HASTINGS – Even while watching a six-run fourth inning for Hastings, Red Wing had to make sure the team wasn't frazzled. There was still five innings to chip away at the Hawks.
“You like to fight. It's something to hang your hat on,” said Red Wing second baseman Adam Thygesen. “Guys keep working and it's fun to play with guys who keep working.
In the seventh inning, Adam got the first strike. Then after a pair of runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth, he delivered the game-tying swing. One batter later, Brady Schroeder delivered the final blow, helping the Aces come back from down 7-3 for an 8-7 Classic Cannon Valley League victory Sunday at Veteran's Park.
“I think we'll take anything we can get when it comes to it,” said Adam a week after the Aces. “It just proves to us to keep working until the end but obviously we got to come out with more fire at the start of games.”
Said Hastings manager Shawn Matson, “That's the thing with all the teams in our league: You can never rest on your laurels and get complacent. We just didn't make the plays when we needed to.”
It took just two batters to get Hastings a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Nick Horsch opened with a single, then reached home on an Eric Harris RBI double.
Red Wing responded in the second with three runs, starting with Dixon Irwin reaching home on a Brodie Smith fielder's choice. Then Josh Thygesen delivered a single off pitcher Spencer Kopp that allowed Spencer Schroeder and Smith to cross home.
Then came the fourth, and the Hawks were finally honed in on Aces starter Sam Palmatier. Hastings scored six runs on five hits, including a two-run single by Wes Hedlund and a double by Harris.
“Sam's a good pitcher, he hits his spots. You can't try to do too much against him,” Matson said. “We had a good approach at the plate all day as far as taking the ball the other way against him. Hitting it hard and putting it in play.”:
After the frame, Palmatier settled down and gave up just two more hits until being relieved after the seventh inning. He struck out three while giving up two walks, 10 hits and seven runs (five earned).
“Our pitching was a little low this weekend so we needed Sam to go the distance,” said Aces manager/designated hitter Jimmy Bohmbach. “After that six-run inning, he was able to shut the door and let it go. That was as big a game from him that we needed. We didn't help him out at all defensively and he just looked past it and kept going.”
The big inning didn't come for the Aces like it did for the Hawks. But no matter: Red Wing's efforts were rewarded.
After Smith and Josh opened the top of the seventh with back-to-back singles, Thygesen got a single past the shortstop for a run. Two batters later, Bohmbach delivered an RBI single to right field to make it 7-5.
Smith reached on a fielder's choice, leaving Josh as the game-tying run with two outs in the eighth. The Red Wing veteran first baseman capitalized on a Hastings error to reach first. Then, little brother delivered as Adam tied the game up with a two-run double.
“It's been a long time coming. This season's been a little difficult,” Adam said of his game-tying hit. “That's just the game of baseball: Things don't always go well. You try to keep your confidence up. I was happy I was able to do something to help out the team.”
Brady hit an opposite-field single to score Adam, completing the comeback.
“It's nice to see the guys didn't panic,” Bohmbach said. “We were taking it one run at a time, and that can lead to a lot of runs.”
Finally able to take the edge from Hastings, Isaac Oeltjen pitched two scoreless innings of relief with four strikeouts and one hit allowed.
“He's about as consistent as you can get throwing strikes,” Bohmbach said of Oeltjen's performance this season. “When he does, it's tough to hit off of him with how tall he is. By the time he releases it, it's halfway home.”
The Aces' top three – Josh, Adam and Brady – accounted for six of the team's 13 knocks with two hits apiece. Smith also delivered, going 2-for-4 with three runs scored.
Four Hawks – Harris, Dominic Theis, Max Bundschu and Hedlund – finished with two hits apiece, with Harris driving in three runs. Kopp got the loss after 7 2/3 innings of work with five strikeouts and 12 hits allowed.