Baseball: Cougars shut down by La CrescentZUMBROTA – To say Eric Veglahn found a groove in his first outing of the year against the Zumbrota-Mazeppa baseball team is an understatement.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
ZUMBROTA – To say Eric Veglahn found a groove in his first outing of the year against the Zumbrota-Mazeppa baseball team is an understatement.
Veglahn, a left-handed pitcher for La Crescent, threw six innings and struck out 15 hitters in a 6-0 victory against the Cougars Tuesday in the season opener.
“He was pretty unhittable in the first game of the season,” Z-M head coach Chuck Ohm said. “He was hitting his spots. When he throws as well as he did, it’s extra tough.”
Senior Zach VanOstrand returned from a wrist injury suffered during football season to pitch 3 2/3 innings for the Cougars, giving up three hits and three runs. He was cleared to play one week before the season and struggled with the command of his pitches in his first game on the mound. He walked six including three in the top of the fourth inning after getting the first two outs.
“He had to battle,” Ohm said. “They’re a good team. Getting ahead is big. He couldn’t quite get out of that fourth inning … He’ll get better as the season goes.”
Junior Cody Krueger led Z-M (0-1) with two of the team’s four hits. The Cougars struck out a total of 17 times in the loss.
“(Veglahn) had good off-speed,” Krueger said. “We’re a young team. We need to work on our two-strike approach.”
Z-M graduated four starters from last year’s Hiawatha Valley League championship team, including all-state selections Cody Lodermeier and Josh Shirley.
The Lancers, ranked second in a preseason coaches’ poll, were led by Peter Bateman and University of Minnesota recruit Troy Traxler. Bateman went 2-for-3 with two doubles and Traxler was 2-for-4 with a triple and two RBI.
La Crescent’s first run came in the top of the first inning on back-to-back doubles by Bateman and Zack Melbostad with two outs. The score remained 1-0 until the fourth inning when Traxler singled in two runs off junior Kevin Niebuhr, who relieved VanOstrand to face Traxler with two outs after three straight walks to the 7-8-9 hitters.
The Lancers added two runs in the fifth inning and another in the sixth on an error by Niebuhr on a bunt that scored Traxler from third.
“We let some guys take some extra bases and we can’t do that,” Ohm said. “We’ll keep growing.”
The Cougars threatened to score off Veglahn in the bottom of the sixth inning but left the bases loaded on a called third strike for the final out of the inning.
“Yeah, the guy throws hard,” Ohm said. “But, we can’t take until the fifth inning to get him timed up. We had some big, loopy swings and we have to fix that.”
Z-M will attempt to rebound against Stewartville Thursday, April 12 in Stewartville.