Amateur tournament begins Friday
For three Region 2C and Tomahawk East League teams, the amateur baseball season plays on as Hanska, Lamberton and Sleepy Eye all see their season continue in the Class C state tournament in New Prague, Shakopee and Jordan beginning Aug. 17.
Hanska, the Region 2C champion, will get a week off and not play until 1:30 p.m. Aug. 26 in New Prague when it meets the winner of the Ortonville-New Prague contest.
Lamberton, the No. 2 team in 2C, tangles with St. Patrick. St. Patrick is the No. 4 team out of Region 4 and the teams meet at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 18 in New Prague.
Sleepy Eye challenges Elrosa, the No. 3 team from Region 15 at noon on August 19th in New Prague.
Hanska Lakers (24-7, No. 1 seed from Region 2C)
The Lakers enter the state tournament after a one-year absence and they come into the tournament at 24-7.
With just seven losses on the year, Lakers’ manager Chris Koob said that this team has been one that has displayed consistency through their first 31 games.
“We did lose two games in a row at two different times this year,” Koob said. “But outside of that we have been pretty consistent”
Koob said that the Lakers best asset has been their balanced line-up. As a team, the Lakers have a batting average of .301 and are led by Kyle Fischer, who carries a robust .407 batting average into the state tournament. Shortstop Kevin Larson is hitting .377 with Zach Fischer at .354.
“We are consistent one through nine in the line-up but we also have strong pitching that keeps us in the game,” Koob said.
On the mound, veteran right-hander Dayton Larson is 7-1 followed by Brady Mosenden at 6-1 and Cole Wellmann, who has posted a 5-2 season mark.
“They keep us in the game,” Koob said. “They do not walk batters (42 combined walks between Dayton Larson, Mosenden and Wellmann all season) and we have a chance with every game with them. I think that this year Cole has been our ace but all three of them are pretty solid all-around. And Dayton has really helped Cole out this year. He [Dayton] is a gamer especially this time of the year.”
And the Lakers’ defense has been solid behind the mound staff.
“There has been only a couple of games where we have had more than one error,” Koob said. “I will match our outfield and infield defense with anybody.”
Koob said that his team is a veteran one as they head into the tournament.
He said that the key for success for Hanska is the same that it is for every other team.
“You have to play with no or one error and get timely hits,” Koob said. “Teams in the state are not that much better than others talent-wise,” he said. “It comes down to making the plays.”
Sleepy Eye Indians (15-14, No. 3 seed in Region 2C)
Sleepy Eye makes its first state trip since 2015 and brings a 15-14 mark into the tournament.
“It is nice to be back and see what happens,” manager Bruce Woitas said.
Woitas said that like many amateur teams, there have been games when they do not get everyone at the games.
“But that is a positive as well because you get to play some of your younger kids,” he said. “And everybody gets a lot of playing time. When we do get everyone here, we are a pretty decent team.”
Woitas thinks that the Indians’ strength this year has been the play of their defense with a .950 fielding percentage.
“And we have good pitching for the most part through the year and we have gotten the timely hitting as of late,” Woitas said. “And that is key to have at this time of the season.”
Leading the Indians’ offense has been Alan Woitas, who is hitting .398 with Matt Berkner at .357 and Sam Tessmer carrying a .333 average.
On the mound, Alex Sellner leads with a 6-4 season mark. Andrew Woitas is 3-0 with Austin Fischer is 3-2.
“Before the playoffs started we probably had our whole team here once or twice during the season,” Woitas said. “All of our players were able to make it here through the playoffs and to the region. We got a lot of depth at different positions and have some options we can do for certain things. In the regions we had some good outings from our draftees [Jevan Richert and Jay Helget] as well — they have been valuable to us as well in our region play.
“This is exciting to get back to the state,” Woitas said. “We have some guys who have been there numerous times and some players who have not. It is a fun deal to have accomplished it.”
Lamberton Long Sox (28-8, No. 2 seed in Region 2C)
Lamberton heads to the state Class C tournament for the seventh consecutive year and the 10th year overall.
Neil Eichten leads the Long Sox with a .500 batting average (75-for-150) with Nick Altermatt at .423. As a team Lamberton is hitting .326.
Johnny Pistulka leads the Lamberton pitching staff with an 8-1 mark. Derrick Jenniges is 5-0 with Brady Bierl at 5-1 as the Long Sox enter the state tournament at 28-8.
On Saturday in the regional draft, Hanska selected Brandon Wilhelmi from Springfield, Lamberton took Mitch Kelly from the New Ulm Brewers while Sleepy Eye drafted Sean Mathiowetz.