By Bruce Karnick [email protected] The Raiders were scheduled to face Park as the first game of the season, but COVID precautions forced the game to be moved to the last game of the year. That …
By Bruce Karnick
The Raiders were scheduled to face Park as the first game of the season, but COVID precautions forced the game to be moved to the last game of the year. That move allowed Hastings to play a 7:00 game, under the lights at Veterans Park, which also made the game senior night.
“When we play 4:15 games, it’s tough for parents cause they’re working to get to games, it’s tough for the fans, the kids, to get to games, it’s tough for grandparents to get to games. We just don’t come up with the huge crowds because of those 4:15 starts,” Head Coach Taylor Pagel explained on local radio. “So, whenever we can play at Vets for a 7:00 p.m. start time, it is awesome, and we’ve proven it this year. Every time we have a later game, the crowds are awesome, and last night was the best by far, the most, I mean, we’ve been in a lot of section games, we’ve never had a crowd like that even at section games. Proving that playing out at Vets at 7:00 p.m. and playing those evening games under the lights, people are hyped up, they are excited, and a lot of people show up!”
The crowd was incredible, approaching 300 people watching the game with a huge contingent of students in the outfield. Both teams were represented well, and it really made for an electric night at the park.
Simon Hedin had the start on the mound for Hastings and Jackson Tessman was on the bump for Park.
The game started out very clean for Hedin with the Raiders going three up, three down for the first three innings.
“On the mound felt pretty good early in the game, I was getting ahead on guys, my fastball was getting over four strikes early in counts, so I was able to use my off speeds to try to get guys out,” Hedin said after the game.
For Tessman, the first two innings were not as clean in the books, but in the end, the scoreboard still read 0-0 even with Hastings threatening in the second.
The game was tied 0-0 as it entered the top of the fourth. Park’s Sam Janksi hit a grounder to Ben Teigland at second base who could not get a handle on it, allowing Janski to reach on an error. Janski then stole second and Will Smoot drove him in on a hard-hit fly ball double to the gap in left. Tessman swapped places with Smoot hitting a double of his own, scoring Smoot. Park had the 2-0 lead at the end of the half inning.
Hastings came right back in the bottom of the second. Teigland hit a leadoff single up the middle, Connor Stoffel hit a soft grounder to third to reach on a fielder’s choice that ended up taking Teigland off the base. Eddie Peine hit a single to advance Stoffel to second. Nick Obinger hit a single and all runners advanced an extra base on an error by the second baseman, that error allowed Stoffel to score. Devin Peterson hit a sacrifice fly to left scoring Peine and tying the game 2-2.
The remainder of the game stayed fairly clean on both sides, and it was tied heading into the seventh. Hedin was getting up there in his pitch count and he had struggled a little in the sixth inning, loading the bases but working his way out of the jam, so would he return to the mound for the seventh? What was the plan?
“The plan for me was go out there and throw strikes get ahead early try to get the first guy out. I think communicating with Pagel before that inning, it’s his job as a coach to just let me go out there and do my thing. I was locked in ready to go I got out there, the first guy got on. And I mean he did his thing as a coach, and he pulled the trigger. Got a new arm in there,” explained Hedin.
That ‘first guy’ was future Gopher, Tucker Novotny, and he proved to be troublesome with a well hit double. Jerry Schumacher came in to relieve Hedin and his first pitch was deemed a balk, sending Novotny to third. A hard-hit fly ball to center scored Novotny with the sacrifice fly to give park the lead. 3-2.
“I was just looking fastball and I got it in a good spot that I like to hit basketballs and I ended up being just a little early on it, and it kind of just caught the end of my barrel enough to get out there enough for a double,” Novotny said after the game.
Novotny empathized with the Raiders on losing Senior night and complimented the Raider Lineup. “Obviously you want to win but it’s obviously tough for the other seniors because, I mean, we’ve all played the sport for so long and we had our senior night and we won that one and it felt really good to get it and I mean, at least, it was a really good game and they all played super well.”
Hedin expanded on what the Senior night meant to him. “It always hurts not to get the win, no doubt about that. Senior Night makes maybe makes it hurt a little bit more, um, but to be honest, what hurt, we just had a close game. It always fun to play in close baseball games, it sucks to lose close baseball games, especially against a good team. And that’s what happened tonight, I mean, I’ve been playing with these guys ever since I was 10, almost half my life I’ve been playing with the same group of Seniors. So, it definitely has some weight to it has some as a little extra meaning to it, but I mean, we’re still all buddies you still love each other, we’ll show up to the park tomorrow practice and get ready to go into next week.”
Little did Hedin know, the section seeding would pit Hastings against Park to start the week, so Hastings has another shot to take down a very good baseball team. That game was Monday afternoon, Memorial Day at 4:30.
The extremely entertaining game between Hastings and Cottage Grove finished 3-2 in favor of Park on a night Hastings celebrated 11 Seniors. 11 amazing young men that have been around each other a long time playing the game they love. Many of them will get one more summer season to play together this summer between the Legion and VFW teams, and three are expected to play for the Hastings Hawks. But that’s for another time, for the Raiders, the close loss to Cottage Grove fueled their prep to travel up 61 to take on the Wolfpack for a second time in a week. Hopefully, the outcome was a bit different.
Having played 20 games in 35 days, Hastings finished the season fourth in the Metro East Conference at 9-7-0, 11-9-0 overall. The winner in Monday’s rematch will move on to play the winner of #7 Burnsville and #2 Eagan on Wednesday, 4:30 at the highest remaining seed.
The Hastings Raiders baseball seniors and their parents. L to R:#15 Ben Teigland Parents – Joanne and Pete Teigland, #27 Simon Hedin Parents – Lisa Hedin and Judy Pechacek, #14 Adam Nelson Parents – Jacky and Shannon Nelson, #13 Logan McGrath Parents – Kelly and Brent McGrath, #22 Devin Peterson Parents – Kristy Hilgardner and Nick & Jackie Peterson, #20 Jake Sandquist Parents – Jeana and Aaron Sandquist, #12 Nate Dehmlow Parents – Kris and Dwight Dehmlow, #19 Nikolas Obinger Parents – Cindy and Wally Obinger, #6 Ben Kaiser Parents – Amie and Tony Kaiser,#18 Jeremiah Schumacher Parents – Deb and Jim Schumacher, #5 Drew Vandehoef Parents – Sharon and Al Vandehoef.
Photo Courtesy of Beck Photography