The Carlos Cougars baseball team stuck right with one of the best teams in the Resorters League through seven innings on Sunday afternoon.
The Osakis Hawks (2-0) broke out with five runs in the top of the eighth inning in a 10-3 win for the Hawks, but the way the Cougars played through much of the game is what player/manager Clarke Comer believes this team is capable of this summer.
“The depth is a huge plus for us compared to last year,” Comer said. “We added two pitchers, so that will be huge. We subtracted a different pitcher, and we lost a lockdown center fielder. We lost our catcher, so up the middle we’re trying to figure things out. But this is a group of guys who played together, and I think it should be a fun year.”
Much of the Cougars’ roster is made up of players from Alexandria. Kyle Schaible started on the mound on Sunday and gave Carlos five good innings. He left with his team within one run at 3-2 after allowing three unearned runs. Those came in the third inning when an error at short allowed two runs to score, and a wild pitch brought in another run with two outs.
“There were a few errors, but that’s amateur baseball,” Comer said. “Last year, it was a lot of throwing errors, which was irritating. This year, we’re keeping the ball in front of ourselves. Now it’s just figuring out who fits together and the pieces in the lineup.”
Carlos got an RBI single from Alexandria’s Bryce Ludwig in the bottom of the fifth to make it a one-run game. Osakis extended things from there, getting a run in the sixth and opening up a 9-2 lead in the eighth with five more. Alexandria’s Blake Radtke drove in a run for the Cougars in their half of the eighth with an RBI ground out, but it was too little, too late.
“Seems like it’s kind of a carryover from last year where that one inning just derails you,” Comer said. “We got a lot more batting practice in, which was fun to see some guys really took advantage of that. But we just need more consistent at-bats. It’s awesome when we get a couple guys scraping it around, but it takes a whole lineup 1-9.”
The Cougars have a full July schedule during this shortened summer season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barring changes, they are scheduled to be in Urbank to play the Bombers on July 10 at 7:30 p.m. before home games against Sauk Centre (July 11, 7 p.m.), Long Prairie (July 12, 4 p.m.), Kensington (July 24, 7 p.m.) and Alexandria (July 26, 4 p.m.).
“I told them this year is our chance,” Comer said of his goals for this team. “We finally have a little depth. We have some pitching if it shows up. We get a ton of home games because not a lot of teams can play (on their home field). We’re very fortunate about that, and the guys have stepped up to help out around the field (after games). That was one of my biggest pet peeves last year is guys showed up, threw the ball all over the park and left. This year, to see that change, you can tell they’re here to play baseball.”
The region tournament will run over the course of three weekends in August as teams vie for a state tournament appearance. The Cougars believe they can compete up near the top of the league if the pieces fall into place.
“If we can get our pitching and our lineup figured out, I think we can be one of the top teams,” Comer said. “I have high hopes for this season.”