Pack-tastic: Hayfield senior offers solid start in playoff victory

Published 7:09 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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HAYFIELD – Hayfield senior Ethan Pack delivered a win on a hometown venue for the final time as he pitched four strong innings and added an RBI in the No. 6 seeded Vikings’ 4-0 win over No. 11 Houston in a Section 1A West Tournament opener in Hayfield Wednesday.

Pack, who has won two state championships in basketball, won a state championship in baseball, and served as quarterback for the Hayfield football team, scattered four hits and two walks in the win.

“Ethan’s always competed,” Hayfield head coach Kasey Krekling said of Pack. “We know he’s going to be there in the big games and he’s not going to be fazed. Through this season he’s had to learn to pitch a little. He used to be kind of a thrower, but now he’s learned to pitch in spots.”

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Hayfield (12-9 overall) will now play either No. 3 Fillmore Central or No. 14 GEAC in Riverland at noon Saturday. Pack, who is 6-1 as a pitcher this season, should also see time on the mound on Saturday and he’s ready to give it his all if he gets that chance.

“I’m going to miss this when it’s done. It’s been a fun ride,” Pack said of his time as a Viking. “Hayfield’s always been really good at baseball and in these past couple of years we showed that. Hayfield’s always been a baseball town and you see that with the community and the students.”

The Vikings finished with eight hits on Wednesday, but they never scored more than one run in an inning. Hayfield took a 1-0 lead in the first when Cole Selk knocked in and Pack drove in a run to make it 2-0 in the second.

Houston (5-12 overall) posted its biggest threat in the second inning when its first two runners reached base on Hayfield errors, but Pack was able to retire the next three hitters in order to preserve Hayfield’s 1-0 lead.

“We had some baserunning blunders and we missed signs,” Krekling said. “It was ugly, but we go the job done.”

Hayfield held nine straight opponents to five runs or under during a stretch late in the regular season, but the team went just 3-6 in those games. Krekling is hoping the bats can come alive as the Vikings look to put together another run after playing in state tournaments in 2019, 2021 and 2022. COVID-19 regulations canceled the baseball season in 2020.

“We’ve struggled to score runs, but our pitching and defense has actually gotten a lot better,” Krekling said. “At the beginning of the year, we were worried about those two things and we put a lot of time into them. It’s almost like when that got better, our hitting kind of went away.”

Hayfield sophomore Eric Bermea slammed the door on the Hurricanes after Pack’s solid start. Burmea struck out five in three no-hit innings.

“Ethan is more of a ground ball pitcher and he came in strong for us to get us started. I just wanted to hit a spot where they would make weak contact,” Bermea said. “We’re there as a team (at the plate) and our swings are there, but mentally we’re not there yet. I think we’re going to get there eventually.”

Houston 0 0 0  0 0 0  0  –  0  4  3

Hayfield 1 1 0  0 1 1  X  –  4  8  1

Hayfield pitching: Ethan Pack (W) 4 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 0 R, 2 K; Eric Bermea (S) 3 IP, 1 BB, 0 R, 5 K

Hayfield hitting: Ethan Pack, 1-for-4, RBI; Eric Bermea, 1-for-2, R, BB; Aidan Nelson, 0-for-2, RBI; Cole Selk, 1-for-2, RBI, BB; Isaac Nelson, 1-for-3; Zander Jacobson, 0-for-2, SB, HBP; Hunter Simonson, 1-for-3, R; Corbin Krueger, 2-for-3; Jack Thoe, 1-for-2, RBI, HBP, SB; Kevin Hodge, SB, R