Season ends in section tournament
The opportunities were there for the NRHEG baseball team. Unfortunately, the key hits were not.
The result was a season-ending 5-0 loss to LeSueur-Henderson Friday, May 26 in the opening round of section play. Combined with a 9-1 nonconference loss to Zumbrota-Mazeppa earlier in the week, the Panthers finished 6-14 overall. They were 4-8 in the Gopher Conference.
LSH 5, NRHEG 0
After playing the heavily favored Giants close for four innings, the Panthers’ season came to an abrupt end with the home team plating three runs in the sixth to put it away.
“Overall, I thought we played a solid four innings of baseball,” said NRHEG coach Drew Paukert. “We had our opportunities offensively. We just couldn’t come through with a clutch hit when we needed it.”
Jack Schultz started on the mound and pitched well, allowing three earned runs on five hits, walking five and fanning four. The defense let him down with three errors.
“Jack pitched great,” said Paukert. “After the fourth inning we didn’t make some plays for him that we should have probably made. I thought the difference in the game was they made a few plays defensively when we weren’t able to and they came through with runners on and we were unable to. Overall, I was pleased with the way we came out and fought.”
Jason Jongbloedt was 2-for-3, Schultz 1-for-3 with a double and Cole Staloch 1-for-2 for NRHEG.
Z-M 9, NRHEG 1
In what’s become an annual contest with Paukert’s alma mater, the visiting Cougars held the advantage this year at Jeff and Carol Reese Field Monday, May 22.
Winning pitcher Kevin Nordquist was the difference, throwing a one-hitter while striking out five and walking one. Schultz gave up five earned runs on four hits for the loss.
The Panthers kept it close early, trailing 2-1 after four innings but struggling defensively after that, finishing with four errors.
Freshman Jake Tasker had NRHEG’s hit. Jongbloedt scored the run.
“Defensively, we struggled from the fourth inning on,” said Paukert. “When we needed to make plays, we were not able to. ZM was able to extend some innings and score at least three of their runs after an error that should have ended the inning.”
The 2017 Panthers graduate three seniors in Jongbloedt, Schultz and Sam Prigge.