WORTHINGTON -- It’s the nature of summer baseball that when American Legion teams meet for the first time in sub-state tournament play, there isn’t a lot of scouting information available.
So when Worthington and Faribault meet today for a first-round game in the 2021 Minnesota Sub-State 2, Division I tournament, anything can happen.
Worthington Post 5 coach Tim Gaul, however, says he’s expecting a tough game from Faribault when the two teams meet at 4 p.m. in Essig. He’s basing that on the seedings -- Worthington at No. 4 and Faribault at No. 5.
“Should be a very competitive game,” he said.
Worthington owns a 12-8 record. It could be much better than that, Gaul said, after the locals outplayed Sleepy Eye 14-8 on Thursday for win No. 12. And Gaul is probably correct. The Worthingtonians have dropped several tournament games this season that were tight.
But the ball has bounced the right way for Post 5 lately, and Gaul hopes the timely hitting and solid defensive play will continue as his stable of strong arms throw strikes -- which they sometimes do and sometimes don’t.
In the Sleepy Eye game, strong-armed right-hander Michael Iverson struggled through a difficult first inning but pitched well in the next three before being rested for a reliever. It’s Iverson, said his coach, who will get the start against Faribault.
“He’s a seasoned pitcher,” Gaul said. “He’s been pitching at a competitive level when he was 7 or 8 years old. I’m gonna go with the hot hand right now, and that’s Michael.”
Coach Gaul is fortunate that he has at least three other solid pitchers on his staff. But he could have more.
A proven star hurler, Will Brandner, is not able to throw this summer because he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery. The team’s outstanding catcher, Tommy Lais, has been unable to play for most of the season. And Blake Ahrenstorff, another fine pitcher, is also unable to pitch.
That hasn’t stopped Post 5 from putting together an impressive summer campaign, however. And that’s no surprise to Gaul, who looked over his lineup at the beginning of the season and pronounced it capable of beating almost anyone. Nobody knows what will happen in the double-elimination Sub-State 2, Division I tournament, but the Worthington skipper is unsurprisingly optimistic.
“I’m expecting us to be a tough out,” he said.
All of the tournament games will be played Wednesday through Saturday at Sleepy Eye and Essig. In other first-round games it will be Mankato National (the top seed) versus Sleepy Eye (8) in Sleepy Eye at 5 p.m., Mankato American (3) vs. Jordan (6) at Essig at 6:30 p.m., and Fairmont (7) vs. New Ulm Gold (2) at Sleepy Eye at 7:30 p.m.
The championship is set for 11 a.m. in Sleepy Eye on Saturday.