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Section 3AA baseball: Luverne downs Pipestone Area, 7-4

The Luverne High School baseball team scored twice in the first inning and added three more runs in the third inning to give itself a 5-1 cushion over Pipestone Area in the second round of the Section 3AA baseball tournament on Saturday, then held on for a 7-4 victory after the Arrows cut the margin to two runs in the fifth.

052921 N DG Pipestone Arrows Section 2AA baseball Luverne S1.jpg
Pipestone Arrows shortstop Merrick Heidebrink attempts to tag Luverne's Bailey Cowell as he steals second base during Section 3AA baseball game hosted by Luverne Saturday afternoon. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

LUVERNE -- The Luverne High School baseball team scored twice in the first inning and added three more runs in the third inning to give itself a 5-1 cushion over Pipestone Area in the second round of the Section 3AA baseball tournament on Saturday, then held on for a 7-4 victory after the Arrows cut the margin to two runs in the fifth.

The win moved LHS -- the No. 1 seed in the southern half of the bracket, into Tuesday's next round of competition, where they'll play a 5 p.m. game in Luverne.

Luverne scored twice in the first off Pipestone Area starting pitcher Austin Johnson on a cold, windy Saturday afternoon. Leadoff hitter Bailey Cowell was hit by Johnson's first pitch, stole second base and waited there as teammate Ethan Beyer was walked with one out. Casey Sehr then hit a line drive single to left field that skipped to the fence, plating two runs.

Pipestone Area scored in the second inning on a two-out chopper over Cardinals pitcher Cade Wenninger that was bobbled at second base, allowing a runner from third to score. But Luverne got three back in the third on an RBI single by Sehr and a two-run triple by Connor Overgaard down the right field line that the Arrows' right fielder dove for and missed.

It looked like Luverne's game all the way at that point, but the Arrows scored three in the fifth helped by two Luverne errors and a wild pitch. Pipestone Area pinch hitter Jayden Houselog's RBI single was a key hit in the inning.

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Wenninger pitched four and two-thirds innings and was awarded the win. Connor Connell came on in relief with two outs and runners on first and second base in the fifth and promptly struck out Connor Zephier on three fastballs to end the inning. He kept the Arrows at bay in the sixth and seventh frames.

Though the Cardinals are ranked No. 3 in the state among Class AA teams and first in Section 3AA South, LHS head coach Mike Wenninger said he's never sure what he's going to get from his team. Mistakes in the field -- which often pile up in one bad inning -- have threatened the Cards all spring.

"We're our own worst enemy, and you give Pipestone credit because they're going down with a battle," he said.

But he also credited his own team, which moved to 19-3 with the victory.

"Our pitchers threw strikes for the most part. Cade got us where we want to be and Connor did a great job of closing the door," said the coach.

R-H-E

Pipestone Area 010 030 0 -- 4 6 2

Luverne 203 101 x -- 7 8 4

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