Trinity’s baseball season comes to an end against Jac-Cen-Del

OSGOOD — Two high school baseball teams met on the same diamond for the second time in 10 days.

In the first game May 20, Trinity Lutheran came out on top 10-8 against host Jac-Cen-Del for its fifth win in a row.

The second time around was Monday morning in the second game of the Class A Sectional 60, and the host Eagles got revenge with a 6-1 victory.

Jac-Cen-Del scored once in the second inning and four times in the third and added its other run in the sixth to advance to the sectional championship game that night.

“We battled,” Cougars coach Ben Kleber said. “It wasn’t our best day at the plate, but we tried to work through it. Their guy (pitcher Kameron Darnold) did a good job of getting ahead and throwing strikes early, and that’s what you want to do. And when you’re behind one strike every time, that makes it tough. If we clean up those mistakes at the beginning, it’s a lot closer game.”

After a scoreless first inning, Jac-Cen-Del struck first when Ryan Wilson led off with a single and later came around to score on a two-out ground ball to third base hit by Darnold, who beat the throw to first base. An ensuing flyout left two runners on base.

In the bottom of the second inning, with one out, Evan Hunt singled into center field for Trinity. Cole Brewer later was safe on a high popup that dropped to the ground with two outs, but the inning ended on a tagout on an attempted steal. Trinity left two runners on base.

Jac-Cen-Del’s leadoff batter in the third inning, Brady Borgman, also came up with a hit, a double that went under the fence in center field. Trinity pitcher Kowan Gross then struck out his fourth batter of the game, but an error that followed on a hit to left field allowed Borgman’s courtesy runner, Dylan Ricke, to score for a 2-0 game.

Gross then gave up a walk to Wilson and an RBI single to Devin Grieshop, setting the score at 3-0. An error on a pickoff attempt while the next batter was up sent Wilson across the plate to make it 4-0.

Nathan Voelker then replaced Gross on the mound, and a runner scored on a wild pitch before Voelker recorded a strikeout and the shortstop caught a line drive to end the inning.

Trinity regrouped in the bottom of the third on offense. Voelker hit a one-out single into left field, and he later scored when Sage Broughton made it to first base on an error. Andrew Bell then drew a two-out walk, but a lineout to first base ended the Cougars’ threat.

Voelker got out of a two-out bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth inning on a popout to catcher Nathan Finke.

Both teams went down in order in the fifth inning, including Voelker striking out the side in the top half and Wilson striking out two in the bottom half.

In the sixth inning, Jac-Cen-Del added an insurance run when Darnold was hit by a pitch and then scored on Justin Swinney’s hit into left field for a 6-1 game. The Cougars ended the inning on a pickoff at first base and Voelker striking out two.

Neither team scored in the seventh inning, but Trinity made it interesting when Hunt led off with his second hit of the game and Luke Coomler drew a walk. Wilson was able to strike out the next two batters and get the next one to ground out to the shortstop.

Kleber said a better start could have changed the outcome.

“We showed up a little flat, made some base-running mistakes in the first two innings and then (Wilson) settled in,” he said. “You’ve got to get a good start early, and we didn’t get to him early, and he settled in.”

Voelker and Hunt led the Cougars’ offense with two hits apiece, and Brewer had one. Trinity, though, committed three errors.

The Eagles finished with eight hits and two errors.

Hunt was Trinity’s only senior.

“You can’t say enough about Evan,” Kleber said. “He had two hits. He showed up ready to play. He’s pretty torn up right now, but he has done a great job for our program. He’s my first freshman that finished all the way through the program, so I couldn’t be more proud of him. He’s going to do great things.”

The rest of the Cougars’ lineup will return next season, so that’s promising.

“We’ve got a lot back to work with,” Kleber said. “We started 2-16. You look at that and you finish the year 9-19, you can’t be a lot happier than that. They battled, they got better, but the bats just didn’t show up (Monday).”