Adrian/Ellsworth lose 4-2 to Pipestone in sluggish April baseball game
The Dragons mashed the ball well, but errors on the base path and defense hampered their chances to win.
ADRIAN — The Adrian/Ellsworth Dragons baseball team lost its season opener 4-2 to Pipestone Area. Monday was not only the first game day for the Dragons, it was also their first outdoor practice.
The Dragons were hampered by errors. A pleasant and warm sun was nice for the crowd, but proved difficult to manage on defense.
With two outs in the top of the second inning, starting pitcher Quentin Wolf jammed Landon Johnson into an infield pop fly. The ball floated for a beat before harmlessly landing between the feet of the Dragons' second and first basemen.
Wolf had an early retirement, with the Dragons opting to pull him after three innings and 65 pitches. He dealt with command issues allowing four walks, but also flashed brilliance with four strikeouts. Wolf allowed one earned run in the third — Jackson Melcher hit a deep sacrifice fly, scoring Troy Clark-Chaulsett.
Dana Weiss pitched one inning in relief of Wolf. Weiss allowed one hit and was on the mound for two unearned runs. Weiss had two strikeouts.
Two players pitched for the Arrows as starter Landon Quist worked the first five innings and Kellen Johnson pitched the final two frames in relief. Johnson had three strikeouts, one hit and one unearned run.
Quist was excellent, with good speed on his fastball and nice break on offspeed. He allowed four hits and two walks, struck out five and gave up one earned run.
Johnson had three strikeouts and had one unearned run to his name.
There were a lot of positives for the Dragons. They put together several good series at the plate, but were unable to capitalize with seven runners left on base.
The Dragons added a run of their own in the bottom of the third. Andrew Rahe tattooed a one-out double, and Kyler Kunkel hit a single that scored Rahe in the subsequent at-bat.
Joe Rahe scored in the seventh inning after the Arrows’ catcher made a throwing error in an attempt to corral him. Rahe reached base with a leadoff single.
“We hit the ball way better than I thought we would — with only having one practice (on the diamond),” said Andrew Rahe, a multi-year starter for the Dragons. “We had some base running mistakes and just little things that we will fix.”
Stealing multiple singles up the middle from the Dragons was Pipestone’s star shortstop Merrick Heidebrink. Heidebrink wowed the crowd with diving leaps to steal multiple hits away from A/E.
“That shortstop they have — he saved a ton of runs,” said Adrian/Ellsworth coach Joe Kruger on Heidebrink’s defensive ability. “He was solid, really solid.”
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, the Dragons had runners at the corners and Wolf at the plate. In an attempt to move the runner from first to second, the Dragons called a double steal hoping yips, panic and early season rust would cause the Arrows to miss the throw.
Arrows’ pitcher Quist saw Joe Rahe dance off third and showed great instinct to cut off the throw from home to second. Rahe was unable to evade the tag in the ensuing game of pickle and the Dragons went scoreless in the inning.
The Dragons had five errors on defense, but what went wrong for the Dragons was fixable, and coach Kruger expressed excitement for his team's chances this season.
“I like our guys, we will get them cleaned up,” Kruger said. “All our mistakes were fixable. … I liked our attitudes. I liked our effort — we hustled for the most part. We had four freshmen playing. We all love baseball and are willing to work on things we did not do well.”
Keagan Polzine was excellent for the Dragons on the mound. Polzine pitched the final three innings and allowed zero runs on one hit and one walk. Polzine struck out five — including the final two outs in the fifth after Johnson stole second and third after a leadoff single.
“I know that he can throw well, but that was better than expected,” said Kruger of the 6-foot-2 junior. “We are going to need him. He played right field for the first five innings — it was the first time he ever played outfield and he made some nice catches out there too.”
The Dragons will play two more games this week. On Thursday, they are set to play Red Rock Conference opponent Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey and on Saturday A/E plays Russell-Tyler-Ruthton.
“We definitely have some things to work on,” said Kruger. But our goal is always to be playing our best baseball at the end of May. We don’t want to peak right now and we definitely didn’t.”
Pipestone Area 011 200 0 – 4 4 2
Adrian/Ellsworth 001 000 1 – 2 5 5