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Defense and pitching key good season

Laker senior Tyler Gebhart led the team in pitching with a 4-1 record. BRIAN BASHAM/RECORD

After finishing the 2013 baseball season with an impressive 16-5 record, the Detroit Lakes team definitely made some believers out of their doubters.

Losing a big contingent of seniors from the 2012 season, the Lakers displayed a deep pitching rotation and a solid defense, which backed up their strike-throwing pitchers.

“We had to play good defense to back up our pitchers, because they did throw strikes,” said DL head coach Steve Fuhs.

“Our defense caught the ball and that was key.”

Senior Tyler Gebhart and his side-arm delivery baffled many batters throughout the season and it started early with a no-hitter inside the Metrodome in DL’s second game of the season.

Gebhart had a 3.27 ERA, while going 4-1.

But the depth behind him was also crucial, as pitchers such as senior A.J. Matter (3-1, 3.86), sophomore Connor Johnson (3-0, .42 ERA) and sophomore Ryan Cihak (1-0, 0.00) helped add up the victories.

“We knew what we were going to get from Tyler all season,” Fuhs said.

“All of our pitchers forced a lot of ground balls and I couldn’t have been any happier with our (rotation).”

Directing the pitchers was seasoned vet senior Kirk McLeod behind the plate and he also anchored the infield.

“Kirk controlled the opponents’ running game, while Austin Eiter (shortstop) and Nick Groth (second base) made us tough up the middle,” Fuhs added.

With Johnson and Cihak also having solid seasons, the Laker’ future on the mound looks even stronger.

The Lakes also were keyed with a tough top of the order, led by leadoff hitter senior Taylor Magnuson, who hit for a .400 average and notched a second-high 12 RBIs.

McLeod was a weapon from his three spot, where he hit .463, with 18 runs scored and seven RBIs. He also had a spectacular 19-to-1 walk-to-strikeout ratio.

In the clean-up position, Eiter had a .363 average and a team-high 13 RBIs, while Groth and Matter each were reliable as top six hitters.

“Magnuson and Kirk were very reliable for us up top, as was Nick Groth,” Fuhs said.

“Austin Eiter really came on strong about midway through the season batting clean-up, with A.J. Matter batting well at No. 5.”

As it is the case most of the time, the Laker seniors were the stick which stirred the drink.

“They really were a loose bunch to work with, but when it was game time, they took control of things,” Fuhs said.

The Lakers also shared the Mid-State Conference title with Park Rapids and Perham.

They had five All-Conference players in Eiter, Magnuson, Johnson, Gebhart and McLeod.

Matter was named Honorable Mentioned.

Fuhs also credited senior Reed Johnson for attempting a valiant comeback, which just didn’t work out by the end of the season.

“I’m proud of his effort after coming off ACL surgery,” Fuhs said.

“I’m thankful for his effort.”

Laker results - Detroit Lakes 2013 baseball regular season stats (playoffs not included) – Record: 16-5

Batting stats

                        AB    R      H      Bi

T. Magnuson    50   16   20   12

N. Groth           56   16   12   8

K. McLeod        41   18   19   7

A. Eiter             44   4      16   13

A. Matter          41   6      11   8

R. Grossman    51   5      11   8

R. Cihak           37   7      7      6

J. Lyngaas        29   3      7      2

S. Voz              28   3      8      5

T. Gebhart        18   2      2      0

C. Johnson       3      1      0      1

R. Johnson       3      1      2      2

J. Gailfus          3      2      0      1

C. Hegg            5      0      2      2

R. Wokasch      6      1      1      1

B. Thompson   16   3      3      4

B. Dahring        17   2      5      2

Totals               448 90   126 82

Pitching (w-l-ip-h-r-er-bb-k): DL – T. Gebart 4-1-33-25-15-12-12-13; A. Matter 3-1-23.33-17-12-10-23-21; R. Cihak 1-0-11-3-2-0-3-14; C. Johnson 3-0-21-16-3-1-1-21; A. Eiter 1-1-9.33-7-2-2-10-8; R. Wokash 1-0-11.33-5-6-5-7-9; R. Johnson 1-0-6-1-0-0-4-5; S. Voz 0-0-1-1-3-2-2-2. 

(Follow Brian Wierima on Twitter at DLSportsGuy.)

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.