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Baseball team squeezing out the wins

The Hastings High School baseball team is securing the close wins it could not a year ago, a development coach Mike Louden finds to his liking.

"We've been very fortunate," Louden said, "but kids are playing hard. We've gotten some key hits when we needed them. There's a fine line between winning and losing in high school baseball."

Louden cited the case of Roseville, whom the Raiders beat in extra innings on Monday, May 3, after squeaking past Stillwater five days earlier.

"They have a pretty decent team," Louden said, "but they've lost every close game.

"There's not much separation in high school baseball. It's a matter of what team gets a key hit."

Hastings 9, W.B. Lake 8

Plentiful hits, at the precise moment they were needed, saved Hastings as they rallied from a late, 8-3 deficit to beat Stillwater 9-8 on April 29.

Tom Esser, who picked up his second win of the year after pitching the final two innings for Hastings, knocked in the first of six runs over two innings with an RBI in the bottom of the sixth. After an error scored another Hastings batter, Jake Ries' sacrifice fly pulled the Raiders to within two runs.

Esser held Stillwater from scoring in the top half of the seventh, only the second time the Ponies had been blanked in an at-bat during the game. Joe Welch started the Raiders off with a bang in the seventh with a lead-off, solo home run. Andrew Werner walked, and Jake Foster singled before Eric Otto doubled to tie the game. After the Raiders picked up two outs, Esser singled in Foster to give Hastings the one-run win.

Stillwater took a 2-0 lead early on before Hastings scored three times in the third. Stillwater responded with six runs in the following four innings against starter Zach Samuelson, while shutting down the Raiders at the plate.

Hastings 5, Roseville 3

An RBI triple by Samuelson and the squeeze bunt that sent him home gave Hastings a 5-3, eight-inning win over Roseville on May 3. Otto, who scored the first run of the eighth, led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a bunt by Joe Welch.

Louden said Werner deserved much of the credit for the win. Hastings' top pitcher threw a complete game, striking out nine while walking only one. He held Roseville scoreless for six innings after giving up a run in the first and two in the second.

Werner was kept in, Louden said, because he was keeping his pitch count down.

"He finished at about 100," Louden said. "That's really low for eight innings."

The Raiders are now 7-2 overall and sit atop the Suburban East Conference standing with a record of 6-1.