Worthington Jr., Sr. Legion teams rally after slow starts
WORTHINGTON -- For some reason, both the Worthington Junior Legion and the Senior Legion baseball teams have experienced many slow starts this summer. But, for the most part, they’ve won.
The same scenario played out Thursday night in a doubleheader against Minneota at Worthington’s middle school field. Junior Legion starting pitcher Jake Brandner surrendered three straight singles to start the game, and Minneota scored three times in the top of the first inning. Worthington won the game, 12-5.
In the Senior Legion game, Worthington starting pitcher Tate Gaul gave up two hits before the first out was made, and Minneota plated two runs. Worthington won the game, however, 11-5.
“I think it took us a little bit to get started. We’re a slow-starting team,” said Senior Legion coach Tim Gaul immediately after the contest.
But he was smiling anyway. “Once they got in their rhythm and got into their approach at the plate, you saw them getting some timely hits,” he said.
Worthington 12, Minneota 5
The locals didn’t wait long to get into their groove. They scored two runs in the bottom of the first on a sacrifice fly by Cooper McCoy and an RBI single by Coy Turner, then added three in the second on an infield RBI hit by Triston Sauerbrei and a two-run double by Blake Ahrenstorff.
Brandner pitched well overall, allowing seven hits and four runs over six innings of work. Turner finished up.
In the second inning Brandner stranded Minneota base runners on second and third base. In the third, he stranded two more.
Meanwhile, Worthington added two runs in the fourth and four in the fifth. Sauerbrei and Ahrenstorff singled in the fourth and a pair of Minneota passed balls contributed to the two-run inning. Trent Dykstra singled in a run in the fifth, and more Minneota defensive mistakes led to trouble.
A McCoy double and a hard Mason Schutz single highlighted Worthington’s sixth, where the team’s 12th run crossed the plate.
R H E
Minneota 300 100 1 -- 5 8 5
Worthington 230 241 x -- 12 10 2
Worthington 11, Minneota 5
It was a long night for Minneota, made even longer when the light standards blacked out with two outs in the fifth inning, causing a 20-minute delay before play could be resumed.
By then, Worthington had things well in hand.
Gaul had himself a solid four-inning outing where he allowed five hits and three runs. Michael Iverson motored confidently through two innings, and Will Brandner baffled Minneota hitters with his fastball in the seventh.
Worthington’s bats were impressive in a 13-hit effort. Catcher Tommy Lais hit everything on the screws in a three-hit night, which included an RBI double in the third inning. Brandner had three hits while Danny Pavelko and Aaron Vega each had two.
Coach Gaul said he was especially impressed with Vega, whose second hit was a two-run double. The speedy Vega often energizes the Legion squad when he’s inserted into the middle of games, and on Thursday he did it with both his bat and his speed.
After scoring their first run in the bottom of the first on a two-out single by Brandner and an Iverson RBI single, the locals added three in the third helped by a Brandner RBI single and Lais’ double. In the fourth, a costly Minneota error allowed two runs to score. In a four-run sixth, both Vega and Nathan Van Orman hit ringing two-baggers.
With the win, Worthington moved its record to 11-2-1.
R H E
Minneota 200 110 1 -- 5 6 6
Worthington 103 214 x -- 11 13 1