Prep Baseball: Memories, hits, shutout innings collected at All-Star Series
CHASKA -- Results varied from player to player, but the four area high school baseball standouts who participated in the Minnesota Baseball All-Star Series last weekend all came home with lasting memories.
Helping the South team to a 2-1 record Friday and Saturday at the Chaska Athletic Park were Blake Rogers of Worthington, Collin Lovell of Windom Area, Skyler Wenninger of Luverne and Sam Erickson of Murray County Central. The South team beat Metro East 4-3 on Friday before beating Metro West 2-0 on Saturday. South finished with an 8-7 loss to the North team.
Rogers batted in the No. 4 spot as a designated hitter on Friday and hit the ball hard three out of four times. He didn't collect a hit but was credited with a sacrifice fly. On Saturday, Rogers started at catcher and collected a hit. In his third game, he was a designated hitter again.
"He looked good at the plate," his high school coach, Stacy Sauerbrei, said.
"It was a blast. It was probably one of the funnest baseball experiences I ever had," Rogers said on Monday.
Rogers, who will play college baseball at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville, Iowa, said he was excited when he learned he'd been selected to perform with the All-Star team.
"It's been one of my goals ever since I've been a freshman in high school," he explained.
Lovell performed solidly at pitcher.
"He had four really good innings," said his high school coach, Brad Schlomann, who led the Eagles to the state Class A tournament earlier this month. "He started out the first game against Metro East."
In four innings of work, Lovell gave up just one hit against East.
Schlomann said he has enjoyed watching Lovell, who will play baseball at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., grow during his prep varsity career. "The maturity level he has (is special). Over the last couple of years he really figured out what pitching is all about, learning about being in charge on the mound."
Wenninger had two hits in five at bats over the weekend. He also walked and was hit by a pitch. In high school, he held down the shortstop position. But aware of a deep pool of shortstops participating in the All-Star Series, he volunteered to play second base.
Wenninger will play baseball next year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Skyler's father, Mike Wenninger, coached Luverne to the state Class AA tournament earlier this month, and said he was impressed at how easily the all-stars got along as teammates.
Before the games began, coach Wenninger said, the players appeared somewhat wary of each other. "But they start the game and all of a sudden they're high-fiving each other. It's almost like they've been teammates all summer long."
Erickson took over on the pitcher's mound for Lovell in the Metro East game and showed some wildness. Starting out in the fifth inning, he hit the very first batter he faced. He also uncorked a wild pitch in the inning and allowed one run to score.
But in the sixth frame he sent down the hitters 1-2-3. In the seventh, he hit the first batter he faced, who later scored on a ground out.
"The funny thing is that he's a control pitcher, and that's what got him in trouble," said his high school coach, Tarry Boelter.
And what's even more ironic, said Boelter, was that Erickson pitched a seven-inning no-hitter for the Hadley Buttermakers on Sunday against the Heron Lake Lakers in an amateur game.
"I think he had a lot of adrenaline in that game," Boelter said.
The All-Star Series was a special treat for Boelter. During the Thursday night banquet at the Hazeltine Country Club, 2004 Hall of Fame inductee Paul Molitor was guest speaker. Molitor, a seven-time All-Star who secured his 3,000th major league hit as a member of the Minnesota Twins, was a teammate of Boelter's at the University of Minnesota. They played in the College World Series together in 1977.
Boelter and Molitor have maintained a friendship over the years.
"We had a good visit at the banquet. Kinda caught up on things," Boelter recalled.
In October, Boelter, who recently won his 350th game as the Murray County Central head baseball coach, will be inducted into the Minnesota State Baseball Coaches Association. Boelter's father, Don, was inducted in 2009 and together they are the only father-son combination both to win more than 300 games in Minnesota High School baseball.
Don coached at Sleepy Eye Public for 32 years.
"I think my dad's more excited about it than I am," said Tarry on Monday. "I tell people that when you get old, you start getting awards."