A talented group of Osakis players who missed out on their last year of varsity baseball had all but made peace with the fact that they wouldn’t play together again after the COVID-19 pandemic canceled their season in late April.
Some of those kids have played amateur ball this summer with the Osakis Hawks, but the exact group that was expected to contend in Section 6AA this past spring hadn’t been together since last July in Legion ball. On Wednesday night, a game against Alexandria that was put together last week gave them an opportunity to be back on the field one last time.
“It was really for our seniors,” Osakis’ Shad Schmidt said. “It was an opportunity for this team to play one more time. Personally, for me, it was another opportunity for me to coach.”
Schmidt resigned as Osakis’ varsity head coach this offseason, but he wanted one last chance to put together a lineup with these players. He and Alexandria 19U coach Steve Radtke organized a game for Wednesday in Osakis as fans came out in a big show of support by lining the outside fences down both baselines.
“I was surprised. I think they just wanted to get outside and watch some sports,” Schmidt said. “It’s nice of them to support all of the Osakis activities, and it was nice of them to come out and support these boys. It was a good time, good atmosphere.”
Both teams gave fans an entertaining game that ended in an 8-7 win for Alexandria in extra innings. This group of Alexandria players consists of recently-graduated seniors and members of the 2019 graduating class. They have been playing together throughout the month of July and have put together a 9-1 record now.
“I think almost everybody is playing college baseball, so it’s just a chance to get at-bats, practice, get on the field,” Alexandria’s Matthew Carlsen said. “It’s a lot different though. You always thought your senior year you would be on top of the spectrum, but now we have pretty much the same team as last year. It’s different, but I’m glad we got to play.”
Carlsen got the game-winning hit in the top of the eighth inning. Carter Stockert reached on an error to start the frame before a sacrifice bunt from Jack Allen.
Carlsen worked the count to 2-0 against Osakis’ Hunter Infanger. The lefty turned on the next pitch he saw and found the gap in right-center field to bring Stockert home.
“Before the pitch, I just thought I’m going to try to hit this one hard, hit it far,” Carlsen said. “I put a swing on it, and it worked out.”
Alexandria built a 7-2 lead early on, aided by a five-run fourth inning. Carlsen had an RBI single that inning, and Taylor Jendro and Luke Levasseur both drove in two runs with singles.
Osakis chipped away with a little help from some Alexandria miscues. An error and a wild pitch in the bottom of the fifth inning scored two Osakis runs around an RBI hit from Waylon Muenzhuber that helped make it 7-5. Another wild pitch scored a run in the bottom of the sixth before an error with two outs scored Mason Moore to make it a 7-7 game.
Down one again in the bottom of the eighth, Osakis threatened. Carter Rost led off with a walk, and Luke Staloch laced a hard-hit ball up the middle. Alexandria shortstop Isaac Peterson lunged to catch the ball to his left and then threw out Rost for a momentum-shifting double play.
Riley Nelson threw four-plus innings for Alexandria and left with a lead, but did not factor in the decision. Levasseur was credited with the win after working the final 2 1/3 innings.
Rost started for Osakis and showed again that he can pitch against any lineup in the area. He went the first three innings, allowing just one run and three singles, while striking out five.
“That is what we expect out of Carter,” Schmidt said. “It would have been nice to see what he would have done against our schedule in the high school season. He’s always played up as a younger guy, and he’s always proved he can do it. It was fun to see him do it again.”
Schmidt was grateful for Alexandria’s willingness to come to Osakis and give his players one last chance to play together.
“Since we set this game up last week, I’ve thought about it every single day,” Schmidt said. “It’s kind of silly because I knew it was just for fun. It was nice to play a very talented Alexandria team. It was fun having that coaching mentality again.”
He was proud of the way his guys played against a talented and older group of players. It wasn’t a win, but this night was not about winning on the scoreboard for Osakis.
“I was happy with the way our pitchers performed,” Schmidt said. “Our defense was pretty good for the most part, with the exception of a couple errors that cost us. They had really good at-bats. This year’s juniors haven’t played any baseball at all. Then you have a kid like Drew Imdieke who’s 14 years old having quality at-bats against college pitchers. It was just a great experience all the way around for the kids and the community.”