Eagles, Greyhounds off to a fast start so far
By Jim Bastian
Journal Sports Writer
NEW ULM – In the 13 ballgames that the New Ulm Eagles’ baseball team has played this season in posting an 11- 2 record, Eagles’ coach Jay Backer thinks that his team has played just one bad inning – that coming in the seventh inning against Fairmont – in a 14-3 home loss to the Cardinals.
“Unfortunately that bad inning came against a (South Central) conference rival and a game that we needed to win,” he said. “We are happy with the season except for that one inning against Fairmont.”
The Eagles entered that game having played six games in four days and may have been tired mentally.
“Physically we were not tired but mentally you get tired,” Backer said. “That is a lot of baseball but everybody else is in the same situation right now. We just lost our focus in that inning.”
As this season has progressed, Backer is finding pitching depth behind his 1-2 punch of Tanner Kluis and Chase Meyer.
In a 3-2 win over Waseca Tuesday, Andy Stewart went the distance giving up just four hits.
“Andy threw strikes and threw well,” Backer said. “We are getting good pitching in Wyatt Peterson – he has shown that he is our No. 3 starter. He has pitched well for us all year.”
While the Eagles pitching is starting to take shape, Backer looks at his team’s hitting as also becoming a force to be dealt with.
“Our hitting one through nine – I knew that we had good three or four hitters who were consistent at the plate but one through nine are all hitting the ball,” he said. “We may have some guys who do not have a high batting average but they are putting the ball in play and hitting it hard.”
New Ulm has a conference game at Blue Earth Area on Thursday before traveling to St. Anthony Village on Friday.
“The kids know that that game is a big game – they know who they are playing. They are excited about what St. Anthony brings.”
GREYHOUNDS PLAY STEADY: New Ulm Cathedral baseball coach Bob Weier said that he “is pleased that we have played well quite well against the better teams in the conference. There are some games on the schedule that we were the favorite going in.
“I am pleased the way that we played against Springfield and in our results against Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s,” Weier said about his 7-2 squad. “Although Tuesday’s game was a little bit to be desired as far as our performance. We had a number of lapses on defense. And our pitchers continue to have problems throwing strikes. We are walking far too many batters at this point and we are hoping that it is just a case of a lack of innings pitched and not a trend that continues all season.”
Weier and pitching coach Randy Clyne have talked about that problem.
“We are hoping that it is just a case of not having enough innings on the mound,” Weier said. “The kids all throw in the bullpen and coach Clyne watches them closely and corrects things when needed.’
Weier said that he has been pleasantly surprised by the play of the left side of his infield defensively where there were some questions.
“We had two sophomores in Micheal Skillings at shortstop and James Herzog at third base. Thus far they have played well defensively – they have made the routine plays,” Weier said. “They need to continue to improve.”
Weier added that he is also pleased with the play of catcher Jack Schwartz.
“He is developing into a nice defensive catcher and we are happy with his pitch calling. He is also a sophomore and working on his throwing.”
Cathedral plays at Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop in a doubleheader before hosting defending Class A champion and unbeaten BOLD at 5 p.m. Friday at Johnson Park.
“That game will factor into the seedings. They are a good team and we judge ourselves on how well we play against good teams. Good teams do not give you a lot of opportunities. We need to play a solid games Thursday and Friday.”
“We need to get out pitchers to be more effective and stop issuing walks,”Weier said.’
LOCAL STUFF: Jason Shaul (University of Mary, New Ulm High School) was named to the 2014 All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference team.
Shaul hit .381 this season and had an on-base percentage of .485 along with a slugging percentage of .556….Colin Wendinger (St. Thomas, New Ulm Cathedral ) is 6-0 for the Tommies with a 2.78 ERA. In 45 1/3 innings he has struck out 34 batters for the 30-7 Tommies…Aaron Pfaff (St. John’s University, New Ulm Cathedral) is hitting .290. He leads the team in runs scored with 22 and in walks with 24. He has 13 RBI…Garrett Fischer (St. Cloud State University, New Ulm High School) is hitting .359 for the Huskies. He has 24 RBI… Zach Hoffmann (SCSU, NUHS) is batting .358 with five home runs and 41 RBI…Kyle Fischer (SCSU, NUHS) is 6-3 on the mound for the Huskies. He has 65 strikeouts in 67 innings along with a 2.42 ERA… Springfield’s Alex Fink is hitting .376 at Augustana with 46 RBI… Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s graduate Adam Sellner is a pitcher for Riverland Community College and the Blue Devils closed to within one game of the MCAC Southern Division title as they swept St. Cloud Tech by scores of 1-0 in eight innings and 3-2 at the Riverland baseball complex Monday.