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HHS baseball wins three in a row, then loses two

Junior Cody Lewison makes contact in the Raiders' loss to the Royals. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Senior pitcher Matt Nicklay fields the bunt to the right of the mound in Hastings' loss to East Ridge. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
First baseman Logan Radke barely holds on to a popout against East Ridge. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
Sophomore Drew Davis rears back and throws in the seventh inning against Woodbury. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

The Hastings High School baseball team played five games in four days this past week and seemed to be back on track after losing three in a row. The Raiders won three straight conference games last week against North St. Paul (4-3), Simley (8-0) and defending state champions Henry Sibley (13-12). However, they then played a doubleheader against Woodbury and East Ridge at Jack Ruhr Field in Miesville on Saturday and dropped both games. Hastings is now 6-8 overall, 6-4 in the MEC which puts them in second place behind Tartan.

Three in a row

The Raiders fell behind 2-0 to the Polars early in the game, but once again were able to ride solid pitching and late hitting to a 4-3 walk-off victory in the bottom of the seventh. Senior Jake Brake pitched four innings, gave up two runs on one hit, walked three and struck out seven. Senior Matt Nicklay finished the game in relief to get the win, throwing three innings, allowing just one run on two hits with four strikeouts.

Hastings scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game and then the walk-off run in the bottom of the seventh. Brake, Nicklay and senior outfielder Cody Leflay had all three of the Raiders hits, while first-baseman Logan Radke had an RBI.

Against Simley, junior Doug Nordine pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing only three hits while striking out six. Nine Raider batters got a hit in a game where their bats seemed to finally wake up. Brake went 3-for-3 with three singles while junior Michael Quinn had two hits and senior outfielder Clay Harris had two RBIs.

Friday's game against Henry Sibley was a barn burner with 25 total runs scored and only one inning where a run was not scored. Both teams cobbled together a combination of a couple of pitchers each, as both teams were running into trouble with pitch counts and the amount of games played in a short span. Junior Brendan Kruger pitched 3 1/3 innings for the Raiders, giving up seven runs on five hits, walking three to go with two strikeouts. Alex Siebenaler pitched just 2/3 of an inning and gave up four runs on three hits and three walks, and had one strikeout. Junior Corey Wolters was able to stop the bleeding in a masterful relief performance, as he pitched the final three innings and gave up just one run to a potent Warrior lineup that hit four home runs for the game. Wolters walked just two and struck out seven batters out of the nine outs he recorded.

Going into the bottom of the sixth, Hastings was down 13-7 but were able to score five to cut the Warriors lead to 13-12. In the bottom of the seventh, Leflay hit a walk-off RBI single to win the game. Nicklay and sophomore shortstop Drew Davis led the Raiders with three hits each. Four other Raider batters recorded two hits, while Leflay led the team with three RBIs.

Miesville doubleheader

Hastings looked to carry the momentum from their four-game winning streak into their doubleheader against Woodbury and East Ridge on Saturday. The Raiders played an afternoon and evening game against their two neighbors at Jack Ruhr Field, home of the Miesville Mudhens. However, Hastings' hitting troubles returned as they were able to score just five runs in the two games. Combined with uncharacteristically erratic pitching, the Raiders fell 6-1 to Woodbury and 6-4 to section opponent East Ridge.

Brake pitched six innings for the Raiders but struggled with his command, as he walked three batters and hit three more to put six on base. Many of them came back to bite him as the Royals scored four runs in the top of the third after Brake walked two batters and hit two more, on top of giving up two hits to bring them home. Brake pitched six innings, gave up four runs on four hits, three walks and three hit batters. He also had four strikeouts. Davis relieved him in the seventh and gave up two runs on two hits and a walk.

While Hastings had seven hits in the ballgame, they were not able to string them together. Hastings scored one run in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI groundout by Radke. Otherwise, Harris and Brake each had two hits.

The Raiders inconsistent pitching continued against East Ridge, though the hitting was much better. Hastings took a 1-0 lead after the first inning when Harris led off with a single and was brought home by Leflay on an RBI groundout. However, Hastings struggled in the second inning and gave up five runs on a series of errors and four walks by Nicklay. With runners on base, Nicklay threw wildly over to first, which got by Radke, who then overthrew Quinn at third base allowing runs to score. Nicklay then walked four batters in a row, before the Raptors struck paydirt with a bases-clearing double to take a 5-1 lead.

The Raiders scored a run in the third, fifth and seventh innings to chip away at East Ridge's lead, but were unable to put a big inning together to really put the pressure on the Raptors.

Nicklay threw a complete game, six innings, giving up six runs on four hits and six walks, to go along with four strikeouts, two of which came in the first inning.

Junior Cody Lewison led Hastings with three hits, while Leflay had two RBIs and Harris scored three times.

Hastings traveled to South St. Paul on Monday, May 8, hosted Simley on Wednesday and then travels to Tartan on Friday.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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