Early lead turns into loss for Eagles

NEW ULM – In Luverne’s second and third innings, it wasted leadoff doubles and failed to score off New Ulm starting pitcher Tanner Kluis.

But in the fifth inning, Luverne got to the righthanded Kluis for three runs to erase a 1-0 New Ulm lead and went on to add four more runs in the sixth off reliever Bailey Batt to cruise to an 8-3 win on Saturday at Mueller Park in Section 3AA playoff game.

Kendall Meyer got the win for Luverne. He scattered four Eagles hits and struck out five.

Kluis was charged with the loss allowing seven hits in his five innings of work. He fanned five and hit two batters.

Zane Hiller paced Luverne (17-4) with four hits. Connor Hoffmann and Josh Slieter each drove in two runs.

Alex Stark drove in two runs for New Ulm (16-5).

New Ulm will now play in an elimination game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Windom against St. James Area.

“You have to tip your hats to Luverne,” said New Ulm coach Jay Backer. “They came out swinging the bats and hit the ball hard. They were the better team today.”

Luverne mounted threats in second and third on leadoff doubles from Logan Norman and Zane Hiller, but failed to produce.

“We were hanging on by the hair of our teeth for a little bit and then it got away from us,” Backer said.

New Ulm took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third having pushed a run across when Brach Kraus walked, took third on a Grant Kannegiesser base hit and scored on a fielder’s choice.

But then the game started to get away from New Ulm.

Kluis plunked Connor Crabtree, who went to second on an Andrew Verhey sacrifice bunt before Hiller beat out an infield single. After Kluis struck out Tommy Vajgrt for the second out, Connor Hoffman laced a line-drive base hit to center field that got by Chase Meyer and allowed both Crabtree and Hiller to score with Hoffmann taking third for a 2-1 Luverne lead.

Kendall Meyer then helped his own cause with an RBI single to right field for a 3-1 lead.

“Tanner left some balls up [in that inning],” Backer said. “But we knew that we would have a battle with them – we were seeing a good pitcher. Meyer was effectively wild, he threw a lot of balls but when he needed to he beared down.”

After the three-run Luverne fifth inning, Backer removed Kluis for Batt.

“Tanner was getting tired and they started to time him,” Backer said. “It was the third time through the order. When you have a team that hits the ball as well as Luverne does, they were not being fooled.”

The Cardinals added four runs in the sixth off of Batt to turn a 3-1 game into a 7-1 game going into the bottom of the sixth.

New Ulm scored two runs in the bottom of that inning on a wild pitch and a Stark base hit.

Meyer limited New Ulm bats to just four hits in the game.

“I knew that he was a good pitcher nut I thought that we would get more than four hits,” Backer said. “We have a good hitting team also. It is a loser’s bracket and I told the seniors now we will show what we are made of.”

New Ulm defeated Worthington 13-2 in five innings earlier in the day. Wyatt Peterson got the win for New Ulm. He allowed four hits.

Judd Davis had three hits and drove in two runs. Tanner Kluis also added three hits and drove in two runs. Jarin Spence had a three-run triple in the 10-run New Ulm first inning.

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