As Rivertown Days festivities were going on around Hastings, the young Hastings Hawks townball team continued to make positive strides by picking up two impressive wins as they fight for playoff …
As Rivertown Days festivities were going on around Hastings, the young Hastings Hawks townball team continued to make positive strides by picking up two impressive wins as they fight for playoff positioning in the Classic Cannon Valley League.
Before this story continues, you are probably wondering… Hastings Hawks in a Cottage Grove paper? Yes, there are a few Hawks players from Cottage Grove, so it does make sense!
First up on Saturday was a home game against the traditional Class B powerhouse Dundas Dukes. This was a makeup game from a rainout back in late May, and after the Hawks traditional River Rumble game against Prescott fell through earlier in the year, both managers agreed that this past Saturday would be the perfect opportunity to make sure that the Hawks had a home game during Rivertown Days weekend, and it turned out to be a fortunate turn of events, as both teams gave the fans in attendance a heck of a show.
The Hawks came into the game a bit shorthanded dealing with lingering injuries across the roster and gave the ball to Cottage Grove’s Max Bundschu for his second start of the season on Saturday afternoon. Max has been a guy that has performed very nicely in a reserve role since returning to the team last year, and turned in a nice performance on Sunday, keeping the team in the game by pitching 5⅓ solid innings against a tough and experienced Dundas lineup. The teams traded two runs in the first, the Dukes touching Bundschu for two runs on two hits, a walk, and some early struggles behind the plate by Cory Wolters, the Hawks normal center fielder who gamely stepped up to fill in after the Hawks regular first four options at catcher were unable to play due to injury or absence on the afternoon. Although it should be mentioned Cory settled in after that and played a rock-solid game behind the plate for the rest of the day. The Hawks answered in the bottom of the inning, as Wolters and rookie Josh Hawksford reached, and were knocked in by a scorching two run triple from shortstop Blake Warner. Bundschu settled in at that point, putting up four scoreless innings in a row. Meanwhile, Hastings put up one run in the second and two in the third, innings highlighted by two base hits from Isaac Flynn who came around to score twice as part of a 4-hit day, and two singles from Max Bundschu himself to support his own cause.
Max ran into some trouble in the 6th. After getting the first batter to fly out, he gave up a walk and a double and was replaced by his brother Ben Bundschu. Ben was greeted rudely by the Dukes giving up three quick hits around a hit batsman, and it was only a great running catch by Jake Biermaier out in right field who then doubled a runner off of second that allowed the Hawks to escape the inning trailing only 6-5. However, the Hawks battled back in the bottom of the inning. After Andrew Kemper reached on an error, left fielder Jordan Jeske (another CG guy) extended his hit streak to 14 games by stinging a double, followed by a Biermaier single to give the Hawks the lead back at 7-6. The Hawks picked up two more runs in the next two innings and gave one up in the 8th to grab a 9-7 lead in the last inning and set the stage for some heroics. Andrew Kemper was brought in to close the game, and retired two batters around a base hit, before a Hawks error put runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs. With the game on the line, the Dukes Justin King smoked a ball towards the gap that seemed destined to land for a game tying double until Hawks left fielder and team MVP candidate Jordan Jeske raced into the gap and snared the ball on a full speed dive to bring the game to a thrilling conclusion and secure a 9-7 victory.
The Hawks had little time to revel in that victory as they faced an even more important game 24 hours later, traveling south to take on the Red Wing Aces in a game vital for playoff positioning in the gridlocked CCVL Class C standings. The Hawks had expected to turn to their 2021 pitching ace Jordan Jeske to take the ball, but after landing hard on his shoulder making the game saving catch against Dundas, Jeske was unable to go. So, the Hawks turned to their 2020 ace Will Lavin, who has been limiting his pitch count this summer in anticipation of his upcoming Junior season up at Bemidji State University. But Lavin took the ball when the Hawks needed him on Sunday, and he was dominant against the Aces batters. Will retired 12 batters in a row after a leadoff single, going 5⅔ innings giving up only two hits and three walks while striking out eight, picking up his second win of the season.
Meanwhile, Sam Palmatier was matching Lavin pitch for pitch for awhile on the Red Wing side of things. After giving up 3 straight singles followed up by a Sac Fly from the DHing Jeske to start the game, Palmatier cruised through the next four innings to bring us to the 6th locked in a 1-0 pitcher’s duel. Then, the Hawks bats broke through again. Jeske and Flynn singled, followed up by a clutch two out RBI single by Jake Biermaier. An Aces error allowed a second run to score, before Jake was cut down at third on a very close play. The Hawks added two more in the 8th as Park Graduate Jason Greeder and Josh Hawksford each singled and were knocked in by Jordan Jeske and Isaac Flynn respectively, and two more in the top of the 9th as Hawksford continued his phenomenal rookie season, capping a four for five day with a towering two run homer in the top of the 9th. Andrew Kemper closed the door on the Aces with 3⅓ innings allowing only one run for his second save of the weekend and third of the year, and the Hawks finished their conference schedule for 2021 with a huge 7-1 win against Red Wing. Of additional note was Zack Jorgenson, who appeared in his first game of the year for the team and played an excellent game behind the plate for the catching starved Hawks.
The Hawks finished their CCVL season 7-9 in conference, including 3-3 against fellow CCVL Class C teams, the best mark in several years for the young club, which appears to be making rapid strides from week to week and getting hot just as the playoffs are rolling around. The Hawks will close their regular season slate at home this coming Friday vs the Minneapolis River Rats at 7:30 PM before heading into the playoffs. There are still some things to shake out in the standings, but it appears the most likely scenario will have the Hawks hosting a home playoff game in the State sub regionals on July 28th, opponent to be determined.