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TROJAN BASEBALL: Worthington baseball wins season opener over SWU

HERON LAKE -- In the season-opener for both baseball teams, Worthington and Southwestern United combined to use 11 pitchers and allowed players to field multiple positions in a 13-3 Trojans' victory over the Wildcats on a sunny, but chilly and breezy, Thursday evening at Laker Field.

"We tried to accomplish a number of things in this season opener," WHS head coach Stacy Sauerbrei said following the win. "We wanted to see a number of pitchers get time on the mound to get the early-season jitters out of the way and we wanted to get guys at-bats."

Sauerbrei used six pitchers in the game, as Tristan Sorenson (starter), Nathan Ray, Deron Soderholm, Blake Rogers, Turner Hagen and Aaron Pavelko each pitched one inning in the victory. The six hurlers combined on a two-hitter, allowing two earned runs on four walks and eight strikeouts.

"I was very pleased with our pitching," Sauerbrei said. "The guys were ready to go. It was cold and to come in and only pitch one inning, the guys needed to be mentally prepared to throw strikes and they did that."

The Trojan batters used seven hits and seven walks, while capitalizing on seven SWU errors to plate their 13 runs.

Ryan Lee (double, three RBIs) and Pavelko (double, two RBIs) each had two hits and scored a run to lead the WHS cause, while Ray (double, two RBIs), Zach Kempema (RBI) and Soderholm (RBI) each collected a hit. Tyler Hatterman (two steals), Ray (one steal) and Soderholm each scored three runs.

WHS plated the first run as Pavelko led off the game with a single and scored following a sacrifice bunt by Sorenson and a pair of Wildcats' errors.

SWU tied the game in the home half of the first as Stuart Schumacher started a two-out rally with a walk and a steal before Austin Rossow drove home Schumacher with an RBI single down the right-field line.

However, another pair of SWU errors in the second inning along with an RBI single by Lee and a two-run double by Pavelko allowed Worthington to take a 4-1 lead.

"The score sounds worse than what the kids played --that's for sure," said first-year SWU head coach Blaise Jacobsen. "We made a lot of first-game errors right away from the beginning. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot, defensively. I wasn't really expecting that because we've worked on defense a lot."

A four-run third with two walks, two hits and a Wildcat error helped the Trojans extend the lead to 8-1. Hatterman walked and stole two bases, including home on a double steal with Ray, in the frame, while Kempema plated Ray with a pinch-hit single and Lee doubled home Kempema. Soderholm reached on a fielder's choice and moved to third on Lee's double before scoring the inning's fourth run on a wild pitch.

"The bottom part of the lineup really came through for us," Sauerbrei said. "Ryan Lee had two hits and Zach Kempema comes in and delivers in an RBI situation. That was an important part of the game for him to come in and do that."

Ray doubled home Hatterman in the fourth before Rogers quickly got WHS back to plate, striking out the Wildcats' side in order in the bottom of the inning.

The fifth inning, however, was the only inning the Trojans didn't score in, while the Wildcats plated another run to cut the deficit to 9-2. Aaron Fest and Luke Veith (two walks) each walked to start the SWU fifth before Logan Glaser moved the two up a base with a sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch allowed Fest to score the inning's lone run prior to WHS answering with their final four runs in the sixth.

Ray, Soderholm and Lee each gathered an RBI in the four-run Trojans' sixth, while Robbie Barrie walked and scored a run in a pinch-hit appearance.

In SWU's half of the sixth, Rossow recorded his second and the Wildcats' second hit of the game before stealing second base for the second time and scoring on a wild pitch for the 13-3 final.

"Offensively, I wasn't surprised that we struggled a little bit," Jacobsen said. "We haven't hit much live pitching yet, but I was happy to see us get on base a few times and do some good stuff there."

Aaron Fest (starter), Jacob Post, Kraig Stenzel, Dakota Schmid and Andrew Kramer all pitched for the Wildcats, combining to allow five earned runs on seven hits, seven walks and four strikeouts.

"The pitchers threw the ball really well and they were able to work out of their innings just fine," Jacobsen added. "I'm excited for the next game. This one was a good one to build on and get to better at it."

Southwestern United (0-1) returns to the diamond Monday as the Wildcats host Minneota/Lincoln HI for a non-conference game.

Worthington (1-0) opens its Southwest Conference schedule Thursday as the Trojans travel to play Jackson County Central.


WHS 134 104 -- 13 7 1

SWU 100 011 -- 3 2 7