By Bruce Karnick [email protected] Cramming 14 baseball games in 18 days is not a position that any coach wants to be in, yet, Head Coach Taylor Pagel is in that very situation. The first games …
By Bruce Karnick
Cramming 14 baseball games in 18 days is not a position that any coach wants to be in, yet, Head Coach Taylor Pagel is in that very situation. The first games of the already short high school season were postponed. Add Spring in Minnesota weather challenges, and scheduling has been a nightmare. Luckily for Hastings, there are three quality baseball fields in town, and the best one has a great volunteer grounds crew and lights. The high school has Grossman Field on campus, but its location and lack of lights means games need to start early in the evening. It also means double headers are tough to pull off because early spring games cannot go much past 7:30 without artificial lighting.
Veterans Park is the perfect spot to host high school double headers. Between the Hastings Hawks spearheading the day-today maintenance with awesome support from the city, folks like Steve Pavelka and businesses like Precision landscaping donating the use of a turf roller to flatten the field, the concessions stand with normal bathrooms, the wide-open sidelines, bigger bleachers, press box and lights, games at Vets are a necessity. At any given moment, the Raiders will have three baseball games going. Freshman, B Squad and Varsity.
The schedule last week and this week dictated the need to utilize the city park multiple times in a short time frame and fans showed up in droves. For Friday’s double header, the outfield “student section” had at least 30 kids at one point and there had to have been nearly 200 fans total throughout the night.
“Five o’clock starts are great,” said one anonymous parent. “I can’t make the 4:15 games because of work, here, I can come right from work, get dinner and watch my kid play.”
Monday, May 3, the Raiders travelled to North St. Paul for a double header against the Polars. Game one showcased Simon Hedin on the mound for Hastings. Hedin pitched the complete game shutout with six strikeouts on 106 pitches. Only three North batters made it to base the entire game. Hastings scored first in the fifth inning and added a second in the sixth to finish the first game with a 2-0 win.
Game two looked dramatically different, the Raider bats were ready to be the star of the show. Jerry Schumacher started on the bump for Hastings and the Polars managed to score once off Schumacher in the first. Hastings answered right back with three of their own. In the third Hastings had built up a 5-1 lead. By the middle of the fifth, North closed the gap 6-4 and that is when the Raiders finished off the Polars. A six-run bottom of the fifth secured the victory for Hastings.
Wednesday was the next schedule game for Hastings, a double header at henry Sibley. The problem is, Mother Nature felt they needed a break. The weather forecast called for rain, but Sibley still wanted to try to get the games in. by the time the fifth inning hit, the game was tied 2-2 and officials decided to suspend the game. The games against the Warriors were then moved to Hastings at Veterans park Thursday. Game one resumed from the fifth with Henry Sibley winning 5-3 despite solid pitching from Connor Stoffel and Jackson Schafer.
Game two against the Warriors started out much like the second game at North. Early offense gave the raiders the lead early, and they kept it most of the game. After four innings, Hastings had the lead 4-1, but Sibley tied the game in the top of the fifth, 4-4. The game went back and forth from that point forward with each team trading hits, but no runs, until the bottom of the seventh.
Hedin started the inning with a walk and slowly the bases began to fill up and the Raiders had no outs. Adam Nelson came to the plate and smacked a line drive into the gap scoring Hedin from third and giving the Raiders the win in walk-off fashion. Hedin stomped on home and instantly turned to celebrate with Nelson at first with the rest of the team following. The “student section” in the outfield was so pumped after the hit they jumped the centerfield fence and stormed the field to join their friends.
Friday night, with two full games to play for the double header, word spread on social media for the students to show up and cheer on the boys against South St. Paul. Jerry Schumacher got the start for Hastings who jumped out to the early 2-0 lead. By the middle of the game, behind the bats of Jake Sandquist and Ben Teigland, the Raiders had built a 5-0 lead. Schumacher and the defense did a great job protecting it and the final was 5-0 Hastings. Schumacher earned the complete game shutout striking out nine and only allowing two hits.
Game two featured the Raiders ace, Hedin on the mound, and as nearly perfect as Hedin was, the MVP of the game was Ben Teigland. Teigland hit a single in the second and with some heads-up base running, he made it to second. A few minutes later he was at third when a wild pitch gave him the chance to get the first score of the game. Teigland took off for home and the Packer’s catcher was chasing down the wild pitch. He tossed to his pitcher who was in the right position to make the tag, and the throw was clean and in time. They should have had Teigland at home, but he knew what was coming and he slid perfectly avoiding the tag. Some say he reached over the tag to touch first, but he actually did reach for the plate around and under the tag. The base running by Teigland and the amazing slide gave the Raiders the 1-0 lead.
Hedin shut down the Packers the rest of the game striking out twelve on 88 pitches. Hedin allowed five base runners, walked no one and pitched a gem for Hastings.
With the wins, the Raiders are now in third place in the Metro East Conference at 6-4, 7-4 overall, behind Hill-Murray and Mahtomedi.
After the double header on Monday, May 10 against Simley, things don’t slow down too much for Hastings. They travel to Tartan on Wednesday, then back home against Mahtomedi on Friday. Saturday the 15th they travel to Burnsville, then they travel to St. Thomas Academy on Monday the 17th. At Hill-Murray on the 19th and at Rosemount the 21st. The final home game is Wednesday May 26th against Park. That game was supposed to be the season opener, but it got moved to the end with the COVID protocols from the beginning of the year. As of this printing, the game is scheduled for a 4:15 start at Grossman, but talks have been in play to move it to Vets and make it a senior night under the lights. We will keep you informed in next week’s edition.