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Hastings Hawks advance in Section 1B playoffs

By Wayne Erickson

Special to the Star Gazette

The Hastings Hawks have advanced to the Section 1B playoffs by taking two games from the Northfield Knights in the 4/5 play-in series. The Hawks finished tied for third place in the Classic Cannon Valley League with the Red Wing Aces but the tie-breaker criteria put the local nine into the play-in series.

Hastings opened the series at home on Friday, July 31 and defeated the Knights by the score of 9-5. The Hawks banged out 12 hits and took advantage of four Northfield errors en route to the victory. Sam Ryan led the offense going 3-for-4 from the plate with three RBI's and two stolen bases. Jordy Horsch, Andy Salmela and Pat Wadzinski each went 2-for-4 with Horsch just missing an inside-the-park home run. Pat Kelly, Jared Powell and David Vogelgesang each collected hits for the Hawks as well.

Nate Rost started on the bump and threw seven solid innings. He allowed two runs on six hits, walked one and struck out four during his outing. Vogelgesang threw the final two innings allowing three runs on the same amount of hits. He walked two and struck out two, closing the door on the Knights.

With one win under the belt, the Hawks traveled to Northfield on Sunday, Aug. 2, to try to shut the door on the Knights' season. The Knights would not go down easy as they held a 7-3 lead going into the top of the ninth. The resilient Hawks scored four runs to tie the game and shut Northfield down. In the top of the 10th, the Hawks tallied a single run and closed the door on the Knights, who had bases loaded with one out, but hit into a game-ending double play putting another notch in the win column for Hastings and the right to advance in the playoffs.

Adam Barta started on the mound for the Hawks and ran into trouble in the fifth as the Knights jumped out to a 6-2 lead. Barta pitched four complete innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on seven hits and two walks. He struck out four Knight batters in the process.

Derrick Pfeffer entered and threw six strong innings, giving up one run on four hits and three walks while striking out four.

Offensively, the Hawks matched their hitting output of Friday with 12 hits. Wadzinski had another great day going 3-for-4 with two RBI's. Powell also knocked out three hits in his six plate appearances. Ryan walked three times and scored three runs for the Hawks. Perhaps the biggest hit of the day came off Kelly's bat in the ninth, when he launched a huge two-run double, propelling the Hawks to their eventual 8-7 victory.

Hastings will travel to Dundas on Friday, Aug. 7 to take on the number the one-seeded Dukes at 8 p.m. During the regular season they split with the Dukes, winning 8-7 at home and losing 3-1 on the road.

The same two teams will meet at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, again in Dundas, in the best three out of five series.

The Hawks will then host the Dukes at Veterans Athletic Complex at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 11.

If a game four is necessary, it will be on at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14 in Hastings. Game five, if necessary, will be played Saturday, Aug. 15 in Dundas.

The winner of the series will advance to the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Tournament, along with the winner of the Miesville/Red Wing series, to represent Section 1B.