Warriors crush Bluejays

WORTHINGTON -- The wheels just keep coming off for the Minnesota West Bluejays. Facing the MCCC southern division-leading Ridgewater Warriors in a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon, the Bluejays had a good look at where they want to be, as Ridgewate...

WORTHINGTON -- The wheels just keep coming off for the Minnesota West Bluejays.

Facing the MCCC southern division-leading Ridgewater Warriors in a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon, the Bluejays had a good look at where they want to be, as Ridgewater played smart, fundamentally sound baseball in claiming both games by scores of 12-1 and 13-4, respectively.

"We kind of have the motto that we just want to pitch, play defense, score some runs and take care of business," Ridgewater head coach Dwight Kotila said following the games. "We were able to do that today. It's hard to stay up for these games, having already clinched the southern division title, but the kids know why we're out here, and they have done a great job of staying focused."

Game 1

Despite giving up three runs in the top of the first on hits by Tyler Horning, Brad Olson and Nathan Alfson, the Bluejays hung tough against the Warriors (13-2, 26-4) in the early going.


In the bottom of the inning, Bluejay left fielder Lon Eichenberger was hit by a Rodeck pitch -- giving MW a base runner with no one out. A sacrifice bunt off the bat of Adam Feller put Eichenberger in scoring position on second, where he was knocked in moments later on a double to right field by Andrew DeBoer -- cutting the deficit to two runs at 3-1.

MW starter Ryan Swanson (six earned runs, nine hits and one walk over 5 2/3 innings) and the Bluejay defense shut the Warriors down in the second, but Ridgewater mounted a strong charge in the top of the third.

Alfson, a Pipestone Area product, began the rally with a one-out single to left and was spelled from running the base paths by courtesy runner Andy Turbak. The sophomore quickly stole second and was promptly plated by Tyler Steen, who smashed a triple to the corner of the park in right. Mike Riewer followed with an RBI single to left and the Warriors had a 5-1 advantage.

"The game is so much faster than high school," said Alfson, who helped the Pipestone Area Arrows reach the state tournament last season. "It took some time to get used to the speed of the college game, but we have a great bunch of guys here, and they all work together well. I think we should have a good run in the playoffs."

After giving up an early run, Ridgewater starter Ryan Rodeck (one earned run on five hits, eight strikeouts and two walks) found his groove, allowing just two hits the rest of the way.

"My fastball was working well, but it took me a couple of innings to get my curve going," said Rodeck, who is 3-1 on the year. "The defense played well behind me all game and has done a great job all year."

While Rodeck was hitting his spots and letting the defense back him up, the Bluejays started struggling in the field. An error at third base allowed the Warriors to knock in another run in the top of the fourth, and a lead-off single by Steen was capitalized on in the top of the fifth to give Ridgewater a 7-1 advantage heading into the bottom of the inning.

"It was the same story, different day," MW head coach Jeremy Irlbeck said. "The guys get an opportunity and don't execute. Our body language changes, we commit a couple of errors, and the whole thing snowballs."


After getting two quick outs in the top of the sixth, another error gave Alfson first base. The Warriors immediately made the most of the miscue, as Steen cracked another long ball to the right corner of the park for an RBI double -- scoring courtesy runner Turbak and giving Ridgewater an 8-1 lead.

Irlbeck opted to spell Swanson with Chase Bierman, and while the sophomore right hander quickly forced a 5-3 play to get out of the inning, he wasn't greeted kindly in the top of the seventh.

After issuing a lead-off walk, Bierman was tagged by Jeff Brooks for a long RBI double to left. Brooks, who advanced to third on a fielder's choice, later came home on an error at short for a 10-1 Ridgewater advantage.

Brad Olson continued the rally with a towering double to the fence in left, scoring James Gallagher, who reached on the error. Matt Bauer then smashed a long sacrifice fly to right-center field, plating Olson to put the finishing touches on a 12-1 victory.


Ridge. 311 111 4 -- 12 13 2

MW 100 000 0 -- 1 5 4

Game 2


In the nightcap, the Warriors picked up right where they left off, putting the ball in play and demonstrating solid defense.

Jason Dorn earned the victory on the bump for the Warriors, giving up four earned runs on nine hits while striking out six and walking two over six innings.

DeBoer (three strike outs, one walk) suffered the loss for MW (0-12, 3-23) giving up eight runs on eight hits over 1 1/3 innings. Eichenberger threw 4 2/3 innings, giving up five earned runs on seven hits. Eichenberger struck out two and walked two. Darrell Kruger finished the game, giving up one hit while striking out one and walking one batter.

Horning was 3-for-4 at the plate for the Warriors. Olson (2-for-2) and Bauer (4-for-5) each hit a pair of doubles, while Steen went 2-for-5.

Nick Ahrens was 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Trent Anderson also went 2-for-3. DeBoer and Corey Polz each went 1-for-4 with a double for the Bluejays. Feller and Bierman (RBI) each went 1-for-3.

The Bluejays will host the Riverland Blue Devils Saturday for a doubleheader, Game 1 is slated to begin at 1 p.m.


Ridge. 540 013 0 -- 13 16 0


MW 010 030 0 -- 4 9 2

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