HCHS baseball team avenges Monarchs by the rule

 HARLAN (June 15) -- Revenge is a dish best served in five.
 Twelve days after issuing 14 walks in an ugly 8-5 loss at Denison-Schleswig, the Harlan Community baseball team needed just five innings to avenge the Monarchs, 12-2, at Jim Goeser Field Tuesday night.
 Finishing things off with six runs in the bottom of the fifth, the Cyclones played one of their best all-around games of the year and snapped a three-game conference losing streak.
 Sophomore Teagon Kasperbauer pitched five solid innings for the win while Quinn Koesters and Joey Moser combined for seven hits and six runs scored at the top of the lineup.
 HCHS tallied 12 hits as a team, improving to 5-8 overall and 4-6 in the Hawkeye Ten. Denison, which managed just three singles off Kasperbauer, slipped to 9-5 overall and 8-3 in league play.
 Kasperbauer (3-1) continued his success on the mound by simply throwing strikes and hitting his spots. He issued one walk, hit one batter and struck out three, allowing one earned run.
 “It all starts on the mound,” said HCHS head coach Heath Stein. “Teagon set the tone. He pounded the zone, got early contact and was very efficient. I was kind of surprised he was at 83 [pitches]... He’s been working. It was nice to call some curveballs for him. He’s finding a little feel for that pitch.”
 The Cyclones led 3-1 after three innings, then really began pulling away in the fourth and fifth with nine runs on eight hits. They were plagued by a high number of fly balls and pop-ups early, but did a batter job of hitting the top half of the baseball late.
 “Up and down the lineup we put together some pretty good at-bats - trying to avoid lifting the ball so much,” Stein said. “After we talked in the third inning a little bit, we shortened up swings, got on top and hit a lot of line drives.
 “We’re working on approach. We’ve been working on the mental aspect of trying to figure out who we are and a lot of guys are buying in and working every day, so it was a lot of fun tonight.”
 Koesters, the Cyclones’ freshman third baseman, recently moved up to the two-hole in the batting order and has now hit safely in seven of the last eight games. He finished 4-for-4 with three runs scored and two stolen bases on Tuesday, starting his night with a bunt single and sending two of his three other hits to right field.
 “Quinn’s working hard. He’s got a good approach,” Stein said. “He’s really working at using the middle of the field.”
 Moser, the leadoff man, opened the Cyclone first inning with a double and later added two RBI singles, finishing 3-for-4 with three runs scored. Senior Isaiah Ahrenholtz singled and drove in three runs on the night while Luke Musich, Alex Monson, Kasperbauer and Kelby Lasher added one hit apiece. Lasher and courtesy runner Brehden Eggerss both scored two runs.
 Denison starter Hunter Emery (1-2) surrendered seven hits and six runs in four innings, but only two of the runs were earned. The Cyclones got to relievers Caden Fletcher and Parker Bekkerus for six runs on five hits in the fifth, also aided by three walks and a hit batsman in the inning.
 Lasher, Moser, Koesters and Monson all had RBI hits in the fifth before the game ended on a bases-loaded walk to Kasperbauer.
 Defensively, Cyclone catcher Austin Schumacher threw out Evan Turin attempting to steal a base in the top of the first. One inning later, the Cyclones turned a 5-4-3 double play one batter after committing their only error.
 Bekkerus, who was 1-for-1, scored both Monarch runs and Luke Wiebers had both RBI on a sac fly and a single.
 HCHS finished the week with a home game against Kuemper on Thursday night and will return to action Monday for a home varsity doubleheader vs. Red Oak.
 Despite a slow start to the season which includes a pair of three-game losing streaks, Stein says that the players have maintained a positive attitude overall and continue to work hard in hopes of playing their best baseball in July.
 “All we’re talking about is [that] records don’t matter too much as you go on,” he said. “Yes, you want to work to win ball games, but we just want to work to get better and see where we’re at at the end.”

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