During a six-game regular season, the Resorters League baseball teams had little time to prepare for the postseason. However, the Osakis Hawks are peaking at the right time as the League's top team.
On Saturday afternoon, the Hawks (5-1) beat the Alexandria Black Sox (3-2) 12-1 in eight innings. Carter Rost pitched six scoreless innings in Osakis' regular-season finale.
"He's such a good pitcher," player-manager Doug Zimmel said. "Between him and Ky (Zimmel), we feel like we can get a lot of guys out right now. We didn't have our full squad here today, but we have more guys that can come in and throw a couple of innings. Carter was great today."
The Hawks got the bats rolling right away in the first inning. Lane Berberich belted a ball over the left-field fence to break the scoreless tie. The Hawks were threatening again in the third inning with runners on second and third, but Black Sox starter Carter Stockert got out of the jam.
Osakis took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. Luke Imdieke scored on a wild pitch before Hunter Infanger tallied an RBI single. Alexandria had a chance to get some runs back in the top of the fifth inning with Matthew Carlsen on third, but Rost got out of the jam to keep the Black Sox off the scoreboard.
Stockert's day on the mound ended after five innings when Carlsen came in relief. Carlsen pitched multiple shutout innings, giving their team a chance to fight back.
"Alexandria had three games this weekend, so they had to do some shuffling with their pitchers," Zimmel said. "They have some really good arms over there. It's good for us to see this kind of pitching, especially two left-handers heading into the playoffs."
The Hawks broke the game open in the bottom of the seventh with a five-run inning. Colter Fortenberry scored on a wild pitch before Rost drove in Infanger with an infield single. Rost later scored on a fielder's choice after Ky Zimmel drove in two runs with a line-drive single.
Alexandria player-coach Mitch Thompson crossed home plate in the top of the eighth inning for the Black Sox's lone run. However, the Hawks clapped back.
Rost ended the game the same way it started for Osakis. He launched the ball over the left-field fence for the 11th and 12th runs of the afternoon. Osakis took home the win via the 10-run rule. Despite the loss, Thompson appreciates the games against the Hawks.
"I love playing against these guys," he said. "I've been playing with and against them since I was really young. It's super good competition, so there's not much else I can ask for out of these games."
Back in black
Saturday might not have been the ideal outcome for the Black Sox, but they've put together a productive summer in the shortened season. At three wins, they are near the top of the Resorters League standings and are looking to make some noise when the postseason rolls around this weekend.
While Saturday's game ended in eight innings, the score was much closer in the first seven. Alexandria's reliable pitching staff held Osakis' lethal batting order at bay.
"It's a tough year with scheduling and getting guys with all of the COVID-19 stuff," Thompson said. "We had to scramble to get a bunch of games together at the last second. We are trying to get pitchers some work out there. We have a lot of arms on this team, and they usually get more run support. But we'll take all the arms we can get."
Thompson is glad to have the team back in the dugout this summer after so much uncertainty. While the Black Sox are having some success on the field, this summer is about having fun and getting back outside.
"It's good to get out of the house a little bit and hang out with the boys," Thompson said. "I think we are feeling pretty good. If we are on, we can be really good. I think the strength of this team is our toughness. We can really bear down and get to work. We know we're going to have to beat (Osakis) in the playoffs at some point, but we'll see what we can do."