Hornets sweep Panthers
HARVEY – It was a defensive dual through the first six-and-one-half innings of Region 5 baseball at L.C. Loerch Field on Monday.
The visiting Rugby Panthers and host Harvey-Wells County couldn’t crack the scoreboard through the first six innings, but the Hornets escaped with a 1-0 win on a walkoff fielder’s choice by senior Wyatt Toso.
“Both teams got off to a slow start, but when the kids get focused on what they can do they can do it,” H-WC coach Chuck Nyhus said.
The home team was fortunate late. Rugby put its first player in scoring position in the top of the seventh inning when junior Eric Hooker reached second following a single up the left-field line by sophomore Hunter Hager. The momentum was short-lived as RHS grounded out at its next at-bat for the final out.
Rugby sophomore pitcher Evan Burckhard (Towner) had scattered five hits through the first six innings and stranded four Hornets in scoring position. It was the first complete seven-inning game of the season for Burckhard.
“My arm felt good and it didn’t hurt at all,” he said. “I just wasn’t used to throwing yet. It’s been a long winter.”
Burckhard was backed by good defense until the final frame. Junior shortstop Eli Luna turned a double play in the fourth inning and Burckhard got a pop-up to left field in the fifth to leave three Hornets on base.
In the seventh, H-WC senior Evan Nitz reached on an error as the ball got through second baseman Hooker’s legs. An infield single followed and a batter was walked to load the bases. Toso smacked one to Luna, who threw home to preserve the game, but RHS junior catch Bennie Mygland failed to step on the plate as he looked for a second quick out.
“When we’re in that spot we have to make plays,” RHS coach Kendall Schieve said, “but if we get some runs earlier that’s not a do-or-die situation.”
Schieve was pleased with Burckhard’s strongest outing yet and said the key was the young hurler’s third pitch, the splitter, kept H-WC off balance.
HW-C won the second game 3-2. The Hornets improved to 6-3 overall and 4-1 in Region 5. The Panthers dropped to 3-8 and 2-4.
RHS swept North Star in a series May 1 in Rolette.
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