WORTHINGTON -- Reynaldo Paniagua couldn’t really explain it, other to say that he showed up at the ball park Saturday afternoon just feeling good.
“I wasn’t hitting good this season. But today I came to bat with a lot of confidence,” he said. “Hugging the plate, trying to hit the ball hard somewhere. Just try to have a better approach at the plate.”
Paniagua grounded hard to shortstop in his first at bat against St. James Area. It was in his next two plate appearances that the junior left-fielder got something to show for his confident attitude. The Trojans were trailing 4-0 in the fifth inning when Paniagua drilled a one-out, bases-loaded double against the left-centerfield fence to drive home three runs. Then in the sixth inning, with the score tied 4-4, he stroked a hard single down the left-field line to score two more.
His five RBIs were instrumental in helping WHS to a 7-4 come-from-behind victory over the Saints in Worthington.
Through four and a half innings, things were not looking at all good for the Trojans. St. James starting pitcher Kobe Mohwinkel fired a perfect game at the home team through the first four innings, and when the Saints plated three runs in the top of the fifth to lead by four, Worthington needed to make something happen fast.
The rescue came quickly. Adam Russell led off with Worthington’s half of the fifth with a single, and Hunter Boomgarden reached on an infield error. After a bunt by Ben Rogers led to a force out at third, catcher Tommy Lais belted an opposite-field line drive single to right-field to load the bases. That’s when Paniagua delivered his three-run double, with Lais sliding home barely beating a tag for the third run. After a walk to Daniel Pavelko, Turner Rogers slugged an RBI double that the right-fielder got a glove on while running to the fence but couldn’t hold.
Three more runs came home in the sixth. Ben Rogers hit a two-out single before Lais hit a ground ball so hard that it scooted through both the St. James shortstop and the left-fielder, scoring one. Paniagua’s liner added two insurance runs.
“We were very, very flat for a good portion of that game,” said WHS head coach Brian Iverson. “And some of our guys who are very good hitters weren’t hitting, and some other guys stepped up to the plate and got some hits for us.”
Turner Rogers started the game for Worthington on the pitcher’s mound. He was relieved by Ben Rogers in the fourth. Russell came on in the fifth to earn the victory.
Mohwinkel, after his outstanding first four innings, allowed six hits in the final two.
The win pushed the Trojans -- who host Adrian on Monday -- to 6-12 on the spring, and they’re playing much better, much more consistent baseball nowadays after starting the season in a funk.
“I think we just woke up. Now we come to the field wanting to play baseball, having confidence,” said Paniagua.
St. James Area 010 030 0 -- 4 7 2
Worthington 000 043 x -- 7 6 3