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AMATEUR BASEBALL: Windom continues on tourney trail

WINDOM -- Jared Pick has made quite a journey this season. A resident of Luverne, Pick first started his amateur baseball season with the Redbirds. After they were eliminated, Hadley drafted Pick. Then, when Windom defeated the Buttermakers to qu...

Windom's Jared Pick
Michael Brauer/Daily Globe Jared Pick, a draftee from Luverne, throws during Windom's 1-0 victory in the first round of the amateur state baseball tournament last weekend.

WINDOM -- Jared Pick has made quite a journey this season.

A resident of Luverne, Pick first started his amateur baseball season with the Redbirds.

After they were eliminated, Hadley drafted Pick.

Then, when Windom defeated the Buttermakers to qualify for the state tournament, the Pirates solicited Pick's services.

"It's quite the ride, you never know what you're going to get," Pick said. "Playing with Luverne was a fun summer. Then Hadley picked me up and thought we'd do well there. Now Windom took me and called me last week and I said, 'Yeah.' So far it's been a fun time with these guys, they are all fun guys. It's a great ride playing for these guys and we'll see how far we can go."

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The Pirates are facing Lamberton in the second round at 6 p.m. tonight in Gaylord, with the possibility of Pick throwing.

However, both Kirby Johnson and Bryce Grove are ready if needed for Windom general manager Jim Johnson.

For Pick, being drafted comes with some pressure. He was asked to pitch for a team he hadn't played with all season.

In the first round of the state tournament Saturday in Arlington, Pick lived up to his billing. He led Windom to a 1-0 victory.

"It's a great feeling first of all," Pick said after Saturday's game. "We played pretty well. I know Windom is a good team; we played them when I played for Hadley. They played errorless ball and never messed up or anything. They didn't make any mistakes behind me (Saturday). I just threw strikes out there and they made the plays behind me."

The Pirates played errorless defense Saturday, making all the plays they needed to behind Pick.

Part of their success can be attributed to their 'team first' mentality.

"We have a very unselfish team," Jim Johnson said. "We have Kirby (Johnson), who has a 0.90 ERA this year, who throws the ball in the 80s. We have Bryce Grove, who has two complete games in the regions and throws the ball in the 80s. When we made it to the state tournament, I went to those two guys and I said, 'What's your feelings guys?' Both instantly said, 'Let's put him on the mound and play defense behind him.' We put Bryce at catcher, we put Kirby at first and we put Kody (Johnson) at short. It just makes us stronger. I was very proud of those two guys. Normally, when you have two throwers like what we have to begin with, there's a lot of pride. It was their idea to give him the ball."

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Pick came through for his new teammates. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out five. After a hit in each of the first and third innings, he allowed a walk in the fourth inning. After that, Pick did not allow a baserunner.

"This ranks up there with the best of them," Pick said of his performance.

"It's got to be the top three for sure. I've pitched well in the summers before, but I'd say state tournament baseball is the best and this is one of the top three appearance I think I've had. It's way up there."

After Luverne was eliminated from the playoffs, Pick received a call from the Buttermakers.

"I thought about not playing and giving my arm a rest," Pick said. "Then I realized it was a month without baseball so I figured I would see what I could do with Hadley and we just happened to get beat out. I thought I would give my arm a rest, but I figured I had another month left of the summer, I might as well keep playing ball."

Pick, who will be a senior on Southwest Minnsota State University's baseball team, started Game 2 for Hadley, against the very Pirate team he plays for now.

"They beat me in Game 2 of the series," Pick said. "I pitched pretty well and we played well, they just got key hits in key situations and played good defense behind their pitcher. They are a good ball team. It's going to be tough to beat us, I think."

In the game in Windom, he allowed four runs (one earned), on seven hits while walking two and striking out 13.

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"Did we beat him? Yeah," Jim Johnson said. "We forced Hadley, who drafted him, to field the ball. But we're a small-ball team. We steal and we try to manufacture runs. It's easier to manufacture them than it is to try to hit them across the plate."

Once Windom eliminated Hadley, the decision to draft Pick was easy.

"This group of kids has played high school baseball against Jared and we've known him since high school," Jim Johnson said. "We've played town-team ball against him for years and we watch him at Southwest State. We know his level of pitching. It wasn't a hard decision."

Pick didn't have to think much either.

"I said, 'Yeah, I'll play in the state tournament,'" Pick said. "They talked to me after the last game against Hadley and said, 'If your weekends are open, we'd like to have you play.' They gave me a call and I didn't even think twice about playing for Windom. I just figured, state tournament, good ball team, I figured I could help the team out any way possible with anything they wanted me to do. It was fun (Saturday)."

But entering Saturday's game, Pick had a little extra pressure.

Playing in his third consecutive state tournament, Pick was looking for his first victory. Two years ago, he suffered the loss for Luverne. Last season, he was a draftee from Jackson, and took the loss in relief.

"I just kind of wanted to get a win," Pick said. "I felt pressure big time. I came in here the last three years, once with my own team and once with a team that picked me up, and I can't get a win. After the game, (Moorhead catcher) Matt Oye came up to me and goes, 'I'm 0-4 in the state tournament.' I said, 'This is my first win.'"

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