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HHS baseball goes 2-2 over the last two weeks

The Hastings' baseball team went 2-3 over the last two weeks after a rough 0-2 start to their season. The Raiders picked up conference wins over North and South St. Paul but also lost to Henry Sibley and Mahtomedi. Hastings is 2-5 overall and sitting toward the bottom of the Metro East Conference with two-thirds of its schedule remaining.

The Raiders beat North St. Paul 7-4 on the road April 12 behind some solid pitching from senior Matt Nicklay and junior Doug Nordine. Nicklay pitched 5 2/3 innings, gave up four earned runs on five hits, with two walks and five strikeouts. Nordine pitched the last inning and a third to get the save where he walked one and stuck out two. Senior Logan Radke led Hastings with two hits while several Raiders accounted for the team's runs.

"We had more clutch hitting, bringing runners around," said head coach Taylor Pagel. "We're still working on that, I think we had a total of 13 runners in scoring position and scored seven of them. The pitching that we saw wasn't as good, and we took advantage of that. It was kind of a rainy, sloppy day and we played pretty clean baseball, no errors on the day which was good to see. For Matt (Nicklay) to be able to throw strikes and for Doug (Nordine) to come in a big situation with the bases loaded, to be able to shut them down and get out of there was pretty big."

Hastings traveled to Henry Sibley the next day where they lost in a low-scoring game 2-1.

"We were just flat that day, we didn't come ready to play ball and we just didn't play our game very well," Pagel said. "We didn't have many hits, it was just the top of our order hitting. A lot of times, to score runs you need the whole entire order to hit. We need that bottom half to produce for us. We didn't get that, that game. We had opportunities, but we were a little too aggressive. The pitcher threw strikes and kept the ball on the outer half of the plate. We were out in front a little bit, it's hard to adjust going from a hard thrower to a slower thrower and we didn't make that adjustment very well."

Pagel said Jake Brake pitched unbelievable, with the Warriors hits coming off bloop singles.

The Raiders bounced back against South St. Paul and senior pitcher Ryan Duffy, who signed this past fall to play baseball at the University of Minnesota, to win 4-3.

"We got to him (Duffy) late, when he got to his pitch count, and they had to pull him out," Pagel explained. "But they pulled him out with the bases loaded, and (junior) Cody Lewison came up with a huge double to score two runners to tie the ballgame. It was a monster hit in a huge spot."

Pagel said Niclay threw well for the Raiders and was relieved by sophomore Drew Davis, who held off the Packers until Hastings was able to win the game in the bottom of of the ninth inning.

Lewison led the Raiders with two hits and two RBIs. Senior Cole Benson and junior Michael Quinn both had RBIs for Hastings, while the Raiders hits were spread amongst Benson, Lewison, Clay Harris, Davis, Cody Leflay, Brake and Radke.

Pagel explained that his team needs to start faster and with more energy so as not to fall behind early.

"We need more energy in our dugout, we seem to come out flat a lot," he said. "We are scoring runs late in the game, which is good as it means they're sticking to it and not giving up, but it sure would be nice for our pitches and just for ourselves to be able to jump ahead, be in the lead right away and be in charge of the game."

Hastings' offensive struggles continued though as they lost to Tartan 5-2 last Friday and then were shutout 1-0 by Mahtomedi on Monday. They played Wednesday at home against St. Thomas Academy, travel to Simley on Thursday and then host Hill-Murray 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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