Saturday was the nicest day so far of 2019 and the Hastings Raiders baseball team took advantage with a doubleheader at Grossman Field against the Henry Sibley Warriors and the South St. Paul Packers. The Raiders dropped the first game to the Warriors 5-1 as their offense struggled and Henry Sibley did all of their damage in the fourth inning. However, Hastings bounced back and exploded with 12 runs in the bottom of the first against South St. Paul and went on to win 14-5. The game against Henry Sibley was supposed to be played at Henry Sibley on Monday, April 15, but was moved to Hastings on Saturday because of the inclement weather the week before.
Struggles against the Warriors
The Raider offense really struggled against Henry Sibley as they managed just three hits against the Warriors. Senior Isaac Flyn started on the mound for Hastings and threw all seven innings. He cruised through the first three innings until the Warriors scored five runs in the top of the fourth, one of them unearned thanks to a Hastings error. Flynn's final line was seven innings pitched and he gave up five runs (four earned) on just five hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts. It was just that one inning that came back to bite the Raiders.
They got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI-groundout by sophomore Danny Peters that scored Flynn. However, that would prove to be the Raiders only run as they left a runner on third and then left the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh.
Peters, junior Alex Otto and senior Hayden Fraley had the three Raider hits. It was a fast-moving game as there weren't many walks and most of the offense was concentrated in the fourth inning.
Bouncing back against the Packers
Hastings refocused, filled their bellies on some grilled hot dogs between games and they came out hot in game two against the South St. Paul Packers. After junior Tom Ritt shut down the Packers in the top of the first, the Raiders launched an offensive that ended with 12 runs on eight hits with four walks and a total of 16 batters. Flynn hit an RBI-double, Fraley and Ritt each brought in a run after drawing a walk, senior Nolan Conzemius brought in two runs with a two-run single, fellow senior Jake Biermaier added another two RBI-single, Flynn notched an RBI-single his second time up, Otto added an RBI-groundout, Peters hit an RBI-double and the last run was scored on an RBI-single by senior Will Lavin.
South St. Paul scored one run in the top of the second and another in the top of the fourth to make it 12-2 Raiders. Hastings needed to hold the Packers scoreless in the top of the fifth to 10-run them but South St. Paul was able to score three thanks to some Raider errors and extended the game. Hastings scored a run each in the bottom of the sixth and seventh on a Packer error and then another RBI-single by Otto. The Raiders held South St. Paul in the top of the seventh to win 14-5.
Not to get lost in the Raiders' offensive explosion was the incredible play of senior Drew Davis at the plate against the Packers. After going 0-for-4 against Henry Sibley, Davis proceeded to go 5-for-5 against the Packers with four singles, a double and three runs scored. Flynn was right behind him with a 4-for-5 performance with two RBI and three runs scored.
Ritt pitched two innings and then was pulled to preserve him for Hastings' busy schedule in the upcoming week. In his two innings he gave up one earned run on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts. He was relieved by sophomore Carter Olson who threw three innings and gave up four runs-two earned-on five hits and two walks with a strikeout to record his first varsity win. Fellow sophomore Simon Hedin came in to pitch the last two innings and struck out five with two walks to close the door on the Packers. Biermaier, Flynn, Otto, Peters, Lavin, Fraley, Ritt and Conzemius all had RBIs for the Raiders. Seven different Raiders had hits and nine out of 15 batters scored in the game.
Head coach Taylor Pagel said that his message to the Raiders after game one was that they were better hitters than what they showed against Henry Sibley. They came out and proved that against South St. Paul, he said, and had better at-bats, put the bat on the ball and ran the bases aggressively. He also said that the emergence of Olson and Hedin as pitchers who can get outs at the varsity level will be big for the Raiders as teams continue to adapt to the new pitch-count rules that were instituted before the spring of 2017. Pagel said that with Hastings on the lower end of enrollment among the big schools, they are most at a disadvantage to the other big schools in how many pitchers they are able to throw and Olson and Hedin will be welcome additions to a rotation of Flynn, Ritt, Lavin and Davis.
The Raiders are now 2-2 overall with wins over South St. Paul and Hill-Murray and losses to Park and Henry Sibley. Hastings hosts Tartan on Monday, April 22, though that game could be in danger due to rain and storms throughout the day. They then go to Simley on Tuesday, are at Mahtomedi on Wednesday and host St. Thomas Academy on Friday, April 26.