HERON LAKE -- Baseball managers say it all the time.
Players know it. Fans know it. Pitchers know it so well, they don’t have to be told. But like the Sunday school dropout who tries to be good but who just can’t consistently thread the needle, even the best mound aces can’t always find the plate.
The Worthington Cubs are a competitive amateur baseball team this season, which is significant considering they went winless in 2019 in part because their pitchers threw strikes inconsistently. In the early part of their delayed 2020 summer schedule, they’ve played a couple of teams tough. And they accomplished their first win with a come-from-behind victory over Jackson in just their second outing of the year.
They hoped to add another win or two on Sunday with games in Heron Lake against Heron Lake and Mountain Lake clubs. But in both games, walks hurt.
“Walks kill,” said player-manager Ryan Swanson after a 9-1 loss to the Lakers. “We had seven walks in two innings and 12 total during the game. We won’t be winning many games with that many walks.”
The Cubs played better in the second game of the day against Mountain Lake, in a 5-4 eight-inning setback. But again, wildness was a factor.
“Walks still kill,” Swanson pointed out.
Despite the first-game walks, Worthington might have applied pressure to Heron Lake had it supplied more timely hits. The Cubs left nine batters on base.
Danny Pavelko was 2-for-5 with a run scored for Worthington, and teammate Tyler Linder was 2-for-3 as the Cubs out-hit the Lakers 8-7 overall.
On the mound, Eric Heidebrink walked four and allowed three earned runs in the first inning and didn’t retire a batter. Brayden Donkersloot pitched 4.1 innings, allowing seven hits and five earned runs with four strikeouts. He walked five. And Nathan Van Orman pitched 1.2 innings while striking out three, but issuing three walks.
Against Mountain Lake, the Cubs scored a single run in the top of the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie, but Mountain Lake scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to win.
Linder walked the first two batters in the eighth, and both runs scored.
Again, Worthington out-hit the opposition, 12-6. Logan Huisman had two hits in five trips with an RBI. Linder was 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. Eli Gaul was 2-for-3 with a run scored, and his younger brother Tate was 2-for-4 with a double.
As in the first game, timely hits were infrequent. The Cubs left 12 runners on base.
Huisman pitched 5.1 innings, Adam Russell pitched to two outs, and Linder finished up. As a group, they walked 12 batters.
Worthington is scheduled to play tonight in a 7:30 p.m. start in Pipestone against Pipestone. Then on Sunday, the Cubs host the Windom Pirates in a 5 p.m. game at the local middle school field.