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Amateur baseball: Cubs beat Bulls in series opener

WORTHINGTON -- Lucas Henning pitched a masterpiece and helped himself with the bat. Adam Munkel made a highlight-reel play at shortstop in the fifth inning and the Worthington Cubs defeated Jackson 4-1 Wednesday night in the first game of a cruci...

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Jackson Bulls catcher Caleb Rossow gets the ball in time to tag Worthington Cubs baserunner Lucas Henning (32) as he makes a dash for home plate Wednesday night in Worthington. The Cubs won the game, 4-1. TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE

WORTHINGTON -- Lucas Henning pitched a masterpiece and helped himself with the bat. Adam Munkel made a highlight-reel play at shortstop in the fifth inning and the Worthington Cubs defeated Jackson 4-1 Wednesday night in the first game of a crucial best-of-three Region 13 amateur baseball playoff series.

The Cubs lost their bid for an automatic berth to the state tournament on Sunday, falling 6-3 to Hadley in the deciding game of a best-of-three series. Their bats failed them on Sunday, but they didn’t fail them in Wednesday’s game against the Bulls at Worthington’s middle school field.

“We hit the ball much better tonight,” said player-coach Josh Wasmund. “We hit .375 with runners in scoring position tonight.”

Henning twirled a complete game victory, keeping in tact his record of not having lost a start all summer. He also collected three hits.

But the biggest single highlight came in the fifth inning when Jackson, trailing 2-0, threatened to score.

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Jackson started the inning with back-to-back singles from Caleb Rossow and Blaise Jacobsen. A bunt sacrifice moved them up to second and third base. Brett Larson then bounced to Henning, who held the runners and fired to first for the second out. The third and final out was made by Worthington shortstop Adam Munkel, moving to his right and throwing across his body to get the next hitter out by a hair’s length.

About a month and a half ago, Munkel heard his shoulder pop while pitching, and the arm is still not back at full strength. His pivot and throw on Wednesday, however, kept the Bulls from getting into the game at that point.

“I just charged it hard as I could and threw it as well as I could,” Munkel said after the game. “My shoulder’s been hurting for quite a while. I forgot about it. The adrenaline was pumping hard. It hurt in the dugout, though.”

The only run Henning surrendered came in the top of the ninth inning when a Rossow pop-up behind second base was let to fall in for a hit. The left-handed Henning was dominant for most of the game. He sent the Bulls down in order in the second, third and fourth innings and seldom allowed more than one runner to reach base in any of the other frames.

Worthington scored its first run off Jackson starter Codie Zeutenhorst -- who also pitched a complete game -- in the first inning on a two-out Henning double and a Josh Wasmund single between first and second base.

The Cubs scored again in the third after back-to-back one-out singles by Munkel and Henning and a Joe Ahrens double.

Another run came home in the fifth on a two-out RBI double by Henning, and the fourth scored in the eighth on a dropped fly ball in center-field with two out.

“We came back in this game with confidence in our heads,” Munkel said. “Got our bats working.”

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The Bulls received a gutty performance from Zeutenhorst on the heels of their own Sunday disappointment. In Game 3 of their series with the Milroy Irish, the Bulls lost by a 23-17 football score. On Wednesday night, they kept the dangerous Cubs bats from exploding.

Alas, they couldn’t manage a real threat against Henning, who allowed just five hits overall.

The Cubs will travel to Jackson Friday night, in a 7:30 p.m. start, for Game 2. With a win Friday, Worthington will gain a state tournament berth. Game 3, if necessary, will be played Sunday in Worthington with both teams’ state dreams still alive.

R H E

Jackson 000 000 001 -- 1 5 1

Worthington 101 010 01x -- 4 9 1


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Jackson outfielder Mike Wierson (7) makes a leap to the fence in an attempt to get a handle on a hard-hit ball from a Worthington Cubs bat Wednesday night. The drive fell for a hit. TIM MIDDAGH/DAILY GLOBE

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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