By Bruce Karnick
The Hastings Hawks had hoped to not be part of the preliminary tournament by defeating Cannon Falls in the last game of the regular season. When that win did not come to fruition, the boys were awarded the number two seed in the Region 5C tournament that took place last weekend. The Hawks won the tourney, and are now ready for the next challenge: the Region 5C Championship bracket. Two more straight wins and the Hawks will be headed to the Class C state tournament that will be held in two of three parks they are already very familiar with, Miesville, Dundas and Faribault. The Class C state tournament has 64 teams in it playing games over a couple weeks, a huge boost for the towns that can host and something that the City of Hastings needs to work towards in the near future. But that is a story for another time.
The preliminary tournament started on Wednesday, July 27 when the Winona Chiefs came to town. The Chiefs came to Veterans Park with a limited roster, their iron 10, and Hastings was able to take advantage of the lack of depth. Max Bundschu started on the bump for Hastings and he was nearly perfect for his seven innings, striking out six, allowing two hits and walking one on 89 pitches earning the complete game, 10run mercy rule win.
Offensively, Winona was the team Hastings needed to play to wake up their bats. The Hawks put 15 hits up on the board and forced the Chiefs to commit three errors while stranding nine base runners.
“Offensively, things were going really well for us,” said manager Shawn Matson. “The guys were making great contact, seeing and hitting the ball well and when you put the ball in play, good things happen.”
Those good things were at least one run in six of the seven innings, the only inning the Hawks did not score in was the third inning, but by then, they were up 50.
At the plate, rookie Jackson Schaffer led the way going 3for4 with three singles and a .750 average. Nick Horsch had a slightly lower average at .667, going 2for-3, but Horsch drove in three runs with both of his hits being hard doubles. Cory Wolters joined Horsch at .667 average with a single and a double for the game and one RBI. Six Hawks players contributed to the RBI column and every one of the starters had at least one hit.
Hastings took down Winona 100 in seven innings.
The tournament officially moved to a neutral site with the consolation bracket being played in Cannon Falls and the winner’s bracket being played in Red Wing. Hastings faced Pine Island in round two on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. Jordan Jeske got the start on the mound for Hastings.
Hastings took the 10 lead in the bottom of the first when Jordy Horsch scored on a Cole Benson single but could not muster any additional runs despite loading the bases. The score held on until the top of the fourth when Pine Island scored a two out run to tie it 11.
The pitchers duel continued until the bottom of the sixth when Jackson Tessman crushed a triple to right field scoring one and Blake Warner hit a single to score Tessman giving the Hawks the 31 lead. The Pioneers wasted no time tying the game back up at three in the top of the seventh. Tommy Ritt came on to pitch for the Hawks. Ritt logged the first two outs of the inning before allowing two singles that each drove in a run and tied the game.
The Hawks scored two more in the bottom of the seventh when Isaac Flynn hit a one out single and Benson drove him in with a double. Benson advanced on a wild pitch and then Tessman hit a sacrifice fly to score Benson making it 53.
Ritt ran into trouble to start the eighth, but a 463 double play and a quick strikeout changed that quickly. In the bottom of the eighth, Jordy Horsch hit a twoout single, and advanced to third on wild pitches. Schaffer walked, and with runners on first and third, the two combined to pull off the delayed steal, scoring Horsch for the insurance run. Ritt retired the side 123 and earned the 63 win.
On the mound, Jeske and Ritt combined for six strikeouts, 11 hits and three runs. Tessman earned the player of the game by going 2for3 with a triple, a run scored and two RBI. Benson went 2for-3 with a double, one run scored and two RBI.
The win over Pine Island secured the Hawks advancement to the Region 5C Championship Tournament with one more game left for the week, a Sunday afternoon tilt against the Lake City Serpents.
Hastings had already defeated Lake City twice this season, 97 on June 8 and 95 on June 24.
Ben Bundchu got the start for Hastings and in the second inning, allowed four runs but settled in nicely to keep the Serpents at bay through the sixth when Dennis Reinhart relieved him. Reinhart pitched three scoreless innings to allow the Hawks to chip away at the Serpents 40 lead.
The first Hawk run came in the sixth. Flynn was walked then Benson hit a double, scoring Flynn. Wolters hit a single scoring Benson and the Hawks trailed by two. Rookie Jackson Tessman hit into a fielder’s choice, then advanced to second on wild pitch and third on a balk. Lake City made a pitching change and a wild pitch scored Tessman to close the gap to one.
In the seventh, Schaffer doubled to lead off the inning and Flynn followed that up with a double of his own scoring Schaffer and tying the game. The eighth inning went 123 for both teams.
The Hawks entered the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at four. Jordy Horsch hit a lead off double and the Serpents intentionally walked Schaffer. Flynn flied out too shallow to advance any runners and there is one out. Benson crushed a single down the third base line scoring Jordy Horsch for the walk off win.
Up next for Hastings is Wanamingo, Saturday, August 6, 7 p.m. at Cannon Falls’ John Burch Park. You can also listen to the Hawks play by play via the PodBean app, more details of that and the team can be found at www.hastingshawks.com