WORTHINGTON -- Isaiah Noble scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Brock Bruns, and the Worthington Junior Legion baseball team edged visiting Luverne 7-6 Monday night to improve to 9-3 overall and 4-0 in conference play.
The game began as if it were destined to be an easy win for the home team. But a 6-0 lead became 6-6 in the sixth inning.
No matter. The local Junior Legionnaires used clutch hitting and clutch pitching to get the victory.
After a four-run sixth by Luverne, Worthington answered in the bottom of the inning as Noble led off with a single. Noble was sacrificed to second base by Daniel Pavelko, and he went to third on a wild pitch. Bruns belted a high fly ball to center field that scored Noble.
Then in the top of the seventh, Bruns went to work on the pitcher’s mound, getting Luverne 1-2-3 on a fly out to left field, a fly out to center field, and a soft liner to shortstop.
Noble, Michael Iverson, Damon Schutz and Tate Gaul each had two hits for the winners, who pounded out nine altogether against four Luverne pitchers.
Worthington got a strong start from Blake Ahrensdorff who threw five and one-third innings before giving way to Schutz. Bruns finished up to get the win.
Ahrensdorff finally began to tire in the sixth, but when he left the mound Worthington still maintained a 6-2 lead. Schutz entered in a tough situation with the bases loaded, and he walked the first three batters he faced. Bruns stopped the bleeding by getting an infield out and a ground out to end the inning, but not before the sixth Luverne run crossed the plate.
All in all, it was a good night for Worthington, which righted itself in time -- and for Ahrensdorff and Bruns, who pitched with confidence.
“I think tonight I did really good. Toward the end I was starting to get tired,” said Ahrensdorff, who added that his goal was to stay focused.
“Keep my cool and throw it over the plate, and trust my defense to get the outs,” he said.
Bruns was happy the team righted itself in time.
“Our team is pretty good at that. If we have a couple guys get rattled, we always seem to calm each other down,” he explained. “It was very nice (to win), especially against Luverne. Any time you beat them it’s a good team win.”
Worthington scored twice in each of the first three innings. Schutz drove in one of the runs in a first inning that also saw some shaky Luverne defense. A two-out infield hit in the second inning by Bruns scored another run, and Iverson scored the second run of the inning on a double. In the third, Gaul’s RBI single scored a run, and Noble hit a two-out RBI double.
“We didn’t play well in that sixth inning,” said Worthington coach TD Hostikka. “But we stayed within ourselves and we didn’t freak out and didn’t panic. And then we scored the run in the sixth.”
Luverne 000 204 0 -- 6 4 2
Worthington 222 001 x -- 7 9 3