Closing the door: Pitchers are impressive in Junior, Senior Legion baseball victories
Using superlative pitching from six pitchers, the Worthington Legion baseball teams controlled Lamberton and R-T-R on Thursday
WORTHINGTON -- The operative word in Thursday night’s American Legion baseball doubleheader was “pitching.”
In the first game at The Swamp, Worthington’s Junior Legion squad defeated Lamberton 6-1 to improve to 3-1 on the summer campaign, and in the nightcap the Senior Legion team rolled to a 4-1 win over Russell-Tyler-Ruthton to advance to 7-0.
Holdyn Sheppard, Max Ostrem and Tucker Brandner combined in the first game on a three-hitter. Blake Ahrenstorff, Jake Brandner and Triston Sauerbrei combined in the second game on a five-hitter, with the only run scored against Worthington coming in the seventh inning as the result of an error.
All six pitchers performed with distinction.
Tucker Brandner is working on a streak.
“He’s thrown nine and a third innings of hitless baseball,” said Junior Legion head coach TD Hostikka, hearkening back to last Thursday’s seven-inning no-hitter against Edgerton, where Brandner struck out 16 batters.
“He’s commanded the zone. And he’s thrown all of his pitches for strikes. I don’t call his pitches, I’ll call locations. And he hits his spots,” Hostikka said.
In the Senior Legion game, Ahrenstorff got the start and pitched three scoreless frames, stranding two runners in the second inning and getting all three outs on strikeouts. He set R-T-R down 1-2-3 in the third.
Jake Brandner followed Ahrenstorff and Sauerbrei followed Brandner. Sauerbrei confused the opposing club continually with a sharp breaking ball that started at the hitter and broke over the plate. In the sixth inning, he whiffed one of R-T-R’s top hitters, Aiden Wichmann, with a curveball that had the batter buckling before he was called out by the umpire. It was the third out of the inning and it stranded a runner on second base.
“I felt like it was moving a lot today. Over the last month it’s been moving better,” Brandner said about his breaker.
“All three of them did an excellent job,” coach Tim Gaul summed up about his pitchers. He made special note of Sauerbrei.
“Triston is just -- it’s like having a security blanket,” he said. “Amazing. And it’s been that way (for a while). … He’s like an old soul. A wily vet. He’ll be a senior next year (in high school).”
In the early game against Lamberton at the Worthington baseball field next to the middle school, Cody Grimmius drilled a pair of RBI doubles for the home team. It was a game, said Hostikka, where it was hard to complain about anything.
“In the three wins, we played every part of the game right -- pitching, hitting and defense,” he boasted. “And you can’t ask for more than that. And they run the bases well. And in our three wins, we also have no errors.”
Russell-Tyler-Ruthton brought a very talented Senior Legion squad into Worthington Thursday. Many of those same players played for the Section 3A high school championship only a week earlier.
But they couldn’t get the hits against Worthington. Meanwhile, Post 5 scored a single run in the bottom of the third inning on a Tate Gaul double, then added another in the fifth on a two-out double by Kent Lais and an opposite-field RBI single by Coy Turner. Two insurance runs were plated in the sixth after two outs -- the big hits coming from Ahrenstorff and Jake Brandner.
Both Worthington teams returned to action Friday with weekend tournaments, the juniors at Hutchinson and the seniors at Sioux Falls, S.D.
Lamberton 000 010 0 -- 1-3-2
Worthington 002 031 x -- 6-6-0
R-T-R 000 000 1 -- 1-5-2
Worthington 001 012 x -- 4-8-3