Amateur Baseball: Aces win CCVL title; await playoff fate
HASTINGS – The Red Wing Aces wanted to control everything they could on Sunday.
Taking a 10-4 road victory over the Hastings Hawks, Red Wing was able to clinch the Classic Cannon Valley League title and finished with a 7-3 record against Section 1B opponents.
“This was an important game for us to win,” said Aces’ first baseman Zach Garner. “Hastings is always a good team, although they’re struggling a little bit this year. We were able to get the bats going at the right time.”
As far as its postseason destiny, that’s now out of Red Wing’s control.
Sitting in a tie with Dundas with a 7-3 section record, the Aces and Dukes will have their eyes on Tuesday’s game between Elko and Miesville. If the Mudhens, who are at 6-3 in section play, defeat Elko, Red Wing will drop to the No. 3 seed and will play No. 6 Hastings on July 28. If Elko is victorious on Tuesday, the Aces will get the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye.
“We did our part,” said Aces’ co-manager Andy Gibart. “We can’t control what happens with Miesville and Elko on Tuesday. But today was a good sign of things to come. Our bats came up big today and that was good to see in a big section game.”
Red Wing took control of its destiny early on Sunday, tacking on a pair of run in the top of the first inning. Adam Thygesen led off with a double, followed by an RBI double by Garner. Garner reached home on a groundout by Steve Boldt.
The Hawks added a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning, but offense was hard to come by over the next three innings as Red Wing starting pitcher Aaron Johnson hunkered down on the mound. The hard-throwing lefty retired 11 straight batters, including nine straight in the second, third and fourth innings.
Johnson went seven innings, striking out 10 and allowing seven Hastings hits to get the win.
“Aaron, once he gets into a groove, he’s not going to be beat,” Gibart said. “He found his spots today.”
Breaking out of its own offensive funk in the top of the fifth, Red Wing added two runs, with RBI singles by Garner and Jimmy Bohmbach.
Helping tally RBI hits in the sixth and eighth innings, Garner finished 3-for-5 with a double, a triple, three RBI and two runs for the Aces.
“I was definitely feeling comfortable at the plate, especially in the last couple at-bats,” Garner said. “I was able to squeeze some balls in the gap. I was seeing the ball really well today.”
Gibart said of Garner, “Over the last 10 games, he’s been swinging the bat really well. I think this is his fifth multi-hit game in six games. He’s finally settling in for us at first base and has secured himself in that No. 2 spot in the order.”
Putting six straight runners on base in the top of the sixth, the Aces took command with a 7-1 lead. Tyler Goering and Boldt had RBI singles, and Garner drew a bases-loaded walk.
Hastings closed the gap in the bottom of the seventh, opening the frame with three consecutive singles to put the score at 7-3. But Red Wing responded in kind in the top of the eighth with an RBI triple from Garner and another one-run single by Boldt. The Aces’ final run came in the ninth on a double from Thygesen that scored Dave Jenson from first.
Red Wing (26-5, 11-3 CCVL) finished with 15 total hits, an impressive feat for the Aces after one of the team’s hottest hitters, Mike Stegora, left the game in the second inning with an injury.
“We can go deep with our lineup,” Gibart said. “It’s fun to be able to play so many guys. To get double-digit hits and double-digit runs was big for us. We just need to keep on winning that way.”
Thygesen, Garner and Jenson each finished with three hits, with Thygesen and Jenson each scoring three runs in the Red Wing win. Boldt was 2-for-5 with three RBI, and Bohmbach was 2-for-5 with an RBI.
The Hawks’ Brandon Morgan, Drew Benson and Jordan Jeske had two hits apiece in the loss.
On Wednesday, the Aces play the Rochester Royals in Rochester for a non-league game. But on Tuesday, Red Wing will be Elko fans for a night in hopes of getting the section’s top seed.
“We’re trying not to think about it; we just have to work about getting our wins and playing baseball,” Garner said.