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VFW baseball: Paniagua displays outfield arm in win over Slayton

WORTHINGTON -- Post 3958 baseball coach TD Hostikka likes to put Reynaldo Paniagua in the outfield. "He thinks he's an infielder," he confided to a reporter. After Monday night's VFW game in Worthington, however, Paniagua seemed ready to switch. ...

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Worthington VFW baseball coach TD Hostikka (center) discusses strategy during Monday night's baseball game against Slayton at the local middle school field. Worthington won the game that was called in the fifth inning due to a wet field. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)

 

 

WORTHINGTON -- Post 3958 baseball coach TD Hostikka likes to put Reynaldo Paniagua in the outfield.

“He thinks he’s an infielder,” he confided to a reporter.

After Monday night’s VFW game in Worthington, however, Paniagua seemed ready to switch. In the fourth inning of the game, the WHS junior-to-be threw out a runner at the plate to squelch a Slayton scoring opportunity.

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It was the third time this summer that Paniagua threw out a base runner at home.

“He is as raw and green as they come,” Hostikka described his left fielder with a twinkle in his eye. “But he hustles real well and he’s like a sponge.”

He’s also got a strong throwing arm, excellent quickness, and gets good reads defensively.

Monday’s game was called off with one out in the bottom of the fifth inning with Post 3958 leading 7-2. The Worthingtonians had already scored two runs in the frame on a night of light drizzling rain. When managers from both teams stopped the game to inspect the pitcher’s mound, it was declared too slippery to continue. Game over.

It was an odd game. Slayton out-hit Worthington 7-3 in the contest, but the visitors committed four errors and demonstrated wildness on the mound.

Hostikka wasn’t happy with the lack of hits Worthington was able to manufacture.

“I don’t think we got good swings. Typically, our guys hit the ball a lot harder,” he said. “But we ran the bases pretty well. And we played good defense.”

Paniagua’s play in left field was one of the highlights. The putout at home plate was just another feather in the cap for him.

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“I was surprised I actually did (throw him out), ‘cuz the ball was wet,” Paniagua said later. “And Tommy (catcher Tom Lais) helped me out by putting on a good tag.”

He added: “It feels great when you do it. You come into the dugout and everybody says, ‘What a cannon!’ That’s the best part.”

The outfield, then, is starting to make sense to Paniagua these days.

“I’ve never played outfield this much. I’m usually playing the infield, a lot of shortstop,” he said. “I think I’m going to like it. I think I might ask Mr. Sauerbrei (the high school coach) that maybe he can move me to the outfield.”

On Monday, Worthington plated two runs in the bottom of the first inning off starting pitcher Nate Everson helped with a single by Will Brandner and a double by Lais. There were three stolen bases in the inning.

Worthington collected only one more hit for the rest of the game. But it didn’t matter. After Everson left the mound after four innings, reliever Spencer Wajer had difficulty finding the plate -- obviously due in part to the wet mound and wet baseballs.

Slayton scored its only two runs in the second inning. One run was walked in, and the other was scored on an infield hit by Danny Blankenship.

Michael Iverson and Brock Bruns both pitched two innings for Post 3958. Nathan Van Orman pitched the fifth.

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Worthington's Dan Pavelko (29) crosses the plate as the ball gets by Slayton catcher Abe Paulzine Monday night. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)

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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