Legion Post 15 starts off well with 13-4 win
There may have been a bit of a sputter to the Detroit Lakes Legion Post 15 season Tuesday, but things fired up soon enough, as the Lakers downed visiting Morris at Washington Ballpark 13-4.
Starting DL pitcher Kyle Muckenhirn took two innings to settle into his mechanics on the mound, while the offense started clicking around Max Bentley time -- which came in the form of a three-run blast over center field in the second inning.
Morris used some aggressive batting at the plate to jump out to a 3-0 lead before Bentley's belt, which tied the game.
At that moment the ball flew over the fence, the Laker team seemed to get into alignment, scoring four in the sixth and a back-breaking five in the bottom of the eighth.
"Kyle Muckenhirn has been working with some new mechanics with his pitching," said Legion head coach Mitch McLeod. "He struggled with his release point early on, but after that, I talked to catcher Doug Dickey and he said Kyle was hitting all his spots.
"His velocity was good (low 80's) and his slider was good."
After Morris stung Muckenhirn for three runs and three hits in the first two innings, the lanky pitcher shut the visitors out the rest of the way and allowed just two more hits.
Bentley's homer in the second jump-started the Lakers' offense, which finished with nine hits and 11 total RBIs.
"I always preach go up to the plate and swing aggressively," McLeod said. "They also ran the bases well and took advantage of some of Morris' mistakes. The guys also didn't miss any signs or cues."
Aggressive play was apparent for Post 15, which finished with a total of four stolen bases -- including three of third base.
Bunting was also a key component of DL's run-producing offense.
The Lakers were able to advance a bevy of runners in scoring position with effective bunting, then the timely hits occurred.
The Lakers opened up a 4-3 lead with a four-run sixth, where Post 15 accumulated three hits and used two errors for their cause.
Third baseman Connor McLeod railed a two-run single to left-center field to score Brandon Johnson and Bentley -- who each reached on a hit by pitch and a walk, respectively.
Nick Polejewski followed up with an RBI single to score McLeod, with lead-off hitter Aaron Gnoinsky batting in Polejewski on a fielder's choice.
The lid was blown off in the bottom of the eighth with five more runs, with each of Dickey, Aaron Haugo and Connor McLeod scoring.
Lefty Ben Lindquist finished off the game in relief of Muckenhirn -- who went seven strong innings and allowed six hits -- in the final two innings.
"Ben was impressive," Mitch McLeod said. "He was throwing hard and pitched well."
Post 15 will travel to Perham Thursday for a doubleheader, starting at 5 p.m.
Post 15 to bring back good experience
With 36 games scheduled through the Legion baseball season, the Post 15 team will need good depth to compete in every one of them.
Experience will be key, and the Lakers do have a solid core returning.
Three return as 18-year-old players in catcher Doug Dickey, outfielder Adam Thielen and first baseman Max Bentley.
Dickey will be a key factor in managing the pitching staff, as one of the area's top catchers. He played at Northern State this past college season and brings a consistent bat, which banged out a .296 average last Legion season.
"Doug is such a good leader and a great catcher," McLeod said. "All three guys will have to be impact players."
Pitching also could be strength, with some lively arms on the mound.
DL's ace Brock Johnson had a good high school season and became a strikeout pitcher.
"We'll continue to work on Brock's velocity and work on being more consistent with his release point," McLeod said. "His slider is getting better and when that pitch starts dropping three plains, he'll be a good strikeout pitcher."
DL will also employ two left-handed pitchers in Alex Guetter and Ben Lindquist.
Guetter has good control and a strong curveball, while being a pitcher who can eat up innings.
Lindquist is raw, but McLeod is confident in the sophomore pitcher.
"Ben has tremendous potential, now he just has to prove it," McLeod added.
Polejewski will also see time as a starter after making several starts this spring, and Muckenhirn is also developing into a thrower who can find time in the starting rotation.
Some relief duty could go to Connor McLeod, Aaron Haugo, Reed Oistad and later in the season, Dickey.
"We'll have up to 10 guys who will see innings on the mound," McLeod said.
The infield will be a fluid one, with players seeing time at different spots.
Oistad will play at both shortstop and third base, with Connor McLeod flip-flopping with him, while Gnoinsky and T.J. Manning will be the team's second basemen.
An array of players will play at first, including Bentley, Muckenhirn, Polejewski, Lindquist and Haugo.
There also will be plenty of bodies who can play in the outfield, with the athletic Thielen -- who is playing football at Minnesota State University Mankato -- manning center field.
Max Knoll will give closing speed in the gaps at either right or left field, as well.
Others include Brandon Johnson (also a backup catcher), Gnoinsky, Muckenhirn, Manning and Andy Pedersen.
"Defensively, 75 percent of the errors are due to being in the wrong position," McLeod said. "We will be concentrating on being in the right position. We'll get back to the basics."
Consistency will be the word for the offense, along with aggressiveness.
"I think we'll have a consistent one through nine (hitters)," the Legion coach said. "They struggled against the curveball, so that will be one thing to focus on... to stay back and stay on top of the ball."
The Lakers will play in three highly competitive tournaments. In fact, the majority of their 36 scheduled games will be against high-caliber teams.
They play in the Fargo-Moorhead Tourney, June 26-28 and the Gopher Classic, July 10-12.
The DL Water Carnival Classic will be July 16-19, with Aberdeen, Armstrong, Rosetown, Moorhead and East Grand Forks competing in DL.
Post 15 results
Morris at Detroit Lakes, Tuesday, June 9.
Morris 210 000 100 - 4 8 4
D.L. 031 004 05x -13 9 1
AB R H Bi
A. Gnoinsky 5 2 2 1
M. Knoll 4 1 0 0
R. Oistad 3 0 0 0
D. Dickey 4 2 0 2
Bro. Johnson 4 2 2 0
Bra. Johnson 3 1 0
M. Bentley 2 2 1 3
Haugo 1 0 0 1
C. McLeod 4 1 2 3
N. Polejewski 3 1 1 1
A. Pedersen 2 1 1 0
Totals 32 13 9 11
Pitching: DL - K. Muckenhirn (WP), B. Lindquist (8) and D. Dickey.