Blue comes through

MARSHALL – In its first game of the season, the Marshall VFW Blue baseball team showed new head coach Chace Pollock its resiliency with a 6-5 come-from-behind win over Luverne on Monday.

Marshall Blue needed two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning just to tie, but wound up scoring three in the walk-off win.

“It’s our first game of the season, so everybody is doing a lot of learning, players and coaches included. I’m just trying to get a feel for the kids that we’ve got here and I’ve got to feel real good after that one,” Pollock said. “I thought the kids battled back and battled through adversity well. It was a true test of character there down two in the last inning to came back and sneak out a win.”

Nate Hoeft led off the bottom of the seventh with a double. After a pair of walks and having a runner picked off of first, Brent Andries delivered an RBI single for Blue, scoring Hoeft.

A perfectly-executed safety squeeze by Dylan Criquet-Danielson in the next at-bat scored Noah Winkelman to tie the game.

“We needed that and he did a nice job with it, just to get that down and get the tying run in there,” Pollock said. “He beat it out down the line too, he hustled and we ended up having a nice little rally from everybody.”

With runners on first and second and one out, Aaron Polejewski hit into a fielder’s choice. Luverne declined the possibility of an inning-ending double play, opting instead to get the lead runner with a force-out at third base.

The decision would prove critical, however, as Derek Rasmussen poked a ground-ball through Luverne third baseman Jake Olson’s legs, allowing Criquet-Danielson to score the winning run.

For most of the Blue team, Monday’s game was their first competitive baseball since the start of the high school league playoffs. Pollock, who also coaches the Marshall High School varsity baseball team, was unsure of how his summer ballclub would respond to the layoff, but was impressed with the performance from the team.

“I thought everyone after a layoff was going to come in differently, but I thought that for the most part everyone did a nice job of making adjustments at the plate with the three good pitchers that we saw today,” Pollock said.

Blue blasted 10 hits off of Luverne’s pitching trio, as all but two Blue batters recorded a base hit.

Catcher Jack Bock led the way, going 2-for-3 with an RBI triple in the fifth inning to tie the game at 3-3. Rasmussen, who finished the game 1-for-3, had previously tied the game in the fourth with an RBI triple of his own.

Winkelman was also 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Andries went 2-for-4.

While the Marshall offense battled back to pick up the win, Polejewski worked through some adversity of his own on the mound. Marshall’s starter shook off four walks and four wild pitches to strike out seven batters and pick up the complete game victory on the mound.

“Aaron did a nice job today. I thought he threw the ball well for us,” Pollock said. “For some of these kids, it’s their first opportunity to play in a while, because of the layoff from high school to summer ball. But in shaking off that rust I’m very proud of Aaron and all the guys. I thought they all played really well today.”

Luverne had seven hits off of Polejewski, three of which came from Andrew Verhey. The Luverne shortstop was 3-for-4 on the day with two RBI, a run scored, one stolen base and a double in Luverne’s two-run first inning.

Connor Hoffman started on the bump for Luverne, allowing three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts. Hoffman also went 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk, scoring three times.

Tommy Vajgrt took the loss in 2/3 innings of relief duty for the Cardinals, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk.

Marshall Blue (1-0 overall) returns to action on Thursday with a road game against Tyler.