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Prep baseball: Luverne offense puts on a show in win over Trojans

WORTHINGTON — It was a morning game. But the Worthington Trojans might have felt better off having stayed home.

The Luverne Cardinals, in a Southwest Conference baseball showdown, dominated the Trojans in five innings in a 10:30 a.m. start Saturday at the middle school field, 25-3. The Trojans and Cardinals have enjoyed some memorable baseball clashes over the years. But this one wasn’t it.

After the first inning, the game had intrigue. Both teams scored two runs in the first frame. But from that point, it got out of hand. Luverne scored seven in the second and 10 in the third for a 19-2 lead. Five Worthington pitchers — most who couldn’t find the plate consistently — struggled to keep the Cards at bay. When they threw the ball over the plate, LHS hit it hard, and sometimes soft — but almost always safely. Five Worthington errors didn’t help matters.

Luverne can capture at least a share of the Southwest Conference championship with a victory over Windom Area today, in Luverne. Worthington, after starting out the season at 3-0, has slumped. Last week, the Trojans lost a 2-1 game to Jackson County Central that gave the Huskies their first win of the season, but Saturday’s game may have been the low point.

They will try to turn things around today at home against a tough Fairmont squad.

“They’re a good baseball team. And their record shows it,” WHS head coach Stacy Sauerbrei said after the Luverne drubbing. “We just gotta move forward. Can’t dwell on the past.

“We had good days of practice this week. Yesterday (Friday) we had the best day of practice all year. It just didn’t show on the field today,” he said.

Sauerbrei started sophomore Nathan Braaksma on the mound against Luverne. He went one and one-third innings. Roque Soto was next, but Soto lasted just a third of an inning as the Cardinals were in the midst of scoring seven runs. Carson Hagen pitched next, going two-thirds. Trevor Wietzema went two-thirds of an inning and Nate Russell finished up.

Trojan pitchers had walked eight batters before getting out of the third inning.

Meanwhile, a powerful Luverne lineup that provides no easy outs pounded line drives repeatedly. LHS starting pitcher Kendall Meyer pulled a double against the rightfield fence for two RBIs in the second. One walk later, Josh Slieter pulled a hard double down the leftfield line for another RBI. Next up, Andrew Verhey belted a two-run double.

And so it went.

“Everybody in the lineup can hit,” said Luverne head coach Mike Wenninger. “We’ve struggled a bit with the higher class pitchers. We haven’t always scored the runs. But when we do score the runs, they come in droves.”

Meyer finished three innings on the mound for Luverne. Ryan Gonzalez put down the Trojans in order in the fourth (on just seven pitches) and Zane Hiller finished, allowing a run in the fifth when Worthington’s Ryan Lee doubled to rightfield.

Lee, one of two Trojan seniors, had two of the Trojans’ five hits Saturday. He is the most experienced pitcher on the team and has teamed up this spring with senior catcher Alex Purdy to provide valuable leadership for the remainder of the younger, more inexperienced squad, which will now try to rediscover whatever it was that helped get them that 3-0 start.


Luverne 2 7 10 3 3 — 25 26 1

WHS 2 0 0 0 1 — 3 5 5

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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