Legion Gold holds off Hutchinson, 7-5

NEW ULM – New Ulm Legion Gold battled Hutchinson for six and a half innings and came away from Mueller Park with a 7-5 victory.

New Ulm took advantage of Paxton Jordahl’s inability to hit the strike zone to put up two runs in the first inning. Tim Kehren led off the game with a walk, his first of three in the game. After a stolen base, Judd Davis blasted a double for the first run of the game. Davis scored on fielder’s choice later in the inning for Gold’s second run on only one hit in the inning.

“We try to teach them to wait for their pitch, to be confident,” Manager Bob Weier said. “And then when they get two strikes, cover the plate. Foul off the good pitches at the pitcher. Don’t let the pitcher get you out on a pitcher’s pitch. Make him work out there.”

New Ulm added two more runs when Tanner Kluis scored with help from two errors by the Hutchinson second baseman. Broch Kraus scored the second run on a sacrifice fly.

Kluis pitched strikes for New Ulm to keep Hutchinson off the board in the first three innings. Kluis got up in count on batter after batter, which made him even more difficult to hit.

“He’s got pretty good control of his pitches,” Weier said. “Once he gets ahead, he’s got a lot of confidence to throw any pitch on any count. That’s big for a kid.”

Kluis did seem to hit a wall in the fourth inning. He gave up three of his five hits and his only walk in the fourth. That cost New Ulm three runs, the third coming from a Trent Reinke single. Kluis finished the inning with his seventh strikeout in a no decision.

Reliever Drew Pfaff got off to a rocky start, and Hutchinson picked up its hitting again in the fifth inning. An early double and single led to a sacrifice fly and a Jordahl RBI double to five Hutchinson a 5-4 going into the bottom of the fifth.

New Ulm responded with some impressive hitting of its own. A Kraus single got things going for Gold. Jacob Gieseke came up big with the bases loaded, blasting a two run double. Tim Kehren followed with an RBI single.

“I thought that Jake Gieseke probably had the at bat of the game. He had two strikes on himself, he had just missed a suicide, and he came through with a big line drive to center field that gave us the lead at that point,” Weier said.

New Ulm worked the bases full again when Hutchinson decided to pull Jordahl from the game. Riley Stenzel came in and got the last two outs without allowing a run to score. Jordahl suffered the loss for Hutchinson, allowing eight hits and seven runs, five earned.

Pitching with the lead, Pfaff really stepped up his game in the final two innings. He retired all three batters in the sixth and finished the seventh by only giving up one walk. Pfaff got the win, going three innings with four strikeouts and one walk. He allowed three runs on three hits.

“We got a lot of confidence in Drew,” Weier said. “We feel that he’s probably got the best curveball on the team. He’s got fairly good control. He changes speeds well for us. He’s probably a one or two inning pitcher for us, and he gives it all he’s got… He battled hard, especially in that sixth inning after we got the lead. He got them one, two, three, and that’s huge. Don’t open up the door for them again.”

New Ulm (6-4) plays on at 4 p.m. Saturday against Pine Island in Searles.

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