Near perfect pitching
Osakis’ Lane Berberich said he couldn’t remember ever throwing a no-hitter before. Maybe in little league, but for sure never at the varsity level.
He won’t have any problem remembering this one after tossing a seven-inning gem in a 5-2 win over Brandon-Evansville on Tuesday night. The conditions weren’t conducive for baseball with temperatures hovering near 30 degrees.
The senior righty blocked that out and held the Chargers hitless, giving up just two unearned runs after errors to start the fourth and seventh innings came around to score. He struck out four and walked five, but only once did any of those walks come in the same inning.
“I don’t really know,” Berberich said of what was working so well for him. “It was a small strike zone, but I was just throwing strikes. I only threw a fastball and a curveball, so I don’t know what it was.”
Berberich said he felt the best he has felt all season on the mound despite the frigid conditions. The Chargers’ best chance at a base hit off him came in the seventh inning when they hit a shallow fly ball that fell to the ground in right-center field. The runner at first was forced to see if the ball would drop and was thrown out at second on the play for what is ruled as a fielder’s choice.
Berberich threw some close pitches that were called balls in the next two at-bats. He issued back-to-back walks to load the bases but settled down after that, getting the Chargers’ Kevin Campbell to hit a sacrifice fly to right field. He then ended it by inducing a ground ball to Drew Fearing at short that Fearing flipped to second for the final out.
“It was pretty awesome,” Fearing said. “I’m pretty proud of Lane. He pitched a [heck] of a game, and I didn’t want to screw it up. I’m glad I fielded it.”
Berberich will be asked to move into a more prominent role for this team’s pitching staff this year, and he hasn’t disappointed through three appearances. He had a 1.65 ERA in 17 innings as a junior, but Osakis could rely a lot on Jordan Frederick and Ky Zimmel last season, while keeping Berberich anchored at second.
Head coach Shad Schmidt said he felt this rotation could be three to five guys deep this season even with the loss of Zimmel. Guys like Berberich would have to step into those second and third spots behind Frederick.
So far they have done that, allowing just one earned run through three games. Berberich has led the way with 13 strikeouts, a 0.58 ERA and just four hits allowed in 12 innings of work after Tuesday night. The quality pitching early doesn’t surprise anyone on this team, even if it does some outside observers.
“I think me and Lane are very good pitchers,” Fearing said. “Ky is pretty much unreplaceable. He’s a great pitcher too, but I think our pitching is going to give us a chance to win, and I think our bats will do the job and our defense will do well too.”
Schmidt’s message to his team after the game is that things have to get better offensively if this team is going to compete against some of the better Class AA competition it will see later on. Osakis had just five hits against sophomore Robbie Juul from Brandon-Evansville.
Through four games, four seniors in Berberich (.429), Fearing (.455), Frederick (.333) and Hunter Scherr (.556) are all hitting above .300. The rest of the lineup is batting .273 or lower. Getting more consistent at-bats from up and down the lineup is something this group wants to work on.
“I told the guys after the game that I realize it’s cold and we’ll give them a little bit of a pass because of the cold,” Schmidt said. “But I thought we gave some at-bats away. We left too many runners on base. I don’t like how we adjust during at-bats. I thought we had some good swings early in at-bats and then late, I thought we gave up our at-bats a little bit.”
It’s a team that still has lofty expectations despite the jump to the AA level. Section 6AA is loaded with Class AAA defending champion Rocori now moving down a class and St. Cloud Cathedral as a couple of the headliners. Both Rocori (10th) and Cathedral (2nd) were ranked in the top 10 of the initial Let’s Play Baseball preseason polls.
Osakis is a team that prides itself on playing clean, smart baseball. The Silverstreaks know they will be one of the smallest schools in the section this spring, but it’s a confident group that is excited about the opportunity to show that they can still play at this level.
“I don’t expect us to lose many games in the regular season,” Berberich said. “We’ll go into playoffs and do the best we can and hopefully we’ll keep it going from there. I do [feel like we have something to prove]. I feel like teams are probably [overlooking] us, and I want to go out there and make some noise.”
OSAKIS 201 000 2 – 5 5 2
B-E 000 100 1 – 2 0 5
PITCHING – Osakis – Berberich – W, 7IP, 0H, 2R, 0ER, 5BB, 4SO; B-E – Juul – L, 7IP, 5H, 5R, 0ER, 2BB, 2 HBP, 4SO
OFFENSE – Osakis – Berberich – 1B, 2 BB, 2 runs, 2 SB; Michael Herringshaw – 1B, 1 run, SB; Fearing – 1B, RBI, 2 runs, 2 SB; Frederick – 2 RBI, SB; Brandon Giesler – 1B, RBI, SB; Cody DeWenter – 1B, SB; Scherr – SB
B-E – Pattrick McGaffey – 1 run; Kevin Roers – 1 run; Campbell – Sac fly, RBI; Zach Johnson – Sac, RBI