Legion baseball: Worthington falls just a bit short
MILROY -- Even though it looked like Willmar had it in the bag, Worthington made it sweat. Post 5 was down by seven going into the top of the ninth. Three runs and another trio on base meant they suddenly had the tying run at the plate with two outs.
MILROY - Even though it looked like Willmar had it in the bag, Worthington made it sweat.
Post 5 was down by seven going into the top of the ninth. Three runs and another trio on base meant they suddenly had the tying run at the plate with two outs.
“I’m proud of the way we never quit,” Worthington head coach Brad Shaffer said. “We were down by seven in the last inning and we still got the tying run to the plate. We just couldn’t come through with that big hit.”
Unfortunately for Post 5, that was the end of the rally. A flyball to third ended the game and their season with a 14-10 loss in the elimination bracket of the Zone 15-Division 1 Tournament.
Despite the loss and the early exit from the playoffs, Shaffer felt his team will benefit from this summer’s up-and-down season.
“All of our guys - for school and for Legion next year because most of them will be back - got some great experience dealing with adversity,” he said. “Just knowing that they can come back from behind and put pressure on teams even when they’re behind is going to help them moving forward. If they can carry that into next year, then I think this year’s been a success.”
A five-run bottom of the eighth pushed Post 167’s lead from 9-7 to 14-7 with Worthington going into its final at-bat. The rally started with walks to pinch-hitters Joe Pavelko and Easton Sauerbrei. Logan Thuringer eventually reached on a wild pitch that also allowed Pavelko to score the first run of the inning.
Torey Rogers trailed him with an RBI single before Trevor Wietzema cracked a laser to left that scored Thuringer and cut the deficit to 14-10. Nate Russell drew a two-out walk to load the bases before the game ended.
“I told the guys that every team loses the last game of the year,” Shaffer said. “We just happened to lose sooner than we had liked. But this game showed that these guys didn’t lie down as the 8-seed. That says something about their character.”
Through the first few innings it looked like Post 5 might run away with it. They got on the board right away in the first. Wietzema, Roque Soto and Russell ripped three straight singles. Wietzema scored on the last one to put Post 5 on top 1-0.
They added to that in the second when King Blanchette got a rally going with a one-out double. He scored when Thuringer dropped in a bloop single down the right field line. After Rogers cracked a basehit, two straight Willmar errors allowed Thuringer and Rogers to score, staking Post 5 to a 4-0 lead going into the bottom of the second.
After Thuringer scored to extend the lead to 5-1, Willmar chipped away in the bottom of the fourth. A two-out double to right scored two to cut the Post 5 advantage to 5-3. Two more in the bottom of the fifth after three straight singles knotted it up.
“It was one of those games that seems to go in streaks,” Shaffer said. “We played really well at the beginning. Really, other than a few exceptions, I thought we played well the entire game. We struggled to get the big hit again when we needed it, though.”
Post 167 took the lead for the first time in the home half of the sixth. Adam Nibauer opened the inning with a hot shot down the third base line. He rounded first and went hard looking for a double. The throw to second sailed wide and he ended up on third. He scored seconds later on a wild pitch to set the score at 6-5 in favor of Willmar. A two-out Texas Leaguer to right by Trae Murphy pushed two more home and suddenly Worthington was down 8-5.
Post 5 wasn’t done as they got a couple back in the top of the seventh. Soto started it with solo blast over the left field fence to lead off the inning. Singles for Blake Fauskee and Will Mulder sandwiched around a Blanchette walk loaded the bases with two outs when Thuringer hit a grounder to short. The first baseman mis-handled the throw, allowing Fauskee to score and get Worthington within one at 8-7.
That was as close as it got. Willmar added one in the seventh and five more in the eighth to put the game away.
Brandon Veen took the loss in relief for Post 5. In 2 1/3 innings he surrendered seven runs - four earned - on seven hits, struck out three and walked one. Soto started and went the first five, giving up five earned on seven hits and fanning one.
“I thought Roque pitched well,” Shaffer said. “Brandon struggled a little at first but he found the zone and gave us a couple good innings.”
Soto went 3-for-6 with a home run, a run scored and an RBI. Wietzema was 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI with Thuringer adding a 2-for-6 showing that included three runs and an RBI. Rogers had two hits, a run and an RBI while Blanchette went 1-for-3 with a double and a run.
R H E
Wor. 130 100 203 - 10 14 3
Wil. 001 223 15x - 14 17 4