Harpenau fans career-best 17 as No. 2 RSM tops Hinton
REMSEN — In a normal year, being in midseason form by June 17 would be the expectation. In 2020, that date marked the first start for Blaine Harpenau in just the second game of the season for Remsen St. Mary’s. Despite being just his first start of the season, Harpenau appeared to be in top form as he struck out a career-high 17 Hinton batters as the Hawks won 6-2.
“It was nice to get back on the mound,” Harpenau said. “Normally we have a few spring games to get under our belt to know what’s working and get all the pitches and get a good feel for them, but today I came out, haven’t thrown any against other teams, so it was nice to get on the mound finally and get to work.”
RSM Head Coach Dean Harpenau said that the way the season is condensed, his players will have to be in mid-season form right away, even though the season has just started.
“It’s hard to play your best baseball right away,” Coach Harpenau said. “Usually my theory is I’d rather just roll into it and play your baseball at the end, but this year it’s so fast, you need to roll in and play right away. That could be hard on teams and that’s why I think we’re seeing scores that are a little bit higher because two weeks of practice, some kids probably didn’t even pick up a ball, and so they’re not at midseason form.”
It was an early season matchup between a pair of 1A contenders with RSM ranked No. 2 and Hinton entering the game receiving votes. The game’s winner now has an early jump on the War Eagle Conference race.
Harpenau struck out the side in the top of the first and the Hawks then spotted their ace a three run lead in the bottom of the inning. Hinton starter Tate Linton walked and hit a batter in the first and a pair of errors in the field led to the three runs coming across. RSM added two more in the second as they got out to a 5-0 lead.
“That’s what we needed to do, we needed to jump on them early,” Harpenau said. “Once you get three runs in the first inning, that’s just demoralizing for the other team, so once we came out and got three runs I felt good about our chances. We added two more in the second and we just stayed aggressive all night and that’s what we needed to do.”
That cushion was more than enough for Harpenau who worked a complete game, giving up one earned run on two hits. He hit his pitch count limit on his final batter, but was able to finish the complete game win by striking out the side in the seventh with the last punch out surpassing a 16 K outing against Trinity Christian last season for his most strikeouts in a game.
While his team struck out 17 times in the game, Hinton Head Coach Cale Kramer liked the fight his players showed as they scratched across lone runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
“He’s effective with all his pitches and we’re inexperienced,” Kramer said. “If you take our starters and combine their total at-bats varsity-wise, there aren’t very many. But, I’m thrilled with the way they grew throughout the game. They never quit. I’m happy with our guys. I mean we don’t want to lose, but they showed growth during this game and I’m impressed. We could have easily rolled over.”
Easton Stusse singled to lead off the fifth and his runner Dylan DeVries scored on a hit by Gavin Nelson. The other run came in the sixth as Linton hit a two-out triple and came home on a ball put in play by Tate Kounkel.
Spencer Schorg led the RSM offense by reaching on a hit and two walks out of the leadoff spot while coming around to score three times. Jaxon Bunkers ended with 2 RBI, getting the final run for the Hawks on a sacrifice fly in the sixth, while Harpenau and Brayden Ricke each drove in one.
The win moved RSM to 2-0 while Hinton fell to 1-1.
Hinton: Hits- 2; Walks- None; 2B- None; 3B- Linton; HR- None; RBI- Kounkel, Nelson; Pitching: Tate Linton (L)- 2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K; Glen Carlson- 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks.
RSM: Hits- 6; Walks- 3; 2B- None; 3B- None; HR- None; RBI- Bunkers 2, Harpenau 1, Ricke 1. Pitching: Blaine Harpenau (W)- 7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 17 Ks.