MINNEAPOLIS – Senior Nic Voelker would not be denied. In his first start of the season, he was simply on a mission. The senior tossed seven shutout innings as Mayer Lutheran knocked off No. 8 Heritage Christian 1-0 at US Bank Stadium Friday night. Although nervous to start the game, Voelker was calm and confident throughout leading the Crusaders to the upset win.
“I was a little nervous,” Voelker said about his mindset coming in. “It was my first start of the year. It went pretty well so say the least.”
It wasn’t an easy one to finish for Voelker though. After recording the first two outs in the top of the seventh, Voelker allowed a two-out double, and the Eagles were still alive. Following the two-out double, Voelker walked the ensuing batter, and the Eagles had something cooking with runners on first and second with two out. With Voelker and the Crusaders just one out away from knocking off the Eagles, Voelker plunked the next batter, loading the bases for the Eagles.
Voelker, who pitches for the New Germany Dutchmen amateur baseball team in the Crow River Valley League in the summer, and is familiar with tough situations and playing against tough competition, focused in on the batter with the bases loaded and two outs.
“It definitely helps as far as hitting goes,” Voelker said about the benefits of playing amateur baseball in the summer. “This guy (Seth Halvorsen) threw a heck of a game. A lot like the other guys we face in the summer.
With a 2-1 count, Voelker got Zach Richards to hit a groundball to third baseman Matthew Menth. Menth then raced to the bag at third to beat the runner, but the runner was safe, but he slid past the bag as Menth was able to take him out with the ball, ending the game in dramatic fashion. Heritage Christian’s coach Jon Ledeboer pleaded his case to the umpires, but to no avail as the call stood.
Voelker finished off his shutout allowing zero runs off four hits, and despite his team collecting just one hit.
“I was just really excited to play at US Bank to be honest,” Voelker said. “I’m not a huge fan of the turf field, but a very cool experience.”
Two of the four hits allowed by Voelker came in the top of the second, and it looked as if the eighth-ranked Eagles were ready to make a run. Junior catcher Branden Carlson had other ideas. After the leadoff batter reached on a single, Carlson gunned down the runner trying to swipe second for the first out of the inning. The Eagles responded with another base hit to put a runner with just one out. With runs looking like they would come at a premium, the Eagles were once again aggressive on the base paths, and Carlson once again delivered a perfect strike to throw out his second batter attempting to steal to a base.
Alex Baumann had the lone hit of the game for the Crusaders in the win. He also had the key at-bat that helped them push across the lone run of the game. Brock Hoese drew a one-out walk to give the Crusaders just their third base runner of the game. Hoese then moved up to second on a balk by Halvorsen. With one out and Hoese on second, Baumann hit a slow rolling ground ball to the second baseman, and an errant throw to first allowed Hoese to come in and score which proved to be the winning run.
Look for a full photo gallery on the Herald Journal website Monday, April 24.
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