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VFW baseball: Worthington comes together for solid home win

DOUG WOLTER/DAILY GLOBE Worthington VFW baseball player Nate Russell slides safely ahead of a throw to the Marshall Orange catcher to score Monday at the middle school field in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON — Worthington VFW baseball coach TD Hostikka believes he has a good group of athletes who are “maybe starting to jell now.”

It can be encouraging one minute, frustrating the next to watch a bunch of 15-and 16-year-olds learn how to coagulate into a solid baseball unit. In the summer of 2014, there have been plenty of up moments and down moments for the local VFW squad. But, on balance, Monday’s 14-7 victory over visiting Marshall Orange was on the up side.

Worthington led the Orange 7-3 before giving up four fifth-inning runs in excruciating ways. With one out, Marshall loaded the bases off reliever Nate Russell on a couple of infield errors and a hit batsman. Next came a single on a 3-2 count by Marshall’s Trey Nelson, then a swinging strike three that got away from the Worthington catcher with a dropped throw on the other end at first base — which made the score 7-6. A wild pitch scored the tying run.

It didn’t take long, however, for Worthington to redeem itself and re-take control of the game. In the bottom of the fifth, the home team scored seven runs after the first three hitters of the inning — Jed Jewett, Eli Gaul and Russell — hit safely. A two-run single by Brandon Veen came next, chasing Marshall’s starting pitcher, Zach Thompson. In the same inning, Worthington plated another run on a well-executed squeeze play, then scored again on a double-steal and an infield out.

Worthington, said Hostikka, seemed to let down a little bit after Marshall’s half of the fifth. So Hostikka gathered his troops before his team’s turn at bat and told them to regain their focus at the plate.

“And we did that right away,” he said.

Jewett, who pitched the first three innings for the locals, finished the game with three hits. Gaul also had three, and Russell had two.

Russell, who pitched the final four innings, left the bases loaded three times. He escaped in the fourth when second baseman Tory Rogers caught a wicked line drive and doubled a runner off first for the third out.

“He left a small village every inning. When those things happen, a little bleeder is gonna score a couple of runs, and that’s what happened. And when we scored the seven, it was like the sails were out for Marshall,” Hostikka said.

Worthington moved to 10-9 on the summer season with its victory. The two teams played a three-inning exhibition game afterward, won by Marshall 7-0. In that one, the Orange scored six first inning runs aided by four Worthington errors. Worthington pitcher Brandon Veen went the full three innings, allowing just one earned run.


Marshall 021 040 0 — 7 6 4

Worthington 421 070 x —14 12 3

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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