Cardinals crush Trojans 14-3 in Big South baseball clash

May 14—WORTHINGTON — A combination of consistent hitting, heads-up baserunning and some solid defense led to a lopsided 14-3 win for the Luverne Cardinals baseball team over the Worthington Trojans on Monday.

In a game made up from its originally scheduled date of April 2, the Cardinals had an eventful fourth inning that helped them pull away from the Trojans at the Worthington Middle School field.

"A great game today, beautiful day for baseball," said Cardinals head coach Phillip Paquette. "Boys played pretty well. We had good pitching throughout, defensively did what we needed to do and at the plate found ways to produce runs. Had some nice hitting efforts at the plate today, moved guys around when we needed to and were able to get a lot of guys in throughout the course of the game and those guys too, had some good at bats and found ways to produce at the plate."

Luverne broke through and score the first run in the second inning. Conner Connell led off with a single before reaching second on an error. Alex Schlosser then followed that with a single before both he and Connell stole bases to end up at second and third respectively.

Two outs later, Blake Sauer stepped up and smacked a double to score both Connell and Schlosser for a 2-0 Cardinal lead. Carter Sehr followed that up with an RBI double to put the team up 3-0.

Will Serie then connected for a hit and Sehr tried to score off of it, but a nice throw from Trojan shortstop Tucker Brandner to catcher Austin Gruis caught Sehr out at home plate for the third out.

The Trojans then looked to capitalize off the defensive play with some offense in the bottom of the second. They would when Gruis hit a leadoff home run to left-center field to put the Trojans on the board.

Stroh led off with a single in the top of the third inning for Luverne, reached second on a fielder's choice and then took third on a wild pitch. After Schlosser was walked, another wild pitch advanced him to third and scored Stroh for a 4-1 lead.

The fourth inning was when the Cardinals started to blow the game wide open. Their first seven batters all reached base and they batted through the entire lineup as they scored six runs in the inning off just three hits.

2-RBI singles from Serie and Landon Ahrendt scored four of the Cardinal runs and the other two were scored off errors. Just like that, the Cardinal lead grew to 10-1.

The fourth inning also saw a pitching change from WHS as starter Cade Grimmius was pulled early in the inning and replaced by Logan Kerkaert. Grimmius finished with five strikeouts through three innings.

"I think Cade started well on the mound and then you know, as we got to that second, third time through the order, batters got more comfortable," Paquette said. "And then with the pitching change, sometimes that can always provide a little bit of a spark, go one or two ways kind of thing you know, and I think they were just seeing it well."

Luverne's lead then stretched to double digits in the top of the fifth as the team started rotating in different role players. Sehr led off with a single and then scored off an RBI from Josh Hansen. Hansen tried to stretch a double into a triple, but was caught out at third on the play.

The Trojans were suddenly down to their last three outs heading into the bottom of the fifth due to the 10 run mercy rule.

The inning started with a one-out single from Dawson Svalland. After Luverne got the second out, Tucker Brandner stepped up and smacked an RBI double to score Svalland and keep the game alive.

Despite the WHS efforts to stretch the game into a sixth inning, the Cardinals scored three more runs. Sauer, Sehr and Landyn Lais each hit RBIs to score those three runs and make the score 14-2.

In the bottom of the sixth, WHS scored its final run when Gruis was hit by a pitch and Dominic Pavelko followed with a walk. Back-to-back wild pitches led to Gruis scoring and Pavelko advancing to third. The Cardinals then got three consecutive strikeouts to end the game.

Three players pitched for Luverne. Stroh started the game and pitched two and a third innings with four strikeouts. Kai Buss pitched the next two innings and got two strikeouts before Sauer finished the game and fanned four Trojan batters.

At the plate, Luverne totaled 17 hits and reached base 23 times. Sauer finished 4-of-5 and scored three times, Sehr reached base in all five at bats and scored twice and Stroh reached base three times. The Cardinal defense committed zero errors.

I think defense especially in Minnesota where we play, it's a progression throughout the year. You start and the fields aren't ready and you haven't gotten the reps outside, that kind of thing. And once you get to this time of the year, the players once again, they're starting to get a little more comfortable, a little more confident in making those plays," Paquette said on his team's defense. "And obviously they've seen the ball off the bat, So they're making those reads a little cleaner and a little quicker and able to produce outs."

For the Trojans, they finished with five hits and reached base eight times. Mathias Noble hit a double and was hit by a pitch in the fifth, Gruis had the home run, was hit by a pitch in the sixth and scored twice. Pavelko reached base twice and Svalland reached base twice and scored a run. Kerkaert struck out three Luverne batters in the final three innings on the mound.

Their season record following the loss is 6-10 overall and 2-7 in Big South Conference big school play. They are currently on a four-game losing streak heading into a tough home doubleheader Tuesday against a good Marshall team. The Tigers are 12-3 this season.

The Cardinals keep their season rolling along. They move to a 13-4 overall record and are 8-2 in the Big South small school standings as the regular season winds down. All they have left before the conference championship Saturday is a home doubleheader against St. James on Thursday.

The Big South Championship will match up the top team among the big schools against the top team from the small schools. The Cardinals are currently second behind Windom Area in the small school standings.

"Hopefully we can be in the big school, small school championship on Saturday if we play well," Paquette said. "And then that's kind of a preview to the playoffs. It's similar to the playoff atmosphere, so that's what we're telling these guys is 'treat it that way, earn that that big school small school championship appearance on Saturday that we would host,' and then we got kind of a light week next week and playoffs are here so you know, just always getting better."

Luverne 031 613 — 14 17 0

Worthington 010 011 — 3 5 3