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Red Wing's Austin Strand lays down a bunt during Tuesday's Missota Conference home opener versus Chanhassen at the Red Wing Athletic Field. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

Baseball: Chanhassen spoils Red Wing home opener

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It seemed the perfect way for Red Wing’s 2014 home opener to play out. Down two runs, with two runners on, the sun about to dip below the grandstand, and the big bat of Ty Buck digging into the right-handed batter’s box, the Wingers were on the brink of an entertaining victory.

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Buck’s first pitch was a knee-bending curve. The second, a fastball perfectly placed in the bottom of the strike zone. The third, another curve, but this one Buck got a piece of to foul off. Yet another bender came on the fourth pitch, but it got away from the catcher, which prompted a meeting on the mound, and a 1-2 free pass for Buck.

Thate Peterson then popped out to second, and Chanhassen walked off the field 5-3 victors, spoiling the atmosphere with one intentional walk.

“That shows a lot of respect for Ty in this league,” said Red Wing head coach Paul Hartmann. “And certainly that did change things when the ball was in the dirt, it changed the situation. You know we have a lot of confidence in Thate, too, in that type of situation. And he’s going to come up in that situation again, and we think he’ll be able to get the job done.”

Despite some defensive miscues, including one to open the game that saw Storm lead-off man Ty Denzer tagged out trying to reach second on an infield pop-up, the Wingers were able to hang in against Chanhassen starter Zach Harris.

Dixon Irwin singled in the first inning, but was stranded two batters later. In the third, Irwin grounded into a double play, but the Wingers pushed across a run on the play. With Buck up next, Red Wing took the lead on a wild pitch just before Buck doubled to right center.

The Storm tied the game in the fifth on Nick Smith’s RBI double, but he and Ty Denzer were stranded when Cody Leitner induced Jon Leighton to pop out to second.

Chanhassen was then able to grab the lead when Jake Hokanson scored two on a single to center. The Wingers got one back in the bottom of the inning with a Ryan Jonas sacrifice fly, but Peterson and Cameron Voigt were left on base.

Smith’s second RBI of the game increased the Storm lead to two before Tait Kelly closed the door on the seventh.

Chanhassen pounded out 11 hits in the game compared to Red Wing’s six. Leitner struck out three in five innings of work, and did not issue a free pass pounding the strike zone in the process.

“It’s always hard when it’s cold, but Cody came out on short rest and pitched a great game,” Irwin said. “The cold is just one more thing to deal with… It’s kind of a shared problem.”

The temperature didn’t seem to bother Irwin, who finished 2-for-4, and was the only Winger with more than one hit.

“The first time I ran down to first base, I warmed right up,” Irwin said. “Both teams were pounding the ball, and we made the plays we needed to, but there were a couple hiccups there.”

Red Wing (1-1) will look to get back in the win column Thursday with a trip to Shakopee.

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Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at kstevens@republican-eagle.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879
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