Cubs competitive as Island Park returns for action

Windom Pirates vs Worthington Cubs S2.jpg
Worthington Cubs catcher Eli Gaul dives in with the ball to tag Windom's Sam Huska as Huska slides across home plate at Island Park Wednesday evening. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WINDOM -- Against a backdrop of green diamond elegance, the Windom Pirates amateur baseball team defeated the Worthington Cubs 8-1 Wednesday night in an exhibition game that gave new meaning to the word “exhibition.”

It was called an exhibition and not a game because, technically due to coronavirus concerns, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had yet to allow official amateur games to be played in the state.

More importantly, perhaps, the contest was the first one played at Windom’s iconic Island Park baseball field in nearly two years. One of southwest Minnesota’s baseball gems, Island Park had been unplayable due to flooding from the nearby Des Moines River since July of 2018. Only after an extensive and lengthy remodeling effort was the field ready for Wednesday’s exhibition between the two First Nite League teams.

The game (er, exhibition) was important, too, for the Cubs, who struggled through a winless 2019 and hope this year to reveal themselves as a viable outfit worthy of serious attention.

That goal, agreed player-manager Ryan Swanson, was accomplished.


“I thought we played well. That’s not bad for the first game of the year. We got to see some good pitching, a couple of the better pitchers in the league,” he said. “Our defense, you can already tell, it’s better than last year. Besides the walks, I thought our pitching was decent.”

Five Cubs pitchers saw action in Wednesday’s non-game, and none of them threw more than two innings. Adam Russell started and gave up three first-inning runs, walking four batters while delivering 39 pitches. But he sent the Pirates down 1-2-3 in the second frame.

Logan Huisman, Eric Heidebrink, Tyler Linder and Will Brandner also pitched for the visitors.

Most of the Worthington pitchers were on the wild side, as they walked 13 batters as a group and hit three more. But they also were able to strand 14 Windom runners on base. The Pirates collected just three hits overall.

Meanwhile, the Pirates received strong efforts from brothers Kobe and Collin Lovell, who together filled eight innings of work. Kobe shut out the Cubs for the first five innings and Collin dominated innings six, seven and eight by sending hitters down 1-2-3 every time. Noah Klass handled the ninth inning, where the Cubs plated their only run.

The mini-rally started as pinch hitter Danny Pavelko singled with nobody out to put base runners on first and third base. Tyler Linder then bounced out to first base as a run scored.

Kloss stroked a two-run double in the first inning for Windom.

Brandner turned in a solid all-around performance for the Cubs. Besides collecting one of the team’s four hits, he performed admirably at shortstop after moving there from his original center field position, and in his one inning on the mound he held the Pirates scoreless.


Teammate Linder also made a spectacular diving catch at first base.

Worthington will be in action again on Sunday in Northrop, with a 1:30 p.m. game against Jackson and a 3:30 p.m. game against Fairmont. Both rivals played Wednesday night, with Jackson routing Mountain Lake 18-1 and Fairmont drubbing Lakefield 12-2.

Worthington 000 000 001 -- 1 4 2

Windom 301 022 00x -- 8 3 0

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