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Baseball: Undefeated Paynesville Area puts up 14 runs in a win against Minnewaska

Minnewaska gives up a season-high 14 runs in a loss to undefeated Paynesville.

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Paynesville's Bennett Evans slides by the tag of Minnewaska shortstop Torii Johnson and successfully steals second base. Paynesville put up 14 runs in a game on May 20, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press
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GLENWOOD - The Minnewaska baseball team came into Friday’s game against Section 3AA foe, the Paynesville Area Bulldogs, optimistic that it could give Paynesville it’s first loss of the season.

But things didn’t go as planned as the Bulldogs scored 14 runs in a 14-1 win in five innings.

“We had a couple of mental breakdowns in the first couple innings and a couple of pitches that we left out over the plate,” Minnewaska head coach Joe Alexander said. “That's all it takes for them to get going. Paynesville is the benchmark for section 3AA baseball and we knew that coming in. They're well-coached and they're a dynasty. Coach [Brad] Skoglund has done a great job for years.”

Payneville has won 19 games or more in the last three seasons of play and went 23-3 in the 2018-19 season. Paynesville, which is ranked at No. 5 in the Class AA QRF rankings on MinnesotaScores.net, is now 15-0 this season, while Minnewaska is 12-6.

Paynesville scored at least one run in each inning and scored four runs in both the top of the third and fifth inning.

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“We caught them at the end of a 10 game in two weeks schedule and we knew the challenge was going to be tough,” Alexander said. “You have to come to play and we did not play our best. They played well and that’s what happens.”

The Bulldogs had 10 hits on the evening, including a three-run home run in the third inning by Grayson Fuchs that put the Bulldogs up 8-0.

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Paynesville's Grayson Fuchs crosses home plate after hitting a three-run home run to put Paynesville up 8-0 in the third inning of a game on May 20, 2022 against Minnewaska.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“You’ve got to play exceptional defense,” Alexander said in regards to how to prevent teams like Paynesville from scoring a bevy of runs. “You have to see each hitter's approach, pitch to their weakness and hope that they don't square something up because when they do and they get on a roll, they're really tough to stop.”

The Bulldogs are now 3-0 in section play while the Lakers are 4-4.

“They’ve been good for as long as I can remember,” Minnewaska’s Jacob Blair said. “They have good pitching all-around, they can hit the ball well and they play clean defense.”

The Lakers were held to just three hits, two of which came in the bottom of the third.

Blair earned a base hit and found his way to second. Torii Johnson then smacked an RBI double to score the Lakers' only run of the day.

Alexander said he thought that his team had good approaches at the plate and made solid contact with the ball, but that they didn’t have the hits that could’ve opened up the flood gates.

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Minnewaska's Blake Andreas (right) tries to slide into second base before Paynesville's Jevon Terres can catch the ball and force a force out in a game on May 20, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

The 14 runs is the most that Minnewaska has given up all season. The most runs it had given up in a game this season until Friday, actually came on Tuesday in game two of a doubleheader against Montevideo, an 11-9 loss.

But two non-stellar defensive outings haven’t damaged the Lakers' confidence in their defensive playmaking abilities.

“Our offense has to kind of pick up a little bit, but we've been playing pretty good D,” Blair said.

The Lakers give up an average of 3.8 runs per game this season while their offense scores six runs a game on average.

Prior to the Montevideo game on Tuesday and Friday against Paynesville, Minnewaska had allowed just 2.75 runs per game.

Hunter Johnson was the starter on the mound for the Lakers on Monday. He pitched one inning and gave up three runs. Nathan Dell then pitched from the second inning to the middle of the fifth before Blair got the last two outs.

Paynesville entered Friday’s game as the section’s second-highest ranked team, behind Fairmont (18-1), while Minnewaska came in ninth out of 14 teams.

The Lakers round off their regular season on Monday with a road game at Redwood Valley. Redwood Valley is 13-5 and is the fifth-highest rated team in the section.

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“We’re going to be ready to go,” Alexander said. “Our pitching sets up to where we're able to go with our top of the rotation guys. Then we’ll have a week of practice and will be ready for the playoffs.”

The Lakers' game against Redwood Valley on Monday begins at 4 p.m. Redwood Valley has won five out of its last six games.

“I feel we're just getting to where we need to be,” Blair said. “We haven't peaked yet. The bats are still coming around and we have a good defense.”

Paynesville - 3 1 4 2 4 - 14 10 3

Minnewaska - 0 0 1 0 0 - 1 3 1

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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