Luverne fends off Truman in district

SPRINGFIELD – It’s a good thing for Luverne baseball fans that hard-throwing pitcher Connor Crabtree does not have triskaidekaphobia.

Crabtree, who sports the No. 13 jersey, recorded 11 strikeouts to pace his complete-game pitching performance as American Legion Post 123 fended off Truman Post 115’s late-innings comeback bid, 8-6, during first-round Division II, 2nd District playoff action on Friday at Riverside Park.

Truman faces Heron Lake-Okabena in an 11 a.m. elimination game today back in Springfield. Minnesota Lake rallied to hold off HLO, 8-5, during Friday’s opening round. Luverne battles Minnesota Lake today in a 5 p.m. winners-bracket contest at Riverside Park.

“One earned run,” said Truman head coach Dave Shoen. “We gave up eight runs today, and how many were earned? One.

“We’re definitely going to have to play better defense (today) if we expect to keep playing in the district tournament.”

Luverne capitalized on seven Truman miscues by executing flawlessly in producing three sacrifice flies and two sacrifice bunts to manufacture a solo run in the top of the second, two more in the third, four in the fateful fourth and one more in the fifth.

Ironically, Nick Harder’s bloop single generated Luverne’s initial run during the second frame before Crabtree and battery mate catcher Jakob Olson delivered back-to-back sacrifice flies in the third.

Jesse Reed and Connor Sandbulte’s singles, combined with five Post 115 errors opened the Post 123 floodgates for four more tallies. Nick Overgaard’s sacrifice fly in the fifth capped Luverne’s run production.

Crabtree held Truman scoreless on only one hit – Ethan Hurn’s first-inning single – through the first four frames before Post 115 starting pitcher Derek Shoen ended his mound counterpart’s shutout bid in the home half of the fifth.

No. 9 batter Quintin Greier, who drew four consecutive walks on the game, reached second base on Josh Wolter’s groundout before Shoen lined an RBI single up the middle to slice Truman’s gap to 8-1.

Post 115 then manufactured two runs in the sixth. Tristan Maday singled before Garrett Balcom and Greier each walked to load the bases with two out.

Josh Wolter received an RBI when he got plunked by Crabtree before Shoen was issued a bases-loaded walk for another run. Crabtree notched a pivotal strikeout to escape further damage in the sixth.

Zach Wolter then lined a leadoff single back through the box to get Truman’s batting order revved up in the seventh.

Crabtree got an infield popout before pinch hitter Mitchell Prafke walked and Maday singled to left to jam the bases with Post 115 runners.

Balcom’s hard-hit grounder to second was bobbled and then thrown away to allow Zach Wolter and Prafke to cross the plate and pare their deficit to 8-5.

Greier walked again to load the bases for Josh Wolter, who launched a towering flyball to just in front of the 375-foot sign in left-center to plate Maday to whittle Luverne’s lead to two.

“If he (Josh Wolter) hits that in nearly any other park in the area, it’s a walk-off grand slam home run,” said Dave Hurn. “But it’s a big ballpark, and it held it in today.”

Shoen took the loss, allowing seven runs – just one earned – on three hits in four frames. Shoen fanned five, walked two and hit two batters.

Zach Wolter gave up one unearned run in 1-plus shutout inning of relief for Truman. Wolter walked two, struck out one and hit one batter.

Greier closed out the final two frames in shutout fashion, did not allow a hit, struck out one and walked one.

Crabtree issued nine walks and hit one batter to offset his 11 strikeouts in seven innings of work. The Luverne right-hander gave up six runs – only three earned – on five hits to net the complete-game victory.

LUV 012 410 0 – 8 3 3

TRU 000 012 3 – 6 5 7

Connor Crabtree (WP) and Jakob Olson. Derek Shoen (LP), Zach Wolter (5), Quintin Greier (6) and Ethan Hurn.

LOB-Truman 11, Luverne 3. SF-Josh Wolter (TRU), Crabtree (LUV), Olson (LUV), Nick Overgaard (LUV). SAC-Declan Beers (LUV), Kaden Erickson (LUV).

Springfield 7, Winnebago/Blue Earth 6 – Host Post 257 capitalized on four Post 82/Post 89 errors to plate five fifth-inning runs to rally for a one-run first-round district playoff victory on Friday in Springfield.

Winnebago/Blue Earth (8-3) faces Wabasso today in a 2 p.m. elimination game back at Riverside Park.

Springfield takes on Adrian in an 8 p.m. winners-bracket game tonight in Springfield.

Alan Davids drilled a two-run triple during the top of the third inning to stake WBE to a 2-1 lead before Springfield scored a solo run in the home half of the third to tie the game.

Kolt Gorg hammered a two-run double, Zac Schonrock lined an RBI single and Cole Hendricksen received a bases-loaded RBI walk to fuel WBE’s four-run fourth at-bat to take a 6-2 lead.

Davids allowed seven runs – only two earned – on four hits in six innings of work to absorb the tough loss. Davids struck out six, walked two and hit two batters.

WBE 002 400 0 – 6 7 4

SPF 101 050 x – 7 4 1