On Labor Day afternoon following the Norfolk Tides 5-1 win over Gwinnett, Jamie Hoffmann was on the road for the near 23-hour drive back to Minnesota.
Hoffmann's season had officially ended with the "AAA" affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. It was a season that Hoffmann said was like a big time roller coaster year.
"I started out this season going to Spring Training sick with the (Colorado) Rockies," he said. "I got out-righted (released) and signed with the Orioles. I went into the season with no spring training, no at-bats. It was kind of a tough start - our team in Norfolk had a tough start. I was playing every day and at the same time trying to get healthy so it was a battle early. But after a while I got into a groove and felt pretty good. I was swinging the bat pretty well."
But then the Baltimore organization did something that Hoffmann did not anticipate when he inked the contract with them as a free agent.
"They started to sign a bunch of players and that limited my playing time," he said. "I didn't play for a while so my batting average started to drop."
With outfielders coming to Norfolk, Hoffmann had to learn to so something that he had not done before in professional baseball.
"I had to learn how to play off of the bench," said Hoffmann, who ended up hitting .254 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI. He also had 19 doubles and was 9-for-11 in stolen base attempts. His 366 at-bats for the season was third on the Norfolk team.
"After a while I started to get the hang of it and I was playing pretty well at the end of the season," Hoffmann said. "So I think that I learned a lot this year."
Hoffmann said that he signed a one-year contract with Baltimore so he is a free agent now.
"They [Baltimore] did not say anything either way," Hoffmann said. "They have a lot to deal with now trying to make the playoffs and calling players up."
Prior to electing to sign with the Orioles, Hoffmann had offers from the Twins and the White Sox. In hindsight, does he regret signing with the Orioles they way the season shaped up?
"The way things worked out this year, now I wish that I would have signed somewhere else," he said. "But you can't look at hindsight - you just never know. You look for the best opportunity and it turned out this was not it."
Hoffmann, 28, said that he will not play any winter ball this year.
"I am going to relax and enjoy time with my family. I got my cousin's wedding coming up. I am just going to try and get fully healthy again."
HOUND LOSS COSTLY: New Ulm Cathedral's 20-13 loss to Springfield was also costly in more than the loss column. Sophomore Jacob Gangelhoff broke his foot and will be lost for a while.
CHARGERS WIN A COMPLETE GAME: Minnesota Valley Lutheran's 22-20 win over Redwood Valley was a "complete game by our guys," said coach Jim Buboltz.
"We lost the lead at halftime but this time we were able to come back and get the lead and hold it," Buboltz said.
"We ran the ball well and we knew that because we had Ryan Grunke, Tyler Mielke, Matthew Tessmer, Kris Goetzke and Nate Wong could run the ball. We felt with five players back there that have a lot of talent that the running game would be the strength of the team," Buboltz said. "That depended on how the line did and the first two weeks the line has come up big."
Buboltz also credited the play of the defensive line of Sam Dose, Sam Koepsell, Mark Grunke and Dustin Maas.
The difference in the game was a safety recorded by Mark Grunke.
EAGLES MOVE BALL IN LOSS: New Ulm Eagles' football coach Tony Ortmann said the nice thing about the 34-18 loss to Belle Plaine last Friday was the fact that the Eagles moved the ball well.
"But the turnovers hurt us," Ortmann said. "We had three fumbles and two interceptions.
Ortmann said that the first-game surprise for the Eagles was the play of senior Aaron Stark.
"He played well for us on defense at cornerback," Ortmann said. "We had been looking for someone there and he really stood out for us there. I was happy with the effort. We took some chances to get back into the game but in the end it came down to turnovers."
Chris Mulder threw for three touchdowns and 239 yards in the game, according to Ortmann.
"He led the offense - we did a lot of play-action passing, which really opened up the passing game," Ortmann said. "We ran for 200 yards, That opens up the passing game."