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Baseball: Z-M and Cannon Falls split doubleheader

Cannon Falls' Taylor Carlson prepares to deliver a pitch during Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader against Zumbrota-Mazeppa in Zumbrota. Carlson struck out six in four innings and picked up the victory in a 5-2 win. Photo by Chris Harrell1 / 2
Zumbrota-Mazeppa senior Jordan Thompson connects with a pitch during Saturday's doubleheader against Cannon Falls. Thompson went 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the two games. Photo by Chris Harrell2 / 2

ZUMBROTA - The first inning gave Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Cannon Falls fits Saturday as the two teams split a Hiawatha Valley Blue Division doubleheader.

In Game 1, the Bombers scored four runs in the first inning and the Cougars responded with four runs of their own on three hits and three walks before an out was recorded in the bottom half of the first. Z-M maintained its momentum and took the first game 11-6, scoring a run in the third inning, two in the fourth inning and three in the fifth inning for the victory.

"They didn't get down, they didn't hang their heads, they just kept playing,' Cougars head coach Chuck Ohm said of his team's effort in the opener. "That's what happens when you do those things."

Chase Steffen went 3-for-3 with a stolen base and four RBI for Z-M (1-3, 1-2 HVL Blue) in Game 1, and Cody Krueger was 2-for-3 with a triple and four RBI in the win. Jacob Ugland picked up the victory in relief for the Cougars, throwing the final three innings.

Cannon Falls (2-1, 1-1 HVL Blue) was led by Garrett Beach, who went 1-for-2 with a double and three RBI. Noah Callister reached base in every at-bat and was 2-for-3 with two runs scored in the loss. He also pitched the first three innings of Game 1 for the Bombers (2-1, 1-1 HVL Blue), giving up five runs on five hits while walking five. He also struck out five.

"The fresher he is, the more that happens," Cannon Falls head coach Bucky Lindow said of Callister's early control problems. "We might have to adjust his pregame, try to tire him out a little."

The Bombers jumped ahead again in Game 2 as Brock Peterson singled with one out, advanced to third on a double by Callister and both players came home on a single by Hunter Blakeslee for a 2-0 lead. Cannon Falls extended the lead to 5-0 in the second inning as Peterson knocked in Clay Broze and Callister scored Austin Jacobs and Peterson on a base hit.

"I was happy with our hitting," Lindow said. "Especially the way we just came out right away was good. Getting that first lead is important."

On the mound, Taylor Carlson was unhittable early for the Bombers. He set down six straight Z-M hitters to start the game, including four strikeouts. The Cougars tallied two runs in the third inning but managed just two hits against Carlson in four innings. He allowed one earned run, struck out six, walked two and hit a batter while heavily featuring his curveball.

"He showed the guy he really is," Lindow said of Carlson. "He's a competitor. He works fast and he gets things moving along."

"We just didn't put the ball in play," Ohm added. "(Carlson) pitched well. He had a nice curveball and he kept us off-balance."

Z-M got three runners on base in the final two innings against Blakeslee but stranded all three. Blakeslee struck out the final three batters of the sixth inning after walking the leadoff hitter.

Callister was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI for Cannon Falls in Game 2 while Peterson finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored and one RBI.

Austin Walstad pitched all five innings for the Cougars and settled in after a rough first two innings. He also went 1-for-2 with an RBI at the plate.

"It took him a little bit," Ohm said of Walstad. "Once he found it, he was good. He just ran out of gas."

The Bombers played Saturday without Paul Rolfes, Tyler Wilson and Ian Althoff as all three were in Washington, D.C., as part of an AP United States Government class at Cannon Falls.

"I had to get in my head that, 'They aren't here,'" Lindow said, "'Here's what we have, let's go do it.' It was mental toughness for coaches. Control what you can control."

Z-M hosts a doubleheader Monday against Kenyon-Wanamingo and Cannon Falls will face Pine Island on the road Monday before playing the Panthers again at home Tuesday.

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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