R-P baseball closes out season at state tournament

TCR/CRAIG JOHNSON Trojan Shawn Marg pitched 4.2 innings versus South Ridge last week where he struck out four batters. Marg is one of the seven who recently graduated from Rushford-Peterson.
By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

The Trojan baseball season came to an end in the state tournament last week. R-P opened play  with a 5-1 loss to South Ridge on June 14, at the Chaska Athletic Park. The Trojans then faced Hinckley-Finlayson in a loser-out, consolation bracket game the next day, dropping a heart-breaker 7-6 after leading 6-4 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. R-P finished the season with a 14-10 record.

R-P vs. South Ridge

It wasn’t a pretty game, but it was a testament to the old baseball adage that “good pitching almost always beats good hitting.” 

South Ridge senior pitcher Nick Carlson spun a masterpiece, pitching seven innings of five-hit baseball, giving up just one run, striking out six Trojan batters, and walking only two. The 5-1 win sent the Panthers into the championship semifinal while  the Trojans (14-9) dropped to the consolation bracket.

R-P pitcher Shawn Marg was also effective but didn’t get a lot of defensive help in the loss. Marg pitched the first 4.2 innings, giving up six hits and five runs, but just one of those runs was earned as the Trojans had four fielding errors. Marg struck out four batters and gave up three walks. Nolan Mueller finished the game by pitching 1.1 innings, giving up one hit and no runs while picking up a strikeout and issuing one walk. 

South Ridge scored the first run of the game in the home half of the first inning. The Trojans answered with their first (and only) run in the top of the second. The Panthers got the insurance runs they’d need in the bottom of the third when three baserunners crossed home plate. They added their fifth and final run in the bottom of the fourth inning, finishing with five runs on seven hits, committing three errors. The Trojans had a run on five hits while committing four fielding errors.

In addition to his efforts on the mound, Marg was the Trojans’ leading hitter, going three for three at the plate, all singles. Dawson Dahl and Payton Hahn had the other two hits, both singles. R-P did have chances to score, thanks in part to three South Ridge errors. However, the Trojans couldn’t find the big hit they needed and left eight runners on base. 

“We actually hit the ball hard in this game,” said coach Jordan Aug. “Every time we made good contact, we seemed to hit the ball right at someone. We only scored a single run after coming into the state tournament averaging six runs a game. Between the errors and not generating runs in the game were things we just hadn’t done much of all season.” 

The Panthers only had seven hits, but they did have the game’s only extra-base hits, getting three doubles against Marg and Mueller. 

R-P vs. Hinckley-Finlayson

Fielding errors would ultimately be the undoing from the Trojans, who battled back from a 4-2 deficit to take a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. Hinckley-Finlayson, the home team on the scoreboard, put together a rally of their own, scoring three times in the bottom of the seventh to come away with a walk-off 7-6 win. H-F advanced to the consolation bracket title game while the season ended for R-P at 14-10.

The Jaguars took an early lead with two runs in the bottom of the first inning and would lead by that same score after the first three innings of the game. The Trojans would bounce back to tie the game at two after scoring twice in the top of the fourth. The Jags took their second lead of the game at 4-2 after scoring twice in the bottom of the sixth. The Trojans lineup then scored four times in the top of the seventh to lead the game 6-4. H-F rallied with three runs to win the game in the bottom of the final frame as the winning run crossed the plate with two outs in the inning. 

H-F finished with seven runs on nine hits while committing three errors of their own. The Trojans had six runs and six hits and committed six errors. 

The Trojans finished with an uncharacteristic six errors and were unable to take advantage of a solid pitching performance by the combination of Ben Ansell and Nolan Mueller. The two combined to give up just two earned runs in the game, both by Mueller, who worked the first six innings of the game, allowing eight hits and four total runs, while striking out two batters and not issuing a walk. Ansell worked the last two-thirds of an inning, allowing only one hit and three runs, none of which were earned.

“Nolan (Mueller) probably pitched his best game of the season,” Aug said. “It was unfortunate because we couldn’t get anything going behind him. Our pitching staff stayed on par with what they had been doing all through the regular season and carried it over into the playoffs.” 

 Ansell and Marg combined for four of the team’s six hits as each collected two base hits. Ansell scored twice and drove in a run. Wiedemann went one for four in the game while driving in three of the team’s six runs. Landon Skalet had the only extra-base hit (triple) while driving in a run and scoring once. 

“We did some things that were uncharacteristic for our team this spring,” Aug said. “In both games, we had a handful of errors in each of them. We’d been a team that was usually pretty solid defensively, making plays when they were presented to us. 

Looking ahead

The Trojans will say goodbye to a good group of seniors and have some holes in the roster to fill. Gone to graduation are Ansell, Marg, Dittman, Dahl, Paulson, Hahn, and Schwendinger.

“I really can’t say enough about what this group of seniors has done for our team,” Aug said. “Six of the seven were full-time starters, so they made a big contribution on the field. On top of their athletic ability, they’re great kids and great leaders. We were a good come-from-behind team this spring, which is because the seniors were keeping everyone focused on the game through even the most challenging times.”