Panthers take a step in the right direction, while Osakis plays through an emotional day

Parkers Prairie is working on trying to clean up its defense on a consistent basis after a 9-4 win on Thursday. Osakis head coach Bill Infanger was proud of the energy his guys played with on a difficult day where they said goodbye to a coach, teacher and friend.

The Panthers' Jake Wagner slides in safely to home as the throw from third base gets away from Osakis catcher Tyson Hagedon on May 13, 2021. Parkers Prairie won the game 9-4 over the Silverstreaks. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Two teams that have suffered through a lot of the same issues this spring on the diamond met up in Parkers Prairie on Thursday evening.

Osakis baseball (3-7) has felt the growing pains of having a predominantly new group to varsity this season, and Parkers Prairie had been plagued by defensive miscues through a slow start. The Panthers (4-8) played a cleaner game against the Silverstreaks and came away with a 9-4 win.

“The last few games, all of them pretty much, there’s been a lot of errors, a lot of throwing errors, stuff costing us runs,” Parkers Prairie senior Brock Peterson said. “We cleaned it up today, and we hit the ball too.”

Parkers Prairie senior Brock Peterson motions to his dugout after hitting a three-run double to make it a 4-1 Panthers' lead during their game against Osakis on May 13, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)


It was a 1-1 game when Peterson came up with two outs and the bases loaded against Osakis starter Ben Berger in the third inning. Peterson drove a ball to the center field fence to clear the bases. Cole Gesell added a run-scoring single that made it 5-1.

“It looked good, and I just said I’m going to swing at it. I swung hard,” Peterson said. “It felt pretty good. I’m just not fast enough to make it to third.”

Peterson added a fourth RBI in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly. Wyatt Murray had a couple of RBIs on a sacrifice fly and a single throughout the night, as well.

That offense was nice to see for a team that has averaged only 3.9 runs per game, but the pitching and defense was especially encouraging for the Panthers.

“We haven’t played clean at all this year,” Parkers Prairie head coach Derek Denny said. “We’ve been making physical errors, mental errors. We haven’t been able to score in bunches.”

Parkers Prairie freshman Dylan Debilzen pitches in the first inning on May 13, 2021. Debilzen threw a complete game in the 9-4 win and never gave up more than one run in an inning. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Denny liked what his freshman starting pitcher showed on the mound as Dylan Debilzen threw a complete game. Osakis got some hits on him, including a solo home run from Waylon Muenzhuber, but Debilzen never let an inning get away from him.


“He gave up the home run, and he just turned around and was ready for the ball to come back,” Denny said. “He is just a pitcher. It really gave our pitching a break. For him to come up and eat up seven innings, now we’ve got two seniors ready for tomorrow (against Menahga).”

The Panthers have worked hard on trying to clean things up defensively.

“We told them a couple games ago, I said we’re not bad baseball players but we’re playing bad baseball. That’s just true,” Denny said. “So many of these guys have grown up playing baseball, so it’s just as big a shock and mystery to me. Speaking to a couple of them, the seniors, some of them think they’re trying to do too much...The biggest thing is telling them, ‘Hey, you’re a good ballplayer. You can make those plays.’ Then in practice it’s giving them a lot of reps.“

Parkers Prairie right-fielder Micah Arens makes a running catch during the Panthers' 9-4 win over Osakis on May 13, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Murray has logged a lot of innings on the mound this year, and Denny said he has pitched well enough to win some more games. Peterson and Brendan Johnson give the Panthers three seniors they lean on as veteran pitchers.

The Panthers lost a close 3-2 game against a 7-4 Sebeka team on May 11. With back-to-back good games now, they hope to build momentum and finish off the season strong.

“Just trying to clean up that infield a little bit. Take care of the ball,” Peterson said. “We’ve had a lot of games where we’ve had four or more errors. That kills you. Bad inning and all of a sudden you’re down five runs and nobody is in a good mood when you get back in the dugout. Keep it clean, and if we can score a few runs, we should be in every game.”


Winning by showing up

Osakis head coach Bill Infanger told his players at the end of its post-game huddle in right field that there are certain days where you win by showing up.

Thursday was one of those days for the Silverstreaks.

The 4:30 p.m. first pitch in Parkers Prairie took place just hours after these players were part of a big group that gathered outside at the Osakis football field for the memorial service of coach and teacher Kyle Imdieke. Imdieke died unexpectedly on May 6 at the age of 45.

Imdieke was Infanger’s assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in football. Much more than that, he was a close friend. That’s why being on a baseball field later in the same day that they said goodbye to Imdieke was bittersweet.

“It’s tough to show up and focus on something as trivial as a baseball game on a day like today when you’ve had such an important and difficult event like coach Imdieke’s funeral earlier in the day,” Infanger said. “At the same time, it’s nice to get together as a team and play a game you love, which coach Imdieke would have definitely approved of. I was proud of the guys for showing up today and having a good attitude in the dugout.”


Osakis catcher Tyson Hagedon (right) takes a deep breath after diving to make a catch on a shallow pop up as teammate Kyle Mages waits for him near the dugout in Parkers Prairie on May 13, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

The Silverstreaks played with energy throughout the night. Muenzhuber and Mekai Hoelscher had back-to-back doubles with two outs in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. Tyler Baumgarter had an RBI single in the fourth, and Muenzhuber’s home run went to deep center field in the fifth inning to make it an 8-3 game.

Muenzhuber is one of the lone players for Osakis with any kind of varsity experience. He’s been living up to his role as a leader for this group.

“He’s been a part of some really good teams where he was the young guy on the team,” Infanger said. “Now that’s all been flipped on him from his sophomore year to his senior year. He’s the veteran and the guy we expect to have the great at-bats and make plays for us. He’s doing it in the batter’s box especially. He’s got a couple home runs now. He’s getting a lot of doubles and really barreling the ball up. It’s fun to see him be the leader we expect him to be.”

Tyson Hagedon (1) and Mekai Hoelscher (10) congratulated Waylon Muenzhuber after Muenzhuber's solo home run in the fifth inning at Parkers Prairie on May 13, 2021. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

Overall, the Silverstreaks are still in need of gaining experience. There were multiple errors on one play in the fourth inning where the Panthers’ Florian Koep hit a ground ball to third. The ball came home and got away from the catcher trying to get the force out.

Two more times the ball got away on throws as two Parkers Prairie runs scored. Another almost scored before the runner was called out on a play at the plate.


There were also some miscues on the base paths. Debilzen was a lefthander on the mound for the Panthers, and he caught Osakis runners off guard with his pickoff move to first a couple times. These are all things the Silverstreaks will continue to work on by getting more game experience in the second half of the season.

Osakis right-fielder Blake Rousslang makes a running catch during the May 13, 2021 game in Parkers Prairie. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)

“Those are things you go through as a young team,” Infanger said. “When you get in a hurry, mistakes happen. You don’t practice a situation like that (at the plate) a lot, but then the ball starts going back and forth over home plate and the runners keep coming. That’s something where the guys need to settle down and know we’re capable of making that throw in a hurry. We’ve done it 100 times in practice before, but you have to have that experience sometimes.”

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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