Vikings force a momentum swing to beat Blossoms

Published 8:20 pm Wednesday, May 16, 2018

HAYFIELD — The Hayfield baseball team flipped the momentum in its favor early as it went on to beat Blooming Prairie 14-4 in six innings in a showdown in Hayfield Tuesday that likely will have a strong impact on postseason seedings.

BP (9-5 overall) was trailing 2-1 in the top of the third inning when it loaded the base with no outs with the heart of the order due up. But Hayfield senior Zach Nelson didn’t flinch. He went to work.

Patrick Towey, Easton Fritcher and Zach Nelson celebrate Hayfield’s win over Blooming Prairie in Hayfield Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

Nelson forced Seth Peterson into a ground-out and he forced Brad Staska to ground into a double play to end the threat. In the bottom of the third, Nelson capped a seven-run Hayfield rally when he singled in two runs with two outs.

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“Getting out of that jam was huge. We felt like we were still in the game after that,” Nelson said. “Our offense putting up runs helps me relax on the mound and the defense played well. After a rough start to the season, our defense has gotten a lot better.”

Hayfield sophomore Kolby Tapp put the finishing touches on the win when he smacked a line drive into center field to score a pair of runs and enact the 10-run rule in the bottom of the sixth inning. Tapp went two-for-two with two stolen bases in the win.

“It felt real good and it was a dry swing,” Tapp said of his final hit. “I barely even felt it. I just heard the ping and there she went.”

The Vikings (10-6 overall) lost four of their first five games to start the season, but now they’ve won nine of their last 11. Wednesday’s win will give them the inside track on the top side of the Section 1A West Division, which holds its seeding meeting on Saturday.

Hayfield had nine hits against BP, but it reached base on a walk or a hit by pitch eight total times.

Brady Nelson makes contact for the Hayfield baseball team against Blooming Prairie in Hayfield Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

“We were patient at the plate and we worked the count,” Hayfield head coach Kasey Krekling said. “Any way you can get on base is key in high school baseball. Get on base and good things will happen.”

BP scored three runs in the top of the third to pull within 9-4 after Max Romeo, Peterson and Staska each knocked in a run, but it was too little, too late.

BP head coach Matt Kittelson said his team learns to capitalize when runners are on base.

“We’ve got to start getting hits with runners in scoring position and it’s got to come from our better hitters,” Kittelson said. “We’ve also got to throw strikes. When we’ve done those things, we’ve been successful, when we haven’t done those things, we’ve struggled.”

Payton Simon pitches for the Blooming Prairie baseball team in Hayfield Thursday. Rocky Hulne/

BP  1 0 0  0 3 0  —     4  8  2

Hayfield  2 0 7   0 0 5  -—  14  9  0

Hayfield pitching: Zach Nelson (W) 6 IP, 8 H, BB, 5 ER, 6 K, HBP

Hayfield hitting: Easton Fritcher, 0-for-4, 2 RBIs, 2 R, HBP; Patrick Towey, 2-for-3, 2 RBIs, 2 R, 2 BBs; Brady Nelson, 2-for-5, RBIs, 2 R; Kolby Tapp, 2-for-2, 3 RBIs, R, 2 SB, 2 BBs, HBP; Zach Nelson, 2-for-3, 2 RBIs, BB; Mason Tapp, 1-for-2, RBI, R, BB; Carter Kyllo, 1-for-3, 2 R, BB; Jake Risius, 1-for-2, RBI, BB, HBP, R; Logan Burt, R

Hayfield’s Mason Tapp closes in on a ground ball against Blooming Prairie in Hayfield Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/

BP pitching: Brad Staska (L) 2 2/3 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 9 ER, 2 K, HBP; Payton Simon, 3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 5 BB, 5 ER, 1 K, 2 HBP

BP hitting: Simon, 3-for-3, 2 R; Max Romeo, 3-for-3, RBI, R; Seth Peterson, 0-for-3, RBI; Staska, 1-for-2, 2 RBIs; Dylan Nirk, 0-for-3; Trent Swenson, 0-for-3; Colin Lerum, 0-for-2, BB; Ethan Arett, 1-for-3, R; Lucas Noble, 0-for-1, HBP

Max Romeo drives a single for the Blooming Prairie baseball team in Hayfield Wednesday. Rocky Hulne/