Amateur baseball roundup: Lakefield Frogs start 2023 season hot

Last week, the much-improved Worthington Cubs defeated Pipestone 11-8 and dropped tight decisions to the Milroy Irish (8-4 in 10 innings) and Heron Lake (11-9).

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Amateur baseball roundup:

It’s been 90 years since the Lakefield amateur baseball team qualified for the Minnesota Baseball Association state tournament, and since the current program was kick-started about 12 years ago in the rugged First Nite League victories haven’t come very readily.

But so far in the 2023 season the Frogs are flying.

Lakefield, managed by Nolan Luhmann and led at the plate by veteran slugger Dustin Pronk, has played well this spring and last week posted a pair of impressive victories.

“It’s been a fun year so far and hopefully we can keep it going,” said Luhmann, whose team defeated the powerful Windom Pirates 4-3 on May 17 and on May 21 knocked off Mountain Lake 5-2.

The Frogs, who started the spring a few weeks ago with a narrow 4-0 loss at perennial league title contender Fairmont in a game that was 1-0 after eight innings, are 2-1 and have been providing some highlights so far in the young amateur baseball campaign.


“If we can throw strikes, we’ve got the guys in the field who can do the job,” Luhmann said. “As long as we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot I don’t think there’s anyone in this league we can’t compete with.

“I’m not saying we’re going to light the league on fire, but I think we’re definitely going to contend in any game. It’s always my message to throw strikes and play good defense.”

Pronk, a slugging first baseman, had two hits and two RBIs against Fox Lake. His older brother Phil is a crafty veteran who started and threw seven strong innings the previous game as the Frogs picked up a rare victory at Windom’s Island Park.

“Our pitching has just been phenomenal,” Dustin said.

The Frogs have several young players contributing mightily. Teen-aged hitters Gabe Wolff and Cam Scholten combined for three hits and three RBIs against Windom, while youthful pitchers Dalton Henning and Levi Lindley also performed especially well.

“Those guys have just been ‘lights-out’ on the mound,” Dustin said.

The slugger has always been a bright spot at the plate for the Frogs. He had two hits against Windom and cracked two doubles vs. Mountain Lake.

“If Dustin comes up with guys on base they’re usually not on base long,” Luhmann said. “It’s always fun to see him come up with guys in scoring position.”


The hot start is welcome news for Lakefield baseball fans. The only time a Lakefield team qualified for the Minnesota Baseball Association state tournament was in 1933.

“This is a great start for us,” Dustin Pronk said. “I can’t remember the last time we started out like this, beating some good teams. And hanging with Fairmont, too, because they’re a perennial powerhouse … We’ve only allowed nine runs in three games. That’s just some clean baseball. We can’t ask for more than that here early on in the season.”

Players like Wolff, Scholten and Bryson Powers are all playing well for the Frogs. They’ve all had fine prep sports careers at Jackson County Central High.

“Those young guys, man, they’re really producing well for us,” Dustin Pronk said. “There’s a bright future for us, that’s for sure. It’s really encouraging to see we’ve got some young talent.”

The Frogs play in Truman against Fox Lake on Wednesday night. Then Sunday afternoon at 4:30 the Frogs travel to Jackson — where many of the Lakefield players went to high school — to take on the unbeaten Bulls of manager Scott Bahr.

“That’s a huge game,” said Dustin Pronk, 29. “I expect a big turnout for that one.”

While the Bulls are 3-0 and a longtime title contender, the Frogs are hoping to give their fans something to cheer about.

“We can pitch it, and I know we can play well behind them,” said Luhmann. “I think it’s looking to be a fun summer. I don’t remember when I was this positive about a season going into it.”



Last week, the much-improved Worthington Cubs defeated Pipestone 11-8 and dropped tight decisions to the Milroy Irish (8-4 in 10 innings) and Heron Lake (11-9).

The Cubs, who have won two games this spring after posting only one victory all last season, suffered a tough blow when player-manager Logan Huisman suffered a broken arm against Heron Lake. He is expected to be in a cast for 4-6 weeks.

Cubs’ star Jake Brandner tripled, singled and knocked in five runs against Pipestone. Jake Stamer threw six-plus innings in relief and struck out 12 to notch the pitching victory.

Against Milroy, Brandner pitched six-plus innings and allowed only two run. Tate Gaul had a two-run triple and Logan Huisman contributed an RBI single.

Brandner was 2-for-4 with four RBIs against Heron Lake, but the Cubs’ pitchers struggled as 21 walks were issued. Huisman knocked in two runs with a first-inning single before he was injured.

The host Lakers trailed 9-2 before scoring eight runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Joseph Torres had a pair of run-scoring singles in the eighth. Ryan Kilian had a two-run single for the Lakers.

Logan Knutson picked up the pitching victory in relief of Heron Lake starter Angel Perez.



Newly acquired pitcher Nick Smith struck out 14 as the Redbirds knocked off the Milroy Irish 4-1 on May 21. Earlier in the week Luverne picked up a non-league victory, 10-2, over Jackson as veteran pitchers Ben Serie and Jake Haugen combined on a four-hitter.

Smith is a former South Dakota State University star originally from Chanhassen who lives now east of Sioux Falls. He earned all-conference honors in college and was on several Class B state championship teams in Chanhassen.


Danny Blankenship had four hits and scored from second base on a wild pitch to highlight a four-run seventh inning as the Hadley Buttermakers won 7-1 in Pipestone on May 21.

Kyler Deacon had an RBI single and drove in two runs, and pitchers Sam Erickson and Tucker Sorenson combined to strike out 11 for manager Myron Bennett’s Buttermakers.

Joe Larson had an RBI double and Brent Hokeness had a run-scoring single for Hadley. Hokeness also threw out a runner at home after catching a fly ball in right field to stop a Pipestone rally in the fourth.

Blankenship showed great hustle when scoring from second on a wild pitch that also plated Eric Wieneke in the Buttermakers’ four-run seventh. Hadley’s Alex Petersen reached base five times and scored two runs.

Keagan O’Brien smashed a solo home run and Brandon Alfson went 3-for-4 for the A’s. Pipestone left a total of 15 men on base.

The craft Erickson fanned five in five innings of work for Hadley, while the hard-throwing Sorenson whiffed seven and allowed just two hits in four impressive frames.



The Jackson Bulls improved to 3-0 in First Nite League play with a doubleheader sweep on May 21. The Bulls beat Fox Lake, 9-8, and Mountain Lake, 9-5.

In the win over Fox Lake, Easton Bahr was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI. Seth Busch, Lucas Gardner and Shad Wacker all had two hits. Carter Snyder earned the mound victory in relief.

Gardner went 3-for-3 with two runs, a stolen base and an RBI against Mountain Lake. Busch and Alex Bretzman each had two hits for the Bulls, who stole seven bases. Kevin Holm earned the pitching win in relief.

STANDINGS (League games only)

First Nite League—Fairmont Martins 3-0; Jackson Bulls 3-0; Lakefield Frogs 2-1; Heron Lake Lakers 1-1; Fox Lake Foxes 0-2; Mountain Lake Lakers 0-3; Windom Pirates 0-3.

Gopher League—Luverne Redbirds 2-0; Milroy Irish 2-1; Worthington Cubs 2-2; Hadley Buttermakers 1-1; Ruthton Royals 0-0; Pipestone A’s 0-2.


Wednesday, May 24 (all games 7:30 p.m.)–Hadley at Milroy Irish; Mountain Lake at Fairmont; Luverne at Pipestone; Lakefield at Fox Lake in Truman.

Thursday, May 25–Lamberton at Windom, 7:30


Friday, May 26–Ruthton at Milroy Irish, 7:30

Sunday, May 28 (all games 2 p.m. unless noted)–Ruthton at Worthington; Pipestone at Mountain Lake; Fairmont at Luverne; Windom at Jackson; Fox Lake at Heron Lake; Fox Lake at Mountain Lake, 4:30 p.m.; Lakefield at Jackson, 4:30 p.m.

Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at
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