
Hohenstein, who was the Huskies’ designated hitter Friday, had a standout day at the plate against the Mavericks as he batted twice in the second inning and drove in five runs with a two-run home run that cut the lead to 6-3 and wrapped up the inning’s scoring with a bases-clearing double.
“I came up thinking to just look for a strike and hit the ball,” Hohenstein said of his round tripper. “It went over the fence and felt good.”
“Colyn did a great job at plate for us,” Sukalski said. “All of the guys did. Colyn has worked hard and has moved up to seventh in the order. He’s batting about .390 and we have a lot of good bats in front of him.”
Having a bevy of batters never hurt a team and with tired pitching arms, it allows teams to string together big innings.
“That’s the type of game that probably ends up with a 20-18 score,” the JCC coach said. “Our bats got going and we weren’t done yet.”
Each batter in the Huskie lineup reached base at least once and in addition to Hohenstein’s day in the unofficial contest, Christopher was 2-for-3 with a run, Cooper Moore and Carsen Nyborg were each 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, Larson was 1-for-1 with two runs and an RBI, Pronk was 1-for-1 with a double, two runs and an RBI, Phil Buschena scored a run and Josh Thaemlitz had a RBI.
Moore, Larson, Christopher and Menke each pitched for JCC, while Tyson Schuder and Alex Saxen toiled for MCW.
The Mavericks also had mulitple batters with nice games with the bat.
Alex Biehn was 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs, Mitch Sitzmann was 2-for-4 with a run and a stolen base, Jacob Faber was 1-for-2 with an RBI, two walks and three runs, Josiah Ebeling was 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs, Schuder was 1-for-3 with a run, Kyle Brolsma was 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run, Austin Krumwiede was 1-for-3 with an RBI and Bryan Andrews was 2-for-3 with two RBIs and a run.
“I’m very proud of my guys,” MCW coach Cody Leiding said. “We played Maple River on Tuesday. They won the [Valley] conference and we beat them 10-4. Then [Thursday] night, we played the No. 1 team in Class 1A, Sleepy Eye Saint Mary’s, and we were down 8-0 and we battled all the way back and tied it in the sixth inning and then they ended up beating us 11-8.
“We jumped out on Jackson right away. We knew they’re a good ballclub with their record and the teams that they play, but my guys just kept working and working and working. And we are young. We only have two seniors and we start three sophomores, one freshman and the rest all juniors. We have slowly and gradually built ourselves into a good team. I’m very proud of my guys. They always work hard for me and they always give me 110 [percent].”
Leiding has his squad playing quality baseball as the season winds down and the postseason is set to get underway.
The Mavericks are 8-6 overall and conclude the regular season with a game at St. James Monday before opening the Section 2A South playoffs with a home game against Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Thursday in Welcome.
Meanwhile, Sukalski’s squad is also playing at a high level and has gotten plenty of experience over the course of the season.
“We’ve had a chance to win every game that we’ve played besides a game early in the season when [Lucas] Henning shut us down in Worthington,” Sukalski said. “We have solid batters up and down the lineup and with a week off before playoffs, we will get the guys plenty of rest and get them ready to go.
“We are in a tough section and I feel there are six or seven teams that could come out of it and we are one of them.”
JCC finishes the regular season with a record of 12-5 and gets a week to rest before opening the Section 3AA South playoffs. The fourth-seeded Huskies play the fifth-seeded Luverne Cardinals May 26 in Fairmont at 1 p.m.
But before the playoffs begin, all eyes will be on Worthington’s doubleheader with Redwood Valley Monday to determine the Southwest Conference champion.
“Obviously, we want Redwood to come down to Worthington and knock them off the throne and give us a share of the title,” Sukalski said. “Getting a part of the conference title would be a nice honor for the guys and give us a boost going into the postseason.”
The fate of the Southwest Conference rests in the hands of the Trojans, however.
“We’re in charge of our own fate,” Trojan head coach Stacy Sauerbrei said. “You can pull out any cliché you want for that one.
“We have to be ready to play.”
Monday’s doubleheader starts at 4 p.m. at the Worthington Middle School field.