Down to final out, Winnebago/Blue Earth comes back to beat Truman

CAUGHT STEALING — Truman catcher Mitch Prafke (9) tags out Winnebago/Blue Earth baserunner Koby Nagel (jumping) trying to steal home on a passed ball during the fifth inning of a Legion baseball matchup in Truman. Truman pitcher Cayden Fischer (right) and the entire WBE bench watch the action. (Photo by Greg Abel)

TRUMAN — There’s no clock to run out in baseball.

Down eight runs with only one out to go, Winnebago/Blue Earth Legion Posts 82 & 89 came back to beat Truman Legion Post 115 14-10 in a nine-inning baseball game Monday night in Truman.

After two groundouts to start the inning, Joseph Schavey got the Posts 82 & 89 offense started when he reached on an error, then Karson Legred hit a single that rolled to the wall in left field, putting Schavey on third.

Anders Fering forced an error on a ground ball to score Schavey and Brayden Barnett hit an infield single and advanced to second on a throwing error.

After a pitching change, Hunter Bleess put an exclamation point on the inning with a home run over the high center-field wall in Truman.

“It felt like a lazy fly ball, I thought he was going to catch it,” Bleess said. “I’m just calling it a wind homer, it got caught up there and kept carrying.”

Koby Nagel then took a walk and Luke Mertens was hit by a pitch to keep the inning going before Keegan O’Brien and Caelan Sanders both walked to bring in another run. The eighth run of the inning and game-tying score came across the plate on a dropped third strike after Schavey struck out and reached first.

Winnebago/Blue Earth then put up five more runs in the top of the ninth inning to build their eventual final total.

O’Brien was hit by a pitch to start the inning and, after he stole second, Sanders attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt, but got down the line fast enough to earn a single without a throw.

Schavey hit a high chopper right in front of the plate to give O’Brien just enough time to score the go-ahead run before Truman pitcher Paxton Gravlin could flip the ball to catcher Mitch Prafke.

After a pitching change, a wild pitch allowed Sanders to score and Legred hit a hard ground ball to force an error and put runners on first and third.

Fering hit a long line drive to center for a sacrifice fly before Barnett reached on a throwing error and Bleess lined the ball through the left side of the infield for a single.

The inning ended when a pop up to second turned into a double play with Bleess too far off of third.

Winnebago/Blue Earth head coach Paul Nienaber said the game was like nothing he had seen before.

“That was definitely different,” Nienaber said. “It’s funny what happens, momentum is crazy. We were down big, truthfully when we came to the ballpark I told the guys I didn’t think we were ready to play. Everybody was kind of low energy, but all of a sudden in that sixth inning, seventh inning, things started happening, one thing led to another and that’s the crazy thing about baseball. You have to play all seven innings, you have to get all 21 outs, it’s not like a football game where the clock can run out. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Before putting 13 unanswered runs on the scoreboard, Posts 82 & 89 had mustered only one run, which came in the sixth inning after Schavey led off with a walk, Legred hit a single that one-hopped the wall in right center and Fering singled through the left side of the infield for an RBI.

Before that, the game was all Truman.

Post 115 put up three runs in both the first and fourth inning, and two more in the sixth.

Prafke led off the home half of the first frame with a high-flying double down the right field line and Owen Wolter followed with a line drive up the middle. Prafke had to give a quick turn back to second in case the line drive was caught, which kept him from scoring on the play, but he crossed the plate when Zach Wolter singled to left center for two RBIs.

Cayden Fischer scored the final run of the inning, after reaching base on a fielder’s choice, when Jaiden Cook hit the first of his three doubles and four hits on the day, this one rolling to the wall in right-center field.

In the fourth, Prafke led off again, this time with a single to center. Owen Wolter followed with a single of his own on a low line drive through the right side of the infield and Quintin Greier walked to load the bases. Zach Wolter got the first run of the frame across with a fielder’s choice before Fischer walked and Cook hit his second double, this one deep down the right field line, for two RBIs.

In the sixth, Jordan Wiederhoeft led off for Post 115 with a walk before Gravlin singled to center. Wiederhoeft scored on a throwing error and Owen Wolter got Gravlin across the plate with a sacrifice fly.

Truman head coach Dave Hurn said he was happy with the offense, but not the defense.

“I thought we hit the ball well, how many doubles did we have?” Hurn asked rhetorically. “They got us in the seventh, that’s baseball. We got some work for our pitchers, having the playoffs start on Thursday we couldn’t afford to have a kid throw a complete game.”

Truman nearly ended the game at multiple points, Post 115 was only three runs away from hitting the 10-run mercy rule in the fifth. With the bases loaded and two outs, WBE pitcher Sanders was able to strike out Cook, one of the two times Cook didn’t get a hit in the matchup, and Legred made a tag at home after a dropped third strike.

In the sixth, after scoring two runs, Post 115 was only two runs away from the mercy rule with runners on first and third, but a pop out ended that inning.

With the game tied in the bottom of the eighth, Truman loaded the bases with two outs, but WBE pitcher Barnett was able to end the jam and, eventually, get the win.

“Caelan is one of those guys who does a really good job mixing his speeds,” Nienaber said. “He does a good job taking a little off here and putting a little more on there, rarely do you see guys square up a ball off him. Brayden is just a, and maybe it makes sense that he’s going into the marines in a couple of months here, that kid is a warrior. He comes to the game, he just loves playing baseball and he will give you everything he’s got. I don’t think he’s pitched in four years, but I looked down the bench and the way the game had gone, we were out of pitching. I looked at him and said, ‘Brayden, you got it?’ And he looked at me and just said, ‘Let’s do it.’

“I told the guys in our meeting after the game, it’s really easy to lead when you’re winning, but it’s tough to lead when you’re losing, and Brayden does that.”

Sanders had a hit and two walks for WBE, while Schavey scored three runs and hit a single. Legred hit three singles and Fering had a single and two RBIs.

Barnett scored two runs and reached base on a single and a walk, while Bleess had a home run and a single. Nagel had a hit, walked twice and was hit by a pitch, while Mertens was hit by two pitches and took a walk. O’Brien rounded out the WBE lineup with a walk and two hit by pitches.

Jared Kennedy started on the mound for Posts 82 & 89, pitching two innings and giving up four runs on six hits. Nagel came in to pitch the next 1 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks. Hunter Bleess completed the fourth inning, getting one out against the one batter he faced.

Sanders pitched three innings of relief for WBE, giving up two runs on five hits and one walk, while striking out one and Barnett got the win for Posts 82 & 89 pitching the final two innings and allowing one run on two hits and three walks, while striking out two.

For Truman, Prafke had two doubles and two singles, while Owen Wolter had two hits and walked twice.

Greier had a sacrifice fly and two hits, Zach Wolter collected two singles and Fischer walked twice and was hit by a pitch. Cook had three doubles and a single, while Wiederhoeft had a walk and a single and Clay Gieseke had a hit. Gravlin collected and hit and a walk, while James Schrunk hit a double.

Owen Wolter started on the mound for Truman, pitching 3 1/3 innings and giving up no runs on one hit and two walks. Fischer pitched the next 1 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on one walk and a hit batter.

Ross Balcom pitched an inning for Truman, giving up one run one three hits and two walks, while Schrunk pitched 2/3 of an inning and gave up four runs on two hits. Greier pitched to four batters, allowing four runs on a home run, two walks and a hit batter. Gravlin pitched 1 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on three walks and two hits, Zach Wolter pitched 1/3 of an inning and allowed two runs on one hit and Wiederhoeft pitched the final 2/3 of an inning and gave up no runs on one walk.

Both teams await other scores from Monday’s action to determine their matchups for the first game of the Section 2 Sub-District Tournament on Thursday.

Winnebago/Blue Earth ends their regular season with a record of 7-1, while Truman finishes regular-season play at 3-5.

WBE 000 001 805 — 14 10 2

TRU 310 302 001 — 10 18 6

Jared Kennedy, Koby Nagel (3), Hunter Bleess (4), Caelan Sanders (5), Brayden Barnett (WP, 8) and Karson Legred. Owen Wolter, Cayden Fischer (4), Ross Balcom (6), James Schrunk (7), Quentin Greier (7), Paxton Gravlin (7), Zach Wolter (LP, 9), Jordan Wiederhoeft (9) and Mitch Prafke.

LOB–WBE 12, Truman 17. 2B–Mitch Prafke 2 (TRU), Ross Balcom (TRU), Jaiden Cook 3 (TRU), James Schrunk (TRU). HR–Hunter Bleess (WBE). SAC–Caelan Sanders (WBE). SF–Owen Wolter (TRU), Quintin Greier (TRU), Anders Fering (WBE).