The Drill: Baseball is the game for Adrian/Ellsworth's Lenz
Adrian/Ellsworth baseball player Evan Lenz, hard work is just part of the game. And he loves it.
ADRIAN -- Baseball players dream about hitting a walk-off home run to win the World Series, or even a walk-off single. Anytime you’re in the middle of the moment for your team, and the Big Game is won, it’s the stuff lifetime memories are made of.
For Adrian/Ellsworth high school baseball player Evan Lenz, his great moment wasn’t quite as big as a home run, but it was every bit as dramatic.
The situation was the 2021 Section 3A championship showdown in Milroy against Yellow Medicine East. YME, needing to beat the Dragons twice in one day to end A/E’s season and advance to the state Class A tournament, won the first game 3-2. So the two teams turned around and played again. The Cinderella Dragons, who entered sectional play as the No. 6 seed, risked ending their improbable tournament run one win short of the goal if they lost the second game as they had the first.
The rubber game, like the first, went down to the wire. Finally, Adrian/Ellsworth’s Evan Lenz took his spot in the batter’s box in the bottom of the seventh inning. The game was tied 3-3. There were two outs. The bases were loaded. And Lenz, on a 3-2 count, drew ball four.
It was a walk-off walk.
Recently, Lenz, a senior on the 2022 Adrian/Ellsworth baseball team, recalled the moment as his favorite baseball memory.
Head Dragons baseball coach Joe Kruger says Lenz is a player of few words. He’s also a specialist, of sorts. Whereas many top athletes play more than one sport, Lenz is strictly baseball. He loves the game, loves to work out, and that dedication shows up on the field of play.
He is a shortstop and a pitcher. He throws a fastball, changeup and curve. He considers his best attribute to be hitting, and to watch him perform in the batter’s box is to be impressed. His focus, his form, his swing through the hitting zone -- it all works together like it’s drawn up in a hitting manual.
For even some of the best athletes, however, workouts can be a chore. Not for Lenz, who describes his personal baseball timeline thusly:
“When I was young, I was always a pretty good player. And then as I got older, I was always a smaller kid and not as big as everyone else. I love putting in the work, it just gives me something to do. And it just gives me a good feeling. There’s a certain workout I do that’s specifically for baseball.”
This week’s Drill subject, Evan Lenz overcame his natural reticence and discussed his ball-playing career with The Globe. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com . Here’s a sample of the interview:
QUESTION: What is the most valuable advice you’ve received in your sports career?
ANSWER: “I think the most valuable advice that I’ve gotten over the years is to learn from your mistakes. ‘Cuz in baseball you make a lot of mistakes, and if you’re not learning from them you’re gonna have a hard time getting better.”
QUESTION: What is your approach at the plate?
ANSWER: “At the plate I just try to keep it simple, try to look for a fastball early in the count -- a ball that I can drive and try to drive it to the opposite field.”
QUESTION: What would you say is the most unusual thing about you?
ANSWER: “The most unusual thing about myself is that I love to work out. A lot of people don’t like working out, but I like it. It just makes me feel better about my health.”