SPRINGFIELD - Prior to his at-bat in the seventh inning, Springfield's Sam Baier was having a tough time, going hitless in three at-bats. But the game of baseball can be very forgiving as Baier soon found out.
With the score tied at 3-3, Baier drilled a Mike Skillings offering in the gap in left-center, scoring two Tiger runs. The Tigers tacked on one more for good measure and held on to defeat New Ulm Cathedral 6-3 in a battle of two state-ranked Class A teams.
"I just got relaxed, I was a little frustrated up there," Baier said. "They were ranked ahead of us at three [No. 3] right now and we went in there thinking 'we want that.'"
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Springfield’s Nick Runck slides safely into second around the tag of New Ulm Cathedral’s Collin Helget during the first game of a doubleheader Thursday in Sprinfield.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
The game was originally supposed to be played in New Ulm, but wet fields moved the doubleheader to Springfield and the Tigers were the away team in the first game.
The fifth-ranked Tigers were unable to come away with the sweep in the 12-4 loss.
The first game lived up to the hype. The game moved fast and as both teams got good pitching and good defense.
Springfield coach Bob Fink was impressed with how his team came back in the top of the seventh off of Skillings, who pitched two innings and gave up four runs on two hits in the loss.
"That's what I like about this team," Fink said.?"Whether we're down or up, we play with enthusiasm. We're still aggressive and that's what makes it fun to coach."
Dylan Wersal earned the win for Springfield. He went six innings and allowed three runs and four hits. He struck out three.
Gabe Knowles pitched the first five innings, allowed two runs and four hits. He struck out four.
The Greyhounds struck first in the bottom of the first, with Knowles scoring on Collin Helget's hit.
Springfield scored two runs in the top of the fourth. Tim Krueger's RBI double scored Carter Erickson and Alex Portner singled to score Krueger to make it 2-1.
The Greyhounds tied the game in the fifth inning and took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the sixth when Skillings hit an RBI double that scored Helget.
The Tigers waited until the seventh to take the lead and eventually held on for the win.
Portner and Nick Runck led off the inning with back-to-back walks. Cooper Scheffler's double tied the game at 3-3 and Baier provided the game-winning RBIs with his double. Freshman Jevon Richert drove in Baier for the game's final run.
Scheffler was 2-for-4 with a run scored and a double in the first game for the Tigers. Springfield finished with six hits in the game. Four different players finished with a hit for Cathedral.
The Greyhounds took the nightcap with a 12-4 win. Helget earned the win for the Greyhounds. He pitched five innings and allowed four runs. He walked nine and struck out one.
Erickson took the loss, allowing six runs (two earned) in 2 1/3 innings.
Both teams scored two runs in the first inning, but Cathedral scored two runs in each of the second and third innings and another in the fourth to go ahead 7-3. The Greyhounds added five more runs in the seventh for the win.
Knowles, Russell Hoffman and Nathan Palmer were 2-for-5 for the Greyhounds with Knowles and Skillings driving in two runs each. Brandon Beranek drove in four runs.
Scheffler went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the second game and Baier scored two runs.
Overall, it was a great atmosphere for both teams.
"It's cold out here but a lot of people come to watch two great high school teams," Fink said. "It just makes it fun. When we play Cathedral, I believe they think the same about us - we know it's going to be a very competitive game."
The Tigers (10-1) are at Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart on Monday.
Cathedral (5-1) hosts Sleepy Eye St. Mary's at 5 p.m. Friday.