Nine-run first inning propels Hazen

BEULAH – Don’t let their record fool you.

At 13-14, the Hazen Astros may seem less than qualified on paper for the Class B state tournament. But the nine-run first inning they planted on the Makoti Mavericks on Wednesday at Goldmann Field proves otherwise.

Hazen put a licking on Makoti pitcher Chandler Karna during a 13-1, five-inning rout and advanced to the second round of the double-elimination competition.

Astros pitcher Karson Hintz recorded the win and went 1 for 1 with a double, three runs scored and two walks. He said the 10-run rule win confirms his confidence.

“We struggled quite a bit all year – I don’t think we even have a winning record – but we know we’re a good team,” Hintz said. “We’ve had this same team and been to Babe Ruth (state) tournaments three times so we knew what it takes. We just had to play better baseball to get here.”

The Astros held Makoti scoreless in the top of the first and then plated nine runs on four hits, three walks and five errors in the bottom of the frame.

After trailing early in many games this year, owning a nine-run lead after an inning delighted Hazen coach Scott Leintz.

“I didn’t (expect it),” Leintz said. “That’s kind of the other teams’ thing against us all year. It was nice. (Batters) 1 through 9, everybody got the ball in play.”

Left fielder Connor Doll singled twice, scored twice and drove in two runs in the first inning alone. Shortstop Nate Leintz added a single, two RBIs and one run scored, while Hintz walked and doubled for an RBI and two runs in the frame.

“That was nice to get out early and get some run support for (Hintz),” Scott Leintz said. “He just had to go out there and throw strikes.”

Hintz struggled with his control on the mound, dealing seven walks, but found a way to wriggle out of each inning and hold Makoti scoreless. He allowed three hits and had one strikeout over four innings.

“I felt comfortable one inning and then the next inning not so much,” Hintz said. “I know I had a lot of walks, but the defense was playing well behind me so I wasn’t worrying about it as much.”

RBI hits from Doll, third baseman Connor Hill and second baseman Tyler Borlaug allowed Hazen to add four more runs in the fourth. The Astros’ 13th and final run chased Karna, who allowed 10 earned runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out three. Aaron Schenfisch came on to record the final out for Makoti.

The Mavericks tallied a run in the fifth off Doll, who relieved Hintz.

After a Karna double to open the inning, first baseman Lucas Wollschlager singled to score Karna. Doll induced a flyout from third baseman Brendin Langan before Schenfisch hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game.

Hintz said Hazen will aim for a similar start today.

“We don’t know who we play yet, but we’re going to just keep this momentum going,” he said. “If we can get out and jump on them in the first inning again, that will be a first plus for us.”

Ryan Holmgren covers Legion baseball and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgrenMDN.