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Amateur Baseball: Lake City escapes with home victory

Lake City catcher Jack Purvis tags out Hastings' Brandon Morgan trying to score for the final out of the third inning Thursday in Lake City. The Serpents held on for a 3-2 victory. (Photo by Chris Harrell/Republican-Eagle)1 / 2
Lake City's Brett Gwaltney releases a pitch during the second inning of Thursday's 3-2 victory over Hastings at Bill Kieffer Field in Lake City. Gwaltney struck out six in 6 2/3 innings to pick up the win. (Photo by Chris Harrell/Republican-Eagle)2 / 2

LAKE CITY – Loss after loss piled up for Lake City to start the season.

The Serpents dropped their first nine games of the summer, struggling through poor pitching and shoddy defense.

But on Thursday, Lake City took advantage of Hastings’ miscues and got 6 2/3 solid innings from Brett Gwaltney to win its fourth consecutive game, a 3-2 Classic Cannon Valley League victory at Bill Kieffer Field.

“We’re making the routine plays and getting outs, not leaving extra guys on,” Serpents’ manager Scott Gwaltney said. “The pitching is a little bit better but overall the defense is the catalyst.”

Brett Gwaltney gave up one earned run on seven hits and five walks. He struck out six.

“I was getting ahead with the fastball,” Brett Gwaltney said. “Once I get ahead in counts, I can use my off-speed to get guys out and make good pitches.”

The victory didn’t come without some controversy.

Taylor Beattie led off the ninth inning with a walk for Hastings. In the next at-bat, Beattie advanced to second on a wild pitch and Nick Horsch bunted pinch-runner Greg Campbell Jr. to third but Horsch was called out on a disputed play at first base, causing the Hawks’ bench to erupt in frustration.

With one out, Jordy Horsch flew out to short left field, keeping the runner at third base, and Brandon Morgan grounded out to second base to secure Lake City’s victory.

“We got some breaks and we haven’t been getting any breaks,” Scott Gwaltney said. “Right now, we’re winning and putting things together.”

The Serpents (4-9, 3-9 CCVL) tallied just six hits in the win but had three in the first inning to score all three of its runs. Brett Gwaltney led off with a single, Austin Baab followed with a single and Matt Miller grounded out to bring in the first run of the game. In the next at-bat, Hunter Baab hit a groundball to shortstop but the throw was way over the first baseman, allowing Austin Baab to score from second for a 2-0 lead. Derek Sogla ripped a double down the left-field line to plate Lake City’s final run with two outs in the first inning.

Hastings’ offense was quiet until the seventh inning as Campbell Jr. led off the inning with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on an error by Brett Gwaltney. Jordy Horsch bunted for a hit and Gwaltney threw the ball into the right field on the play to plate Campbell Jr. Morgan followed with a single but the runner was held at third. A pick-off attempt during the ensuing at-bat caught Morgan in a rundown and Horsch was thrown out at home on the play. Deryk Marks knocked a single to centerfield to cut the deficit to 3-2 as Brett Gwaltney was removed from the game.

“They made good adjustments, they were hitting my fastball and they knew I was getting ahead with that so they were sitting fastball,” Brett Gwaltney said, “and all of the sudden I hit a wall and just ran out of gas a little bit.”

Eric Sandstrom came in relief and pitched the final 2 1/3 innings to pick up the save.

Brett Gwaltney finished 1-for-3 with a run scored out of the leadoff spot and Derek Sogla went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI for Lake City. Ben Edelbach was 2-for-3 hitting ninth in the batting order.

Kyle Fritz pitched all eight innings for Hastings (11-11-1), giving up one earned run, walking two and striking out seven. Morgan was 2-for-5 with a run scored, Marks went 1-for-3 with a stolen base and an RBI and Spencer Diedrich finished 1-for-2 with two walks. Nick Horsch was 1-for-3.

Next up, Hastings will attempt to snap a five-game losing streak Friday at home against Blaine and Lake City will go for five straight Sunday on the road against Randolph.

“The first three-quarters of the season, we were always playing from behind and trying to battle our way back and that’s so tough to do,” Brett Gwaltney said. “Lately, we’ve just been having fun and staying loose.”

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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