Baseball wins the week


The Metro East Conference is chock-full of quality teams this year. St. Thomas Academy, Two Rivers, and Mahtomedi sit atop the conference tied for first, each posting six conference wins. Hastings is in sole possession of second place with five wins, and Hill Murray is third with four wins. The issue at hand for Hastings is they are now 5-2 in the conference, which normally is not a big deal, but their two conference losses were against Two Rivers and St. Thomas, both of whom are 6-1 after last week's play.
Of their first 10 games, nine were conference games, but since their first conference loss against Two Rivers on Apr. 12, the Raiders defeated conference foes Simley and South St. Paul, and they carried a two-game win streak into their game against Mahtomedi.
The Apr. 22 game at Mahtomedi was an odd one. There was not a lot of offense from Hastings, but the offense they did have was game-changing. The game stayed tied 0-0 until the top of the fourth when Evan Nelson drove the second pitch over the fence in left-center for a solo home run and the Raiders' first lead of the game.
The Zephyrs tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning, and neither team scored in the seventh inning, forcing extra innings. Hastings was back to the top of the order in the top of the ninth, and lead-off hitter Sawyer Tjomsland hit a single up the middle. Alex Hendrickson hit a sacrifice bunt advancing Tjomsland to second. Nelson was walked to put runners at first and second with Jack Seleski coming to the plate in the four-hole.
Seleski took a first-pitch strike and a second-pitch ball, and with the 1-1 count, he smashed the third pitch he saw over the left-field fence for a three-run homer to give the Raiders a 4-1 lead. Cade Kimmes walked to give the Raiders another base runner with only one out. Kimmes advanced on a wild pitch to Blake Vandehoef and then advanced to third on another sacrifice bunt, this time by Vandehoef. That was as far as Kimmes made it; the Zephyrs earned the third out of the inning to have one last chance to take down Hastings. They did threaten to come back, but Hendrickson shut them down, giving the Raiders the 4-2 win.
Hastings used four different pitchers in the win. Offensively, Hastings only had three hits in nine innings, but they were huge hits: a solo home run from Nelson, a key lead-off hit from Tjomsland, and the game-winning three-run blast from Seleski.
On Wednesday, the Cadets came to town hoping to end the Raiders' three-game win streak. Through the first three innings, it looked as though Hastings was poised to sneak out a win. Hendrickson was pitching well, and the Raider defense was solid. Alternatively, the normally stout Cadets had committed an error in the first, plus hit a batter, and Hastings had the bases loaded with no outs. Unfortunately, Hastings could not capitalize on the first-inning opportunities, and the game remained tied at zero into the top of the fourth. St. Thomas put together two key hard-hit doubles to score their first run and a solid single hit up the middle to score their second run, putting Hastings suddenly behind 2-0. Johnny Teigland kicked off the bottom of the fourth with a single, but three straight strikeouts by St. Thomas quickly quelled that Raider threat.

Hastings finally scored, but it was too little, too late. Tjomsland led off the bottom of the fifth with a slow roller to third, and the third baseman misplayed it, allowing Tjomsland to reach on an error. He then stole second before Hendrickson walked to give the Raiders two baserunners. They both advanced one base on Nelson’s ground-out, and Tjomsland scored on a wild pitch to bring the score to 6-1. The Cadets successfully ended the Raiders' winning streak at three and pushed Hastings to second place in the Metro East Conference.

With the defeat against the Cadets, Hastings knew they missed a key chance to establish their strength in the conference, and they took their frustrations out on Tartan the next day. The Raiders jumped out to a three-run lead in the first inning and never looked back. Tjomsland once again showed why he has the lead-off spot in the lineup, logging two singles and scoring twice in his four at-bats. He also added two stolen bases to his stat line.

With Tjomsland at first and one out, Nelson walked, but not before Tjomsland added another stolen base to his resume. With two outs, Mark Denoyer was walked to load the bases. A wild pitch to Teigland scored Tjomsland and advanced the remaining two into scoring position. After a long, quality at-bat, Teigland drove the ball up the middle for a single, scoring both Nelson and Denoyer to give the Raiders a 3-0 lead.

Tartan scored their only run of the game in the third, and then Hastings tacked on two additional runs in the fifth frame. Again, Tjomsland started things for Hastings with a single, then stole another base and was advanced to third on a sacrifice fly by Hendrickson. Nelson logged another RBI for the season with a single to left, scoring Tjomsland. Nelson advanced to third on a double to the left-center warning track by Seleski. Nelson scored on a wild pitch to put the Raiders up for the 5-1 final.

Carter Lundstrom earned the win on the mound.

Hastings has a busy few weeks ahead. On May 1, they take on North St. Paul at home, and then on May 3, they host Two Rivers. Both of those games are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. starts. On May 4, the Raiders look to reignite their rivalry with the Prescott Cardinals in an actual game for the first time in over 20 years. That game will be held in Prescott at 2:00 p.m. On May 6, the boys of summer return to Metro East Conference play at South St. Paul, again at 4:30 p.m.