HASTINGS – Trey Eckstrom took a hard come-backer off his right shin during the fourth inning of his start for Red Wing Monday against Hastings at Veteran’s Athletic Complex.
He limped and hopped toward first base as a run scored and the batter reached first base. The next hitter would knock in a second run but Eckstrom refocused and locked in as Post 54 defeated Hastings 7-2.
“He’s tough out on the mound,” Red Wing manager Justin Plein said. “He got hit early on there but battled through. I went out and talked to him, asked him if he’s all right. Right away, ‘I’m fine, why are you here? You can go back now, we’ll be fine.’”
Eckstrom pitched a complete game and struck out 11. He allowed one earned run on five hits and one walk despite featuring little other than a fastball.
“Mostly outside away,” Eckstrom said of his fastball. “My curveball wasn’t too good but I just relied on my fastball. The two-seamer worked out pretty well.”
Eckstrom also went 1-for-2 with two runs scored. Preston Blaney was 1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI, Ricky Turcotte went 2-for-4 with two RBI and Michael Bigelbach finished 2-for-4 with a double and a triple for Post 54 (7-4).
Hastings was led by Austin LaDoux, who went 3-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run scored. Cody Marek was 1-for-3 with a triple and an RBI.
Eckstrom helped get Red Wing’s offense going in the third inning as he was hit by a pitch with one out. Then, a double by Bigelbach put runners on second and third before Thate Peterson brought in both with a two-out single. Turcotte added another run with a double to score Peterson for a 3-0 lead.
“We took advantage a few times here,” Plein said. “Once one guy gets a big hit for us, other guys pick up on that and feed off that.”
Zach Benning reached on a three-base error to start the fourth inning for Hastings and in the next at-bat LaDoux hit Eckstrom with a one-hop drive to score Benning. Obviously shaken by getting hit, Eckstrom gave up a triple to Marek and walked Isaiah Gardell but he regrouped to strike out the next two batters looking. After the second strikeout, Gardell walked toward the dugout, thinking the strikeout was the third out of the inning, and was tagged out trying to get back to first base to end the threat.
“I just had to go out there and focus up and know that I can’t let that affect me,” Eckstrom said of getting hit. “I just kept doing what I do, hitting my spots.”
Post 54 padded its lead in the sixth inning as Gunnar Tubbs walked and came around to score on a double by Nic Plein.
In the seventh inning, Eckstrom led off with a walk and Bigelbach launched a triple into the gap for a 5-2 lead.
“He does a great job with this group; he’s a quiet leader,” Justin Plein said of Bigelbach. “He’s definitely focused, he’s learning from every at-bat. … He picks up on the little things.”
Blaney followed with another triple over the centerfielder’s head for a four-run lead and Turcotte brought in Blaney on a fielder’s choice for the final run.
Eckstrom finished the complete game by striking out the side in the bottom of the seventh despite the second hitter reaching first base on an error at second base.
“We had a few plays behind him that we could have made for him,” Plein said. “Defensively, we can clean up a few things.”
After struggling through a 1-3 record last week, Justin Plein said it was encouraging to see the offense break out on Monday.
“We haven’t been hitting the ball very well the last week, we were struggling a little bit so it was nice to come through and get a few clutch hits,” he said. “We need to keep going.”
Post 54 will face Lakeville North Tuesday in Lakeville.