CANBY — Last year, Trevor Citrowske of Canby was the Rookie of the Year in the Camden Conference as an eighth-grader.
Standing 5-foot-8 and weighing about 140 pounds, Citrowske went on to put up some impressive numbers as a first-year varsity player: .458 average, three triples, four home runs. He also stole 15 bases.
Tuesday, Citrowske’s reputation continued to grow as a power hitter.
Batting second in Canby’s lineup, he doubled into the left-field corner in his first at-bat against Minneota.
In his second plate appearance, he singled sharply to right field, driving in the final run of a four-run second inning.
Minneota coach Keven Larson put both of those at-bats of the left-handed hitter in the back of his mind. For reference later in the game.
In his final two at-bats, Citrowske was “pitched around” as the Lancers clung to a 4-2 lead over the Vikings, who snapped a 6-game losing streak Monday with a hard-earned 1-0 win over Central Minnesota Christian.
Both times, late in the game, with first base open, Minneota elected to walk Citrowske.
The first time, he was carefully pitched to until the ball-strike count went full, 3-2.
The second time, he was walked intentionally. That’s showing a lot of respect for a freshman.
Both times, the strategy backfired on the Vikings, who were victimized by Canby’s four-run fourth inning and six-run fifth inning.
Larson wouldn’t second guess himself.
“(Citrowske) had two hits to start the game,” Larson said. “He’s a great hitter. You have to play the percentages.”
When Citrowske walked, it loaded the bases for Blake Haugen, Canby’s No. 3 hitter in the lineup.
Both times, he came through to ruin Minneota’s strategy of setting up the possibility of turning a double play to get out of the inning.
Both times, Haugen singled up the middle.
The first hit drove in a run in the fourth inning. The second hit drove in two runs in the fifth inning.
“Their guy had solid singles up the middle,” Larson said. “You put the pressure on him, and he came through.”
Haugen didn’t mind coming up with the bases loaded.
As one of Canby’s top hitters — with a .406 average — last year, he was excited to step in the batter’s box.
“With the bases loaded, it’s fine with me,” Haugen said. “With two outs, it’s pressure. With one out, I don’t mind.”
In his first two at-bats, Haugen hit the ball to the second baseman. One was a liner turned into a double play. Another was a pop-up.
“The first two times, I dropped my shoulder too much,” he said. “I wanted to keep the bat on the top of the ball and hit a line drive.”
Haugen considers himself a “pull” hitter.
“I usually hit to left field or center field,” he said.
Tuesday, the Canby hitter proved that intentional walks — to Trevor Citrowske — don’t always work against the Lancers.
Tracy’s Mark Priegnitz, 44, is getting another shot at amateur baseball with the formation of the Tracy Express.
He’s played one year of professional baseball in Australia after having graduated from Wayne State (Neb.) in 1987.
“They paid my (airline) tickets back and forth, my housing, my vehicle and a food allowance,” Priegnitz said. “They got me a job (in a health club) on the side. You had zero expenses. It was great — awesome.”
He taught two years in Colorado and was also the head baseball coach/financial aids advisor at Otero Junior College.
Priegnitz later played several years of semi-pro baseball in Denver. He said it compares favorably with Minnesota’s amateur baseball.
He served as the baseball coach at Minnesota West (Worthington) last year, helping the team make the state tournament for the first time.
Throughout his career, Priegnitz has coached several players who have gone on to play professional baseball.