The Hastings Raider’s season came to an end after their comeback bid versus the Rosemount Irish fell short 4-6 in the elimination bracket of the Section 3AAAA tournament on June 3.
The matchup got off to a relatively quiet start, though the Irish did get on the scoreboard first in this one when they coupled a walk with an RBI double in the first inning. The Raiders would then threaten with a runner in scoring position in both the second and third innings, but they were unable to capitalize.
The bottom of the third ended up being a nightmare for the Raiders. The Irish strung together a walk with five hits, including a triple, that blew the game open 6-0. At that point, it seemed like all hope was lost for the Raiders, yet they refused to roll over.
Junior Gavin Odman entered the game in relief for senior Connor Stoffel to get the final out of the inning, and then the Raiders went on attack mode.
In the fourth inning, juniors Trevor Anselment and Mitch Iliff both got hit by pitches to give the Raiders something to work with. Junior Eddie Peine then proceeded to jolt the Raiders back to life with a three-run blast to left field, cutting the lead in half 3-6.
Odman was dialed in on the mound from the get go, and he cruised through a quick 1-2-3 fourth inning to help keep the Raiders in striking distance. Senior Jackson Schaffer scored a run in the fifth inning off of an Anselment RBI single to make the score 4-6.
Odman and the Raiders defense continued to post zeros, but they were also held scoreless the rest of the way, leaving the final score 4-6 Irish. It was a disappointing finish for the Raiders, but they refused to give up and left it all on the field.
Overall, it was a successful season filled with triumphant moments for the team. They finished 18-5 on the year and 15-3 in the Metro East. The Raiders exercised some past demons by sweeping St. Thomas Academy, a team they have historically struggled with. They also took down Park of Cottage Grove, the No. 1 seed in the Section 3AAAA tournament, 7-1 in their first game of the season.
There are also plenty of reasons for optimism going forward. While the Raiders will be losing impactful players in Connor Stoffel and Metro East All-Star Jackson Schaffer, they will be returning eight starters. Also, the Raiders will be tapping into a talented pool of incoming upperclassmen.
Sophomores Alex Hendrickson and Jack Seleski were already regulars in the varsity lineup this year, and they will be joined next year by a slew of up and comers. Mark Denoyer and Sawyer Tjomsland each hit over .500 for the B-Squad and spent time on the varsity team. Three other players from the B-Squad also cleared batting averages of .400, which should culminate in a dangerous lineup for the Raiders varsity team next year.
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