MINNEOTA - Even with some first-game jitters against Minneota/Lincoln HI, Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove catcher Daniel Maras had to be on his toes late in the game.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning and with the Falcons leading 5-1, RRC/WWG pitcher Bryan Bierl's pitch hit the dirt.
Then, confusion ensued.
Photo by Joe Brown
Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s Daniel Maras (16) slides past Minneota/Lincoln HI’s Luke Bretschneider for a stolen base in the first inning Monday in Minneota.
The Vikings' Josh Bednarek swung on a breaking ball for the first out. Finding an opportunity on the base paths, Minneota/LHI's Isaac Josephson raced towards home, trying to make it a 5-2 game. But Maras had the wherewithal to dive back towards the plate and complete the double play.
"I thought I'd throw it to first, but they said he was out. Then I heard everyone shout, 'Home,'" Maras said. "I just saw the guy, got back and got him.
"Everyone was relieved. It was a close game and they were coming back and getting hits with the bases loaded."
|RRC/WWG||102 200 0—5 8 1|
|M/LHI||100 000 2—3 5 3|
|RRC/WWG-Colby Davis, Bryan Bierl (5); M/LHI-Adam Josephson, Cal Swedzinski (5). WP-Davis. LP-Josephson. 2B: M/LHI-Joey Bednarek, Luis Macias. LOB: RRC/WWG-8; M/LHI-6.|
The Vikings got two runs in the inning, but RRC/WWG got the final out to stop the Vikings' rally to finish with a 5-3 non-conference road victory Monday in Minneota.
"We played defense pretty well with one error in the first inning," said Falcons head coach Derrick Jenniges. "If we can pitch and play defense, I think this can be a competitive team on a regular basis."
It was a heartbreaker for the Vikings as they nearly clawed their way back from the four-run deficit.
"I'm not going to fault the kid for the hustle play," Minneota/LHI head coach Keven Larson said of the play at the plate.
Thanks to a leadoff bunt by Maras, the Falcons were able to apply the pressure early, taking a 1-0 lead after one inning. With two runners on and one out, Dylan Bunting drove Maras home on a liner to right-center off Vikings' starting pitcher Adam Josephson.
"From the get-go, we feel like we can hit the baseball," Jenniges said. "We feel like we can run the bases and score some runs."
But Minneota/LHI responded with a run of its own, thanks to Bednarek, who led the inning off with a double. Getting to third on a passed ball, Bednarek scored on a single by Lee Bot.
On the mound for his first varsity start, Falcons sophomore Colby Davis was able to settle down after a shaky first, holding the Vikings to three hits in four innings for the win.
"I think that win will go a long way for his confidence and the confidence of the guys around him," Jenniges said.
Behind the plate, Maras, a senior, tried to just help the young hurler stay calm.
"You got to keep him relaxed, joke around with him a little bit," said Maras, who was 2-for-3 at the plate. "It was the first game, and everyone has the first-game jitters. He wasn't the only one nervous up there. Everyone was."
In the top of the third, Jacob Comnick and Bunting crossed the plate for the 3-1 lead. With two outs in the fourth, Comnick drilled an RBI single, and with Maras on third and Comnick on first and looking to move over, Maras had enough room to dash for home, putting the score at 5-1.
"We gave up two or three early runs when it should have been a third out," Larson said, "but that's how the high school game works."
Minneota/LHI tried to manufacture its own runs, but RRC/WWG picked off three steal attempts to hinder any rallies by the Vikings.
Now 1-0 on the season, the Falcons head home to Lamberton today, taking on Springfield in a non-conference game. Next Monday, the Vikings (0-1) travel to the Metrodome in Minneapolis to take on Lakeview in a non-conference tilt.