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Amateur baseball: Cubs advance closer to state tournament

WORTHINGTON -- Strutting their stuff in front of a large crowd of fans at the Worthington middle school baseball field Wednesday night, the Worthington Cubs moved one win away from a state tournament berth with a 4-1 amateur baseball victory over...

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Worthington Cubs baserunner Tommy Hayenga tries to steal third base Wednesday night but is tagged by Hadley's Blake Rogers. TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE

 

WORTHINGTON -- Strutting their stuff in front of a large crowd of fans at the Worthington middle school baseball field Wednesday night, the Worthington Cubs moved one win away from a state tournament berth with a 4-1 amateur baseball victory over Hadley.

The triumph, in the first game of a best-of-three Region 13C series, was accomplished with solid pitching, sharp defense and a three-run sixth inning that gave the Cubs a comfortable 4-0 lead. Worthington can wrap up the series Saturday in Hadley.

In another Region 13 game Wednesday night in Milroy, the Jackson Bulls and the Milroy Irish went late. The two teams were tied in their series opener 6-6 going into the bottom of the 11th inning.

Lucas Henning, a hard-throwing left-hander who starred for the Worthington Trojans a few years ago, helped produce Wednesday’s Cubs win with both his arm and his bat. With his arm, he pitched the full nine innings, walking four, striking out nine and allowing only two Buttermaker hits. With his bat, he drilled a fifth-inning line drive into centerfield that scored the game’s first run, then came close to driving in an insurance run in the eighth when his line drive single to right resulted in teammate Josh Wasmund being cut down at the plate in a close play.

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“I just tried to stay around the zone. By the end of the game when I was running out of gas, I let the defense get it,” Wasmund said about his arm work.

The tall, solidly-built lefty -- who has yet to lose a start this summer -- had enough left in the tank in the ninth inning to work back from a 3-0 count against Hadley slugger Nick Bruning to get him to fly out to right on a 3-2 count. In his previous at bat, Bruning belted a solo home run over the leftfield fence.

After Bruning made the first out of the ninth, Buttermaker teammates Max Zwart grounded out to second base and Nate Wieneke flew out to left to complete a 1-2-3 inning and the game.

Worthington finished with 11 hits off Hadley pitchers Sam Huska and Paul Mesner. Huska was pulled with no outs in the sixth inning while the Cubs were clinging to a 2-0 lead. Mesner pitched the rest of the way.

If there was one thing that didn’t go as planned for the Cubs on Wednesday, it was their hitting with men on base.

“I think we had runners on every single inning tonight,” said player-manager Wasmund, who had three of the team’s hits. “We left 13 on base. That’s been basically our only struggle all year -- getting the hit at the right time. But with our pitching, it doesn’t always hurt us.”

Worthington got the clutch hits they needed in the sixth inning, however. Tommy Hayenga led off the inning with a triple to right-centerfield. Ryan Swanson followed with an RBI single to left, chasing Huska. With one out, AJ Hayenga hit a bouncer to short off Mesner that was thrown past second base into short right field, putting runners on second and third base. Adam Munkel then drilled a two-run line drive single to left for the Cubs’ third and fourth runs.

Henning handled the rest from the mound, and he’s feeling mighty good right now about where the Cubs’ season appears to be headed.

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“Our bats carried us all season, and postseason is all about pitching,” he said. “We’re just confident that whoever we put on the mound is going to give us a very good chance at winning.”

R H E

Hadley 000 000 100 -- 1 2 3

Worthington 000 013 00x -- 4 11 1


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A large crowd of fans at the Worthington middle school baseball field watch as the Worthington Cubs' Adam Munkel (11) eyes a pitch. TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE

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