Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda baseball in hot pursuit of first win
"It is a good group of guys we got here, they are young but we are getting better,” said hometown skipper Lucas Knutson.
HERON LAKE — The Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda Coyotes baseball team has undergone growing pains in several of their early season games.
In fact, the Coyotes season started in a nightmare 34-0 conference loss to stalwart Murray County Central.
But the Coyotes are progressing. They still can be prone to making an error and then falling apart for an inning, but on a Friday evening game against Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East-Chain/Truman, Coyotes coach Lucas Knutson hung his hat on the fact that his team played a full game without a dreadful inning defensively.
“I thought we played a complete seven inning game today. That was good to see,” said Knutson. “We talk about getting better every day in steps of success, and that was a step in the right direction. Playing good baseball for seven innings. We didn’t come out on the right end of it but we competed, pitchers threw strikes. It is just situational baseball where we gave up a few runs where we probably shouldn’t.”
The Coyotes had a balk, a few passed balls behind home plate which led to runs and a dropped infield fly.
“Little things that all add up at the end of the game,” explained Knutson. “But defensively I thought we made some plays and at the plate I thought we hit the ball better than we did yesterday for sure, and (what) we have in other games for sure.”
Lucas is a member of the acclaimed Heron Lake-Okabena Knutson coaching family.
The Coyotes lost 6-2 to the Jaguars, but have drastically improved over the season.
The Coyotes started freshman Brenton Erdmann on the mound and he pitched three innings. Erdmann pitched a scoreless first inning, allowed one run in the second and two runs in the third. He walked three and the lone hit was an RBI triple by Jaguars shortstop Carson Hastad.
Erdmann was relieved by junior Tim Salentiny. Salentiny pitched the final four innings.
The leadoff batters scored in the fourth and fifth inning against Salentiny, but he showed great resolve to work his way out of situations while limiting the damage. His defense also played well behind him and covered seven outs. Salentiny struck out five.
The Jaguars added an insurance run in the top of the seventh after a one out triple.
The Jaguars were able to establish a high strike zone, and one of the few unfortunate consistencies for the Coyotes was their inability to stop chasing fastballs above their hands.
As for the Coyotes, their runs came in the second inning.
Thomas Bartosh and Simon Spittle scored the opening runs after reaching base on error.
The Coyotes put runners on base in every inning, but were lacking the one swing of the bat to score runs the way the Jaguars did.
“Second inning would have been nice to get a few more runs there,” said Knutson. "Kind of ran into an out at third but they made a good play. We took advantage of their errors on that so they made some mistakes too.”
The Coyotes had zero extra base hits at Lakers Field while the visiting Jaguars had two triples.
Spittle reached base twice for the Coyotes. Salentiny hit a single to lead off the bottom half of the first and was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. Dillon Smith had a hit, as did Trevor Bass.
They play Red Rock Conference opponent Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey on Tuesday and with optimism and belief in their club they are hopeful that a win is just around the corner.
“Again this was a good step, that is a decent team over there they have won a handful of games,” said Knutson. “Hopefully we take this to the next game. We have a big game against Mountain Lake. A team that if we play well, we can beat. It is a good group of guys we got here, they are young but we are getting better.”
ML/GHEC/T 012 110 1 – 6 5 4
HL-O/F 020 000 0 – 2 2 1