Nienhaus strikes out career high as Indians top Chargers

Staff photo by Ari Selvey Sleepy Eye’s Winsten Nienhaus delivers a pitch during his 12-strikeout performance against Minnesota Valley Lutheran Monday at Johnson Park.

NEW ULM — In his first start of the season, Sleepy Eye’s Winsten Nienhaus threw a career-best 12 strikeouts in a 7-0 shutout of Minnesota Valley Lutheran Monday in a Tomahawk Conference baseball game at Johnson Park.

“Normally I close and only get a couple innings,” Nienhaus said. “My catcher was giving me a great series. He was giving me the perfect pitches and I didn’t have to shake him off a lot. It was feeling good, warm day, sun’s out and just a great day to play baseball.”

Nienhaus also complimented his defense, which made only one error on the day.

The game broke MVL’s four-game win streak to open the season, dropping them to 4-1.

Nienhaus allowed four hits and walked one in a complete-game win. He was equally effective and clutch at the plate, going 2 for 3 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored, all coming with two outs for the Indians. Austin Uecker had a triple, an RBI and a run scored, while Cody Schultz had a two-RBI double. Caden Evers added a hit and an RBI.

Zach Riederer took the loss for MVL, striking out four while allowing six hits and seven unearned runs in four innings. Connor Bode pitched three innings, striking out one and allowing one hit and no runs. Riederer also had a double at the plate, with Bode adding a single, with Kaden Peterson and Josh Vanderplas also collecting hits.

Sleepy Eye scored five in the second inning and two in the third, with all of their scores coming after two outs.

“All seven runs with two outs,” MVL head coach Jim Buboltz said. “All seven runs after two errors. We’ve got to get that third out and get out of both innings. Thought our pitchers did well enough, but when you have more errors than you have hits at the beginning — I thought Winsten did a great job. He had good control and kept them in it, let his defense play. It was good for us.”

After Landon Wendinger reached on an error to open the second inning, he was moved over to second by a bunt by Marcus Martinez. Carson Uecker singled to bring Wendinger to third, then a wild pitch allowed Wendinger to score and Carson Uecker to take second.

Nienhaus hit the wall with an RBI double that got Carson Uecker home. Austin Uecker and Isaac Lendt drew walks to load the bases, then Schultz brought Carson Uecker and Austin Uecker home with a double. Lendt got home on a single by Evers before Riederer got a strikeout to end the inning.

In the third, it was Martinez that was able to reach on an error to open, with Kaden Klein bunting him to second. Nienhaus again got a double that brought Martinez home, then a triple by Austin Uecker allowed Nienhaus to score once more before Riederer got another strikeout to end the inning.

“I think we ended up putting the ball in play,” Sleepy Eye head coach Aaron Nesvold said. “And that’s what we told the kids. Against Zach Riederer, he’s going to be around the zone, he’s a good pitcher, so if we can put the ball in play, make their defense make plays, and be agressive on the base paths — I think both innings we were doing that.”

Riederer threatened to score in the fourth after doubling and reaching third after a single by Vanderplas, but Nienhaus coaxed a pop out to end the threat. Jensen Gerdts and Bode both reached second in the later innings for MVL, but were unable to advance after that.

Nesvold said that the excellent pitching on the mound during the game was exemplary of the team’s play up to that point of the season as the Indians improved to a 4-1 record.

“I knew coming into the season that pitching would be our strong suit, and so far that’s been living up to what we expect,” he said. “Defense is the one thing we have to work on, but when we don’t make errors, good things happen. Pretty error-free game except for one throwing mistake. Good behind good pitching, good things will happen.”

Sleepy Eye will host Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart in a doubleheader on Thursday. MVL, meanwhile, will host a doubleheader against Springfield at Mueller Park on Thursday.


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