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Miscues haunt Woodbury Area legion squad

Sam Horner slides in safely during a Woodbury Area game against St. Paul Park last Sunday at Park High School. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)

Woodbury Area notched 10 hits in one of two battles with West St. Paul last Wednesday.

Eight of those belonged to the tandem of Sam Horner and Matt Palkovich.

That duo combined to go 9-for-10 at the dish with a walk, four runs scored and five RBI as Woodbury Area cruised to a 12-6 win.

That type of production at the top of the order has become a staple for Woodbury Area. It was strong again last Sunday, but the bottom of the order failed to back up the first few batters, a recent trend coach Brian Palkovich has noticed. Woodbury’s bottom four batters have combined to go 3-for-48 over the past four games.

“The first four guys got a lot of hits and the runs came in and then the bottom of the order struggled,” he said. “The last two or three games you’ve been able to count on the first four or five hitters, and after that you take your chances.”

Woodbury Area dropped the second game with West St. Paul 13-3.

Thomas Becken led Woodbury’s bats as he accrued two hits.

Woodbury Area hurt itself on the defensive side, where it committed five errors.

Those same type of miscues likely cost Woodbury Area two wins last Sunday as well.

Woodbury Area lost two one-run games to St. Paul Park -- the first by a 7-6 final, the second 8-7.

“You take away even half of those errors and we win both games,” Brian Palkovich said.

Sam Horner was once again a dominating figure at the plate, particularly in the second game when he went 3-for-4 with a double.

“I think what he does is he can see the ball coming in,” Brian Palkovich said. “He looks for his pitch and he hits it. He doesn’t wait for it. If it’s the first pitch or if it’s the fifth pitch of an at-bat, if it’s at a location, he sees it and he’s been able to zero in on it for months now.”

But Horner wasn’t able to have that same type of success on the mound. He struggled to find the strike zone and walked three batters in the second frame. That, along with a few costly errors, led to a six-run second inning by St. Paul Park that Woodbury Area couldn’t recover from.

“Sam started the game and didn’t have his stuff,” Brian Palkovich said. “There were a couple of errors early and then Sam just lost the location.”

Matt Palkovich came on in relief of Horner with the bases loaded in the second, and not only did he get out of that situation, but he only allowed one run in the final five innings to give Woodbury Area a shot at a comeback that fell just short.

“He shut them down,” Brian Palkovich said. “That really helps a lot. It’s really impressive for him to be able to stick through the rest of the game and really after that I didn’t worry about them getting too many runs.”

Still, the early hole proved too deep, and Woodbury Area’s mistakes proved too costly.

But Brian Palkovich said he knows his squad will be fine moving forward if it’s able to cut down on the defensive miscues.

“We’ve just got to stop making the mistakes and we should be solid,” he said.