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Baseball: Solid baserunning helps Minnewaska beat Osakis 10-5

Early offense leads Minnewaska to a 10-5 win over Osakis.

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Minnewaska's Torii Johnson rounds first base after a hit in a game against Osakis on May 6, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

OSAKIS - The Minnewaska baseball team earned a win over the Osakis Silverstreaks on Friday in large part because of good baserunning.

“That's our team,” Minnewaska head coach Joe Alexander said. “Our team is built on our baserunning and our speed. We capitalize on it. We try and use those often with stealing bases and putting guys in motion. That seems to be when our team plays its best.”

Minnewaska had nine stolen bases against Osakis in a 10-5 win.

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Minnewaska's Jack Larson (right) successfully steals second base in a game against Osakis on May 6, 2022. Minnewaska had nine steals in a 10-5 win.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Senior Jacob Blair led the Lakers with three stolen bases.

“We're a very fast team,” senior Torii Johnson said. “We don't have too much power. We just get base hits and keep guys going around the bases.”

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Their speed has helped them get off to a 7-1 start this season. Alexander said he sees good baserunning habits, along with good defensive and pitching habits, on a day-to-day basis in practice.

Minnewaska’s one loss came on Thursday to Sauk Centre, 3-2. Minnewaska responded swiftly by putting up 10 runs on Osakis (2-5).

“The kids have been struggling a little bit at the plate, with the cold weather and some good competition,” Alexander said. “It’s always nice when you come out and take a little pressure off your pitchers by adding a lot of runs early and holding on at the end. With nice weather, usually, the bats come alive.”

The bats came alive early for the Lakers as they scored one run in the first inning, three in the second and five in the fourth.

“I think we just focused more with every at-bat,” Johnson said.

As the game went on, Minnewaska’s bats started to cool down while Osakis’ heated up.

“Our guys were finally putting the bat on the ball,” Osakis head coach Kendell Proell said. “We had a little more confidence at the plate, but there were still some situations on the base that we probably could have taken advantage of a little better. We just made some mental mistakes.”

Osakis clawed to within five by scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

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“They're methodical and they do all the little things right,” Proell said about Minnewaska. “They steal bases nicely, they back up all their throws and they’re well-coached. The way they do the little things, that's what makes them tough [to beat].”

Proell said they put together a solid three innings but not a complete game.

“We've been preaching about putting a full seven together,” Proell said. “It was good to see three innings with good baserunning and getting the bat on the ball. It wasn’t quite a full seven innings, which we've been striving for.”

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Osakis' Ben Berger swings for the fences in a game on May 6, 2022 against Minnewaska.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

Proell said the struggle the team is having so far this season is generating offense.

“For the most part, we just struggle getting hits and getting timely hits with guys on base,” Proell said.

The start to the baseball season had been consistently delayed throughout most of April, but for the last couple of weeks, things have been better outside and both coaches whether thankful to be able to play baseball on a nice day.

“It's just fun to be outside again,” Alexander said. “With the weather, two good baseball teams, two rich programs history-wise, it's just fun being out here again after the long last few years we've all faced.”

Johnson earned the win on the mound for the Lakers on Friday. He pitched six innings, allowed six hits, four runs and struck out five batters.

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“He's one of our senior leaders and we expect big things out of him every time he comes out,” Alexander said. “He keeps us in the ball game, he pitches to contact and he is not going to walk a lot of guys. So if we're ready to go and hit the ball, he's going to keep us in every game.”

Sophomore Alex Panitzke pitched the final inning for the Lakers. He struck out one and allowed one run off of two hits.

Alexander expects his defense to deliver a solid performance night in and night.

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Minnewaska catcher Paul Johnson reaches back to tag our Osakis' Chayce Meyer in a game on May 6, 2022.
Sam Stuve / Alexandria Echo Press

“Our pitching keeps us in a lot of ballgames and if our defense holds up, we're a pretty solid team,” Alexander said. “Our defense was exceptional (on Friday). We have a lot of young kids playing some positions. We've got some injuries and we’re a little beat up, but they all stepped up. Ryland Martin came up and played exceptionally well at third base in the second half of the game and everybody's playing really well.”

Proell also believes that his team’s defense can deliver every game.

“Our defense is pretty consistent,” Proell said. “The defense that we're putting out there does make plays.”

Sophomore Kyle Mages got the start on the mound for the Silverstreaks on Friday.

Mages pitched 3.2 innings, struck out four batters but allowed seven earned runs on four hits. Sophomore Grant Mages pitched the final 3.1 innings and he allowed one earned run on three hits and struck out two batters.

Osakis had eight hits on the day, while Minnewaska had seven. Osakis had seven stolen bases on Friday. Senior first baseman Brady Mages and senior shortstop Bauer Klimek each had two hits for Osakis. Brady Mages led Osakis in RBIs with two.

Junior Jack Larson and sophomore Jack Majerus led Minnewaska in RBIs on Friday with three each. Majerus and Johnson each had two hits.

Osakis kicks off a four-game road stand with a game at 4:30 p.m. on Monday at Pequot Lakes.

“I think they want to get better and they want to win,” Proell said about his team. “Overall, they're pretty young and we just haven't found a ton of success. So that's the piece we're kind of missing. We need to string together a few wins and I think the confidence piece will slowly be built from there.”

Minnewaska plays on Monday at 4:30 p.m. on the road at New London-Spicer.

Minnewaska - 1 3 0 5 0 0 1 - 10 8 5

Osakis - 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 - 5 7 2

MINNEWASKA PITCHING - Torii Johnson - W - 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO; Alex Panitzke - 1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO

MINNEWASKA HITTING - Jacob Blair, 1-4; Torii Johnson, 2-4; Jack Majerus, 2-4; Jack Larson, 1-3; Blake Andreas, 0-1; Paul Johnson, 1-3; Noah Jensen, 0-3; Cole Baker, 0-1; Hunter Johnson, 0-3; Logan Rood, 0-0; Nathaniel Dell, 0-1; Alex Panitzke, 0-1; Ryland Martin, 0-1;

OSAKIS PITCHING - Kyle Mages - L- 3.1 IP, 4 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 4 SO; Grant Mages - 3.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO

OSAKIS HITTING - Bauer Klimek, 2-4; Kyle Mages, 1-2; Jacob Johanson, 1-4; Brady Mages, 2-4; Wyatt Sell, 1-3; Grant Mages, 0-3; Mekai Hoelscher, 0-3; Chayce Meyer, 0-2; Ben Berger, 1-3

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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