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Amateur baseball: Windom Pirates check off the right boxes

LAKEFIELD -- The Windom Pirates checked off several boxes Wednesday in their 8-0 victory over Lakefield in Game 1 of their Region 13C amateur baseball playoff series. Pitching: Check. Ross Ackerman fired a one-hitter over eight innings. Bunting: ...

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Lakefield pitcher Phil Pronk (right) dives while tossing the ball over diving Windom base runner Danny Kneeland (8) to first baseman Dustin Pronk Wednesday night in amateur baseball playoff action. Kneeland was out on the play. First base coach Sam Huska watches. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

 

 

LAKEFIELD -- The Windom Pirates checked off several boxes Wednesday in their 8-0 victory over Lakefield in Game 1 of their Region 13C amateur baseball playoff series.

Pitching: Check. Ross Ackerman fired a one-hitter over eight innings.

Bunting: Check. The Pirates deftly moved runners forward using small-ball in a three-run seventh inning that broke open a 0-0 game.

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Daring: Check. Third baseman Noah Kloss, after perfectly placing a bunt past Lakefield starting pitcher Phil Pronk for a single in the seventh, was on second base when a ground ball was hit to shortstop. The out was made at second base, but Kloss didn’t slow down after reaching third. By the time the Horned Frogs noticed his aggressiveness, Kloss crossed the plate with the third run of the inning. Two runs scored on the play -- the first from third base, and then Kloss.

Ironically, Kloss said after the game that he wasn’t as prescient as he appeared.

“I was not thinking at all. I was just running. I thought the hit got through, so I just kept running. I wasn’t looking, I just kept going,” he said.

The three-run seventh seemed to break the Horned Frogs, however. Before then, Pronk and Ackerman had engaged in a classic pitcher’s duel. But Pronk left the mound after the seventh, and the Pirates added two runs in the eighth and three in the ninth to pull away.

The victory gives Windom a 1-0 lead in the teams’ best-of-three series, which resumes today at 2 p.m. in Windom. In other games Wednesday, Jackson topped Luverne 5-1 and Hadley edged Pipestone 1-0. Fairmont beat the Milroy Irish 5-2 on Thursday.

Kloss had three hits overall. The 2018 Windom Area High School graduate looked sharp against Lakefield, adding a hard RBI single in the ninth.

Notwithstanding his daring sprint in the seventh inning, however, his best moment may have come moments earlier in the same inning.

The inning began as teammate Devin Nielsen drilled a line drive single between shortstop and third base. Collin Lovell bunted near the first base line, but the ball was bobbled and both runners were safe. Kloss then came up, and his bunt was a thing of beauty, rolling smartly past Pronk and filling the sacks.

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After that, Lakefield moved its infield in. Ackerman hit a high pop-up to the infield that was caught. Next up, Kobe Lovell hit a bouncer to the right side, and a throw home got away from the catcher. Moments later, the second and third runs of the inning scored on the aforementioned infield out.

Kloss’ bunt was a little like his sprint around third. He put it down, then simply ran hard to his destination.

“I got the bunt down. I got the job done, and I didn’t care if I was safe or out. I just put my head down and ran hard to first,” he said.

Give the Pirates credit, however, for checking all the boxes. And to Ackerman, who gave the Frogs few chances to score.

“I felt like the last three games, I’ve been able to spot it up wherever I’ve put it,” said the 2016 Morningside College graduate. “I throw a lot of two-seam fastballs.”

Ackerman said college taught him that it doesn’t matter how hard you throw -- that there’s a lot more to pitching than velocity. Beating a dangerous opponent like Lakefield in the first game of a series is key, he said.

“You play a good team like Lakefield and have a good showing, it’s always fun,” said Ackerman. “They’re a quality lineup, have good hitters all up and down the lineup.”

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The Windom Pirates dugout comes out to celebrate a three-run lead over Lakefield Wednesday night. Windom won the game, 8-0. (Tim Middagh/The 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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