Warrior baseball moves to .500 for season


Kendahl Schlueter

First year infielder Zac Stange makes an attempt for second base in a double header against Sioux Falls University on Friday, March 23 in Loughrey Field, the Warriors won both games against the Cougars 5-1 and 4-3.

Mitchell Breuer, Editor-In-Chief

It was a successful first weekend back at home for the Winona State University baseball team.

After only winning once last weekend, the unit won three of the four games in their series against the University of Sioux Falls.

“I thought we played some good baseball this week,” sophomore Derek Martin said. “We executed when we needed to and played solid defense. We stuck to our game plan and it paid off for us.”

After a schedule change forced them to play in La Crosse, Wisconsin, the Warriors once again started off the week with a change of plans. Though the team did not have to travel to a different location, their weekend series at home was changed to a weekday due to inclement weather, moving the games to Thursday, March 22 and Friday, March 23.

The first outing of the week started off strong for the Warriors, as a single by sophomore first basemen Sam Kohnle allowed sophomore outfielder Andrew Pliner to score the first run of the afternoon.

As the game carried on, Martin proved to a be a critical part of the team’s success, as during the fourth he hit a single to center field, allowing sophomore Chad Herbst to score. Later in the sixth, he provided another hit, this time in the form of the lone home run of the game, giving Winona a three run lead heading into the seventh.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, sophomore pitcher Caleb Schoenholz, who pitched the entire game, would not allow the visiting team to catch up, allowing zero runs and just three hits during the first six innings.

“Coach Johnson, our pitching coach, wants all of our pitchers to have the mindset that they are finishing every game they start on the mound,” Schoenholz said. “Going into that game, that’s what I wanted to do, and was glad I could do that.”

The University of Sioux Falls Cougars struck back in the seventh, scoring a run, and having two on base, with one in position to score. But with two outs, he would get his eighth and final strikeout of the game to give the Warriors the win with a final score of 3-1.

“Overall I am pretty happy with my performance on Thursday. I think I executed most of my pitches when I needed to,” Schoenholz said.

While the first game Thursday was precisely what Winona wanted, the second was not.

After going scoreless in the opening inning, Sioux Falls took off early in the second inning after a run scored off a double and did not look back, scoring two more runs in the following inning.

Kendahl Schlueter
Sophomore Sam Kohnle gets ready to bat for the Warriors against Sioux Falls University at Loughrey Field on Friday, March 23.

Things began to look up for the Warriors in the third inning, as a sacrifice bunt by first-year infielder Tanner Williams advanced Martin to second, and sophomore catcher Nick Nalewanski to third with only one out. However, they failed to capitalize and continued to struggle to put points up. Meanwhile, the Cougars did not stop, as they put up a combined 11 points in the fourth and fifth, which included the game’s only home run, a grand slam to center.

Winona eventually lost the game with a final score of 14-0, ending with only three hits to Sioux Falls’ 15, and committed three errors defensively.

The first game Friday proved to be a bounce-back day for the Warriors, as in the first game they only allowed one and zero runs in the first three innings.

On the other side of the ball, the team started off slow at-bat, not getting a hit until the third, but were able to shift the momentum their way in the same inning. After getting behind two outs, a single by senior catcher Taylor Field allowed Pliner to score the first run of the game. A wild pitch allowed Field to advance to second and Kohnle to third, both of whom would bring in runs after Williams hit the ball to right field, extending the lead to three. Herbst capped off the inning by getting on base with Williams getting to home.

Kendahl Schlueter
First year Dillon Whittaker pitches against the University of Sioux Falls on Friday, March 23 in a double header at Loughrey Field.

The Warriors continued to extend their lead in the fifth by a base hit by first-year outfielder Nathan Loomis, allowing senior infielder Kipp Youngquist to score the team’s fifth run.

Despite allowing players to get on base in the following innings, Winona gave up one run and won the first game of the day with a final score of 5-1.

In the second game, the team picked up where they the left off earlier in the day, with first-year infielder Zac Stange, Pliner and Kohnle scoring to give them an early three-run lead.

After having only two hits in the first five innings, the Cougars began mounting a comeback, scoring three runs in the sixth to tie the ballgame.

Kendahl Schlueter
Sophomore Andrew Pliner slides home, scoring a home run on Friday, March 23 in a double header against Sioux Falls University at Loughrey Field.

The game became a defensive battle, as neither team could get anything going in regulation, forcing overtime. Junior pitcher Jacob Watzka, who came in relief for first-year Austin Savary, was a big part of the this, coming up with 11 strikeouts in his seven innings in the game.

After six scoreless innings, the game finally ended in the 13th, after a single by Stange allowed Martin the walk-off run, winning the game and the series for the Warriors.

“It was an awesome moment for me and my teammates, [we had] a sense of relief that all the hard work payed off,” Martin said. “We battled with a good Sioux Falls team and to come out on top after 13 innings was a great feeling.”

With the wins this week, the team improves to a record of 5-10 and is .500 in conference play (4-4).

Next weekend the Warriors will return to the road for a Friday/Saturday series against the 10-11, University of Minnesota Crookston. Games will start at 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 30 and 12 p.m. on Saturday, March 31.