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Royal pain: Ruthton rallies to beat Cubs, 12-10

The Worthington Cubs led Ruthton 10-4 with just one inning remaining, but the Ruthton Royals scored eight runs in the seventh to prevail at the Cubs' 2022 home opener

The Worthington Cubs' Eli Gaul (7) is safe as Ruthton's Brent Wiering (3) has a throw bounce off his glove Sunday in Worthington.
The Worthington Cubs' Eli Gaul (7) is safe as Ruthton's Brent Wiering (3) has a throw bounce off his glove Sunday in Worthington.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- What looked like a sure victory in the Worthington Cubs’ seven-inning home opener turned into a disheartening loss Sunday afternoon at the middle school baseball field.

After putting seven runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Cubs took a 10-4 lead into the seventh. That’s where they surrendered eight and succumbed, 12-10, to Ruthton.

Worthington Cubs player-manager Ryan Swanson (25) gives pitcher Nathan Van Orman (20) a high five after walks load up the Bases and he pitches strike outs to end the inning.
Worthington Cubs player-manager Ryan Swanson (25) gives pitcher Nathan VanOrman (20) a high five after he strikes out two with the bases loaded in the fifth inning.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

The loss dropped the Cubs to 0-2 on the young season.

They did many things well on Sunday. They gathered 14 hits against three Ruthton pitchers, and among those were many clutch hits, which included a three-run home run by player-coach Ryan Swanson in the first inning. The second Cubs pitcher, Nathan VanOrman, returned from a nagging injury that sabotaged his spring season at Northern State University and pitched well. But Tyler Linder struggled with his control to begin the seventh, and the Royals became a royal pain to the home team on a beautiful, sunny day.

Two walks and a hit loaded the bases for Ruthton with nobody out in the final frame. With one out, another walk forced in a run. Thena pop fly was hit for the second out, and it looked as if the Cubs could easily contain the threat.

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But the next hitter cracked a high bounding ball to Worthington third-baseman Ryan Lee, and Lee could not get it on a tough hop as another run scored. A double by Shay Wabeke and an infield hit by Eric Wiering prolonged the inning. A hit batter on an 0-2 pitch loaded the bases again, then another hit batter forced in another run. A high fly ball to right-field from Jordan Beck’s bat fell for a hit, scoring the Royals’ 11th and 12th runs.

Worthington Cubs catcher Tommy Lais leaps over Ruthton Royals runner Jordan Beck after a loose ball at the plate during the season opener in Worthington Sunday.
Worthington Cubs catcher Tommy Lais leaps over Ruthton Royals runner Jordan Beck after a loose ball at the plate Sunday.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

The bases were loaded again when Kent Lais came on to pitch, and he got his first hitter on a called third strike.

Needing two runs to tie in the bottom of the seventh, the Cubs loaded the bases with one out -- on three walks by Ruthton’s Mitchell Biever. But the game ended on a double-play.

It was a tough loss, Swanson agreed. But he recalled some positive things.

“It’s good to see the guys hitting the ball. The first few games of the year, you’re still not in baseball shape. It’s hard sometimes to throw strikes.”

In recent years, the Cubs have earned a reputation as a good-hitting ball club with sometimes-shaky pitching. Swanson believes this 2022 team is better than last year’s team, and he looks forward to adding to his pitching depth when former Worthington High School star Will Brandner returns in June from his freshman year at Morningside College.

Even so, VanOrman’s Sunday performance was promising. He took over for starter Logan Huisman in the fifth inning and twirled two innings without allowing a run. In the fifth, he struck out the last two Ruthton batters with the bases loaded.

VanOrman suffered elbow pain at Aberdeen and didn’t see game action. Now, he seems to be on his way back.

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“It actually felt real good since I actually threw off the mound for the first time in a while,” he said.

For the 33-year-old Swanson, his first-inning home run felt good, too. When you get to a certain age, he said, you wonder sometimes if you can still do it.

“It was a good way to start the game,” he said. “It feels good to be able to still hit. You always wonder when it’s going to shut off.”

Ruthton 110 200 8 -- 12-8-1

Worthington 300 070 0 -- 10-14-4

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 dwolter@dglobe.com.
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