MW baseball: West steals wild first game 20-19, drops second 17-5 to Riverland

WORTHINGTON -- As a college baseball doubleheader, it had everything. Hits, walks, errors, arguments, runs -- a lot of runs!Quality, however, was not in abundance.The first game of Tuesday's doubleheader at Worthington's college field between the...

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Minnesota West's Jahn Muriel (6) leaps to catch a wild throw at third base, but can't bring it down in the Blue Jays victory over Riverland in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Tuesday in Worthington. (Tim Middagh / Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- As a college baseball doubleheader, it had everything. Hits, walks, errors, arguments, runs -- a lot of runs!
Quality, however, was not in abundance.
The first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at Worthington’s college field between the Riverland Blue Devils and the Minnesota West Bluejays featured 39 runs and plenty of everything else -- much of it not good.
And it ended in a somewhat surprising Minnesota West victory, 20-19.
The second game was won by Riverland 17-5 in five innings, as West committed seven errors.
“No focus,” said Bluejays head coach TD Hostikka.
Minnesota West trailed Riverland 18-13 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning of the first game, whereupon the Bluejays used a triple by Jahn Muriel and a three-run home run by Rey Torres (his second of the game) to put seven on the board. After Riverland could produce only one run in the top of the seventh, West escaped with a one-run win.
The game featured a lot of substitute players, especially pitchers. Last weekend the Bluejays clinched first place in the MCAC Southern Division and earned themselves an automatic bid into the regional tournament in St. Cloud. Riverland, the No. 2 team in the division, had more to play for. It still hadn’t qualified for regional play.
Not that West could afford to play loose, either. The Jays wanted to win for regional seeding purposes.
In the early stages of the game, however, West struggled. Riverland scored two runs in the top of the first inning on a double error, then scored two more en route to a five-spot on the first of two Jason McClenahan home runs.
Neither pitching staff, actually, could hold the other team. Riverland had nine hits in the first three innings and 11 runs. West scored 10 in the first three innings highlighted by a second-inning homer by Brian Alvarez Mejia and another four-bagger by Philip Olivero in the third.
Both teams made several miscues in the field. Riverland’s mistakes were a constant source of irritation for its head coach, Scott Koenigs, who berated his players loudly and repeatedly. Adding injury to insult, one of his pitchers was thrown out of the game in the middle of the third inning for ignoring the base umpire’s request to avoid unnecessary delays between pitches.
Late in the game, the absurdity of the contest caused Hostikka to smile as he headed to take up his position at the third base coach’s box.
“It’s a softball game,” he said to spectators beyond the fence. “A slow-pitch softball game.”
That it ended well for West was a testament to fortitude and two late-inning pitching decisions. Hostikka called on Worthington High School grad Nathan Braaksma in the fifth, and he pitched two innings of shutout ball to get the win. Closer Eric Pachero entered in the seventh to get the save.
“I wasn’t looking to lose today,” Hostikka said. “But once I had a chance to win, I took it.”
In the second game, Luis Hernandez took the loss for West, but it wasn’t all his fault. Only two of the nine runs he allowed were earned. Meanwhile, Nathaniel Owens went 2-for-2 at the plate for the Bluejays, and teammate Andres Lopez had one hit and three RBIs.
Next up for the Bluejays is the regional tournament in a little more than a week. By then, their top pitchers should be rested and ready to go.

Riverland 524 340 1 -- 19 15 4
Minnesota West 316 037 x -- 20 16 5
Riverland 4(10)3 00 -- 17 7 3
Minnesota West 023 00 -- 5 7 7


Related Topics: BASEBALL
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
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