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Amateur baseball: For Hadley's Larson, ballplaying is a family affair

Joe Larson had five hits and six RBIs as Hadley swept a Gopher League doubleheader from Ruthton and Adrian. He was 4-for-4 with two doubles and five RBIs as the Buttermakers and righthander Jacob Van Dam defeated Ruthton 8-3. Then Larson had a run-scoring single that was part of a six-run rally in the fifth inning as Hadley came from behind to beat Adrian 7-5.

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Joe Larson and his wife, Jacki, are holding children Myles (6 weeks) and Maryn (2). Also pictured are Sophie, 17, Russell, 6, and Harper, 4.

HADLEY —Longtime Hadley baseball star Joe Larson recently hurt a hamstring, which is a leg injury that can linger for a 36-year-old athlete.

But on Sunday morning Joe was feeling good, and that was bad news for Buttermaker foes.

Larson had five hits and six RBIs as Hadley swept a Gopher League doubleheader from Ruthton and Adrian. He was 4-for-4 with two doubles and five RBIs as the Buttermakers and righthander Jacob Van Dam defeated Ruthton 8-3. Then Larson had a run-scoring single that was part of a six-run rally in the fifth inning as Hadley came from behind to beat Adrian 7-5.

“When I tested my leg, it felt fine before the games,” he said. “I’ve been taking a little more batting practice with Alex Petersen the last week and the swing felt a lot better.”

Larson has been swinging well for Hadley for some time. The 2003 Murray County Central graduate is in his 19th season with the Buttermakers. On a sweltering Sunday at Laurie Mahon Memorial Field, Larson was once again a difference-maker for the home team.

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“He’s always there for the team,” said Hadley manager Myron Bennett, whose squad improved to 12-6 overall and 8-4 in Gopher League action. “Joe is a team leader who plays wherever needed. He’s a ‘team’ guy first.”

Van Dam fanned eight Ruthton hitters in a seven-inning complete game. Petersen went 2-for-2 with two runs scored. Van Dam, the former Edgerton Southwest Christian basketball star who is now playing baseball and hoops at Crown University near Waconia, also started the second game on the mound.

Reliever Avery Weber earned the victory against Adrian with four innings of solid work. Lefty Max Zwart got the save, striking out five in two innings.

Justin Benda had an RBI double in Hadley’s big rally vs. Adrian (6-9), while Petersen tied the game at 5 with a two-out, two-run single. Trent Carlson followed with a hit that knocked in two and gave Hadley the victory.

Brent Hokeness cracked a two-run homer for Adrian, while Jake Stamer had an RBI double.

The steamy Sunday was a memorable day for the Buttermakers.

“I wouldn’t say it was unbearable, but it was pretty dang hot,” Larson said. “There wasn’t much air moving.”

He has been moving around the diamond throughout his Hadley career. Primarily an outfielder early on, Larson has played shortstop for the Buttermakers in recent seasons. He’s fundamentally sound and rarely makes miscues defensively.

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Larson, who played ball at Iowa Lakes CC and the University of Sioux Falls along with Hadley star Nick Bruning, has been to the state tournament seven times — the last six years in a row — with the Buttermakers. He and Bruning are still among the top players in Region 13C, which includes the Gopher and First Nite Leagues.

“It’s still fun,” Larson said. “I don’t see myself retiring or stopping for a while, I guess. We’ll see what happens when Russell (his oldest boy) starts getting older, but I don’t see myself quitting completely.”

Larson and his wife, Jacki (Clark), have a large family that includes sons Russell, 6, and Myles, 6 weeks old, and daughters Harper, 4, and Maryn, 2. Joe’s daughter Sophie, is a talented softball player who will be a senior at MCC this fall.

It’s quite a ball-loving family and on a given Sunday they’re all at the ballpark watching Dad.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Larson chuckled. “They’re always yelling at me, too. Jacki likes it when I’m playing shortstop because the kids can see me better than when I’m in the outfield.”

Family means much to Larson, whose father is longtime Slayton area farmer Harvey Larson. Joe’s grandfather, Alvin Larson, and great-uncle, Jack Larson, a longtime Ag teacher in Slayton, both grew up in Murray County and served in World War II. Jack was a member of the Army Air Corps who escaped after spending six months in a German prison camp during WWII. He received numerous honors for his military service, including the Purple Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, and the POW Medal.

Independence Day, then, was a perfect time for a Larson to shine in southwest Minnesota.

“I have a cousin, Dustin Hurlbut, who is retiring from the Air Force on July 9,” Joe said.

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Dustin has Wilmont roots. His father, Al Hurlbut, established the A&T Tap in Worthington some 45 years ago.

“We’re all proud of him, too,” Joe said.

Just like the entire Hadley Buttermaker community is proud of Joe Larson.

In other Gopher League and First Nite League action last week it was:

Luverne 5, Windom 2

LUVERNE — Jake Haagen threw a complete game, striking out the side in the ninth, as the Redbirds improved to 14-1 in league play on Wednesday. Codie Zeutenhorst had a two-run single for Luverne, which subsequently dropped a 6-5 non-league clash to the Brookings Cubs on Thursday. Phil Paquette has four hits for Luverne against the Cubs.

Jackson 10, Mountain Lake 0

JACKSON — Sean Minder threw a seven-inning shutout as the Bulls improved to 11-7 in league play.

Minder threw a five-hitter, while striking out five and not walking a batter.

Payton Handevidt and Alex Bretzman each had a pair of hits and two RBIs.

On Thursday, Jackson suffered a non-league loss at Lamberton, 5-4. Evan Olsen and Lucas Gardner each had two hits for the Bulls.

Fox Lake 9, Lakefield 6

LAKEFIELD — Nolan Luhmann had two hits for Lakefield, which fell to 9-6 in league play.

Pipestone 10, Tracy 2

PIPESTONE — The A’s improved to 9-5 in league play with the victory last Wednesday.

Cubs have week off

WORTHINGTON — The Worthington Cubs didn’t play last week and return to action Tuesday night (July 6) at Windom.

Worthington hosts Lakefield on Wednesday, then hosts Fox Lake on Sunday.

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