College baseball: Minnesota West is speedy in split
WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota West baseball team continues to showcase its speed.
On Monday, the Bluejays displayed that, some clutch pitching and some improved defensive play en route to a split against visiting Rainy River.
The Bluejays committed 12 errors in a split with the visiting Voyageurs on Sunday, but they made only four miscues in Tuesday’s games. Rainy River won the opener 5-4 at College Field but West came back to take the nightcap 11-5 to improve to 10-8 on the young season.
“Pleased to be two wins over .500 and double-digits in wins. And I think I used just about everybody on my bench,” West head coach TD Hostikka said. “All the relief pitchers, when they came in, they did a good job.”
Rainy River overcame a 2-0 deficit in the first game, scoring four runs in the top of the fifth inning against West pitcher Jonathon Fernandez. Joe Wieneke, a freshman from Windom, came on in relief in the fifth and allowed just one run the rest of the way, but the hosts were unable to retake the lead.
Trailing 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh, Minnesota West’s Joshua Garcia led off with a single, stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch. He scored later on an infield grounder, but the Bluejays were unable to get the tying run.
Rainy River’s Cody Carpenter belted a lead-off home run off Wieneke in the top of the seventh. That proved to be the difference.
In the second game, West never trailed. And many of the team’s 11 runs were manufactured with singles, stolen bases and Rainy River errors. Fernandez stroked a two-out RBI single in the top of the first inning and a second score came home on an RBI single by Worthington High School grad Ryan Lee.
West made it 4-1 with two more runs in the third. Tyler Patterson hit a one-out double and later scored when Rainy River starter Kris Barber threw wildly to first base on a botched force for the third out. A Luis Sanchez sacrifice fly scored the second run.
Three more West runs scored in the top of the fifth and another three crossed the plate in the top of the sixth after Rainy River scored three in its half of the fifth to cut the Bluejays’ lead to 7-5.
All three of the Jays’ fifth-inning runs scored on Voyageurs errors. Hits by Isaac Canada and Patterson, a couple of stolen bases and a wild throw contributed to the sixth-inning runs.
A dramatic moment occurred with two outs in the sixth and the bases loaded. The Bluejays brought in All-Southern Division sophomore Austin Watkins’ powerful left-handed bat with the possibility of breaking the game open. He walked on four pitches to force in the 10th run, but the next batter made the third out.
Josh Gross hurled the first three and two-thirds innings for Minnesota West in the second game. Right-handed relief pitcher Cory Apperson, a freshman from Tracy, stopped the Voyageurs in the sixth inning. Zach Devon, a righty from Detroit, blanked the Voyageurs in the seventh.
West stole six bases in the first game and seven in the second.
Hostikka said his Bluejays still haven’t hit the ball as well as they can. But they’ve still proven their ability to manufacture runs.
“Today we played small baseball. Until the hitters start hitting, that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.. “Our team speed is going to help us all year long.”
R H E
Rainy River 000 040 1 -- 5 8 1
Minnesota West 110 001 0 -- 4 6 3
R H E
Minnesota West 202 033 1 -- 11 9 1
Rainy River 011 030 0 -- 5 8 6