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Prep baseball: Luverne edges WHS in nine

WORTHINGTON -- A four-run ninth inning broke visiting Luverne free from an upset-minded Worthington outfit Thursday in a Big South Conference baseball clash, allowing the Cardinals to escape, 7-3. The host Trojans, 2-10 entering the contest, gave...

Trojans vs Luverne Baseball 5 web.jpg
Luverne Cardinals base runner Jake Haugen slides safely at third base Thursday as Worthington's Brayden Donkersloot (11) takes a throw. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

 

 

WORTHINGTON -- A four-run ninth inning broke visiting Luverne free from an upset-minded Worthington outfit Thursday in a Big South Conference baseball clash, allowing the Cardinals to escape, 7-3.

The host Trojans, 2-10 entering the contest, gave a 9-1 LHS outfit everything it could handle.

“We battled,” said WHS head coach Brian Iverson. “We’re not a 2-10 team. When we throw strikes, we compete. Rusty (starting pitcher Adam Russell) threw a great game, and we had our chances.”

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Russell twirled the first six innings, walking six and allowing six hits, but making good pitches to keep several potential Luverne scorers from crossing the plate. He got help from his defense, most specifically sophomore catcher Tommy Lais who threw out a runner at third base in the second inning after a wild pitch, cut down another at home in the sixth after another wild pitch, and also erased a runner attempting to steal second for the third out in the eighth inning.

Worthington scored all its runs in the first inning off Luverne starter Quinn Buss and reliever Isaiah Bartels, taking advantage of a hit batter and two errors. Michael Iverson and Russell had hits in the inning.

Luverne came back with two in the second and one in the sixth.

Ben Rogers relieved Russell to start the seventh. The Cardinals finally got to him in the top of the ninth as Gaige Nath started a rally with a one-out double in the right-centerfield gap. He took third on a passed ball and scored when pinch-hitting sophomore Cade Wenninger drilled a soft line drive single over shortstop. Colby Crabtree was hit by a pitch and Ben Serie followed with a double to the left-centerfield fence. Bartels rapped a two-run single.

Worthington didn’t quit, getting singles from Brayden Donkersloot and Turner Rogers in the last half of the ninth. But Jake Haugen -- one of six Luverne pitchers head coach Mike Wenninger used -- got the final out and the win for the Cardinals’ 10th triumph of the spring.

Coach Wenninger said he wasn’t surprised at all that the Trojans hung tough.

“Twenty-four years,” said the veteran skipper. “That includes summer baseball and school baseball. And Worthington’s always a joy to play. They win some, we win some.

“They kept us stymied. We couldn’t muster anything,” he said about the first eight innings.

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That’s not to say he was satisfied with it.

“I just think there’s more to offer,” said the coach following a lengthy discussion with his team beyond the first base bag. “When we half-swing on hitter’s counts, we get two strikes on us early. And that’s a credit to their pitchers.”

On the other side of the field, Coach Iverson chastised himself for not sending a runner home from third base late in the game when he may have had a chance to score. He also lamented the fact that because of poor spring weather and the fact that the Trojans must share the junior high field with Minnesota West this year, his team’s practice time at the home field is sporadic.

“This is a gauge to say where we’re at. We’re improving, even though we’re not getting out and getting our practice time,” he said. “We’re hitting the ball around. We didn’t strike out a whole bunch. We just need to put a few hits together. With a break here and there, we would have got one. It just didn’t go that way.”

Luverne 020 001 004 -- 7 13 3

Worthington 300 000 000 -- 3 7 2

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