Thoe delivers a gem as Vikings squeeze past JWP

Apr. 8—HAYFIELD — Jack Thoe pitched his best game as a Viking, but his mind was far from Hayfield as he tuned out the cold weather and wind in a 3-1 win Monday.

Thoe, who struck out eight in seven innings, was able to shake off the cold by imagining he was somewhere much warmer.

"It's all about the mindset," Thoe said. "You've just got to think you're warm and picture yourself in the Saharan desert. That's what I did."

Thoe didn't have to think too hard about a warm place as the Vikings (2-0 overall) recently took a trip to Florida to prepare for the season. Hayfield makes that trip once every two years and it serves as a great tune up for the team.

"It's so much fun and by the end of it you see how much better we are," Hayfield head coach Kasey Krekling said. "JWP was also in Florida and this game probably looked a little more sharp than a typical second game would look. Jack's put a lot of time in the weight room and he's gotten his velocity up. It's shown and it showed in Florida. He looks like he's in mid-season form and when he pitches like that, we're going to be tough to beat."

Chase Gerdts hit a solo homer to left field to put JWP up 1-0 in the top of the third and the Bulldogs also had runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the fourth. Thoe was able to escape that jam by forcing pop-out, recording a strikeout and forcing a line-out.

Hayfield used that momentum to grab the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Corbin Krueger knocked in a run with an infield single and Isaac Nelson scored on a wild pitch. Krueger knocked in an insurance run in the sixth after he executed a squeeze bunt to score Hunter Simonson, who singled and stole two bases to set up the play.

"Every time we go up for batting practice, we put down two or three bunts and we work on that suicide squeeze," Krueger said. "It definitely pays off in the games."

JWP (1-2 overall) had a runner on first and one out in the top of the seventh when Hayfield left fielder Kael Steele caught a line drive in left field and threw behind the runner to get the double play.

"I love that play from the outfield," Thoe said. "We work on that play every day and I'm glad that (Kale) took the risk and made that throw."

JWP 001 000 0 — 1 3 3

Hayfield 000 201 X — 3 6 1

Hayfield pitching: Jack Thoe (W) 7 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 8 K

Hayfield hitting: Aidan Nelson, 1-for-3; Thoe, 1-for-3; Rylan Nelsen, 0-for-2, HBP; Eric Bermea, 1-for-2, R, BB; Isaac Nelson, 0-for-2, R, BB; Hunter Simonson, 1-for-2, 2 SB, R; Corbin Krueger, 1-for-2, 2 RBIs; Nic Larsen, 1-for-3; Kael Steele, 0-for-3