AMATEUR BASEBALL: Season’s greetings
Minneota opens season with 9-1 victory against Castlewood
MINNEOTA — There’s not much of a better feeling than opening day to a season. And after playing a shortened schedule last year with limited fans in attendance, Saturday’s opener was a welcome sight for the Minneota amateur baseball team. The Mudhens responded in strong fashion, using a couple of key innings along with stellar pitching to earn a 9-1 victory against Castlewood (S.D.).
“It feels great,” Minneota manager Tyson Sonnenburg said. “It was fun and long-anticipated; we haven’t had a lot of time to practice or get into the gym because of COVID regulations but we’ve taken advantage of the good days and [today] was just about getting at-bats, getting guys in the field and getting the pitchers throwing again.”
Both teams couldn’t capitalize in the first inning, but Minneota wasted little time in the second, as Danny Hennen led off with an infield single and Austin DeVlaeminck connected on a double before Preston Nuy drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. Tate Walerius and Brock Buysse then lined back-to-back RBI singles before Jake Leighton brought in another run to give Minneota a 3-0 lead.
An inning later, the Mudhens kept things going, with Sonnenburg reaching on an error and Hennen connecting on a double before DeVlaeminck smacked a two-run single to push the lead to 5-0 after three.
After two scoreless innings, Minneota got back on the board in the bottom of the sixth. Leighton reached on an error to lead things off before Alex Pohlen and Austin Buysse connected on consecutive base hits to plate two runs. Sonnenburg then plated a run on an RBI groundout before an RBI single by Brock Buysse gave the Mudhens a 9-0 lead. Castlewood got on the board in the top half of the eighth inning by capitalizing on an error but Minneota escaped the frame with a double play and ultimately earned the opening-day victory.
Hennen led Minneota with three hits while DeVlaeminck added three hits and two RBI, Brock Buysse had two hits and two RBI and Austin Buysse had a hit and two RBI.
Peyton Nuy earned the victory on the mound, going four innings while allowing no runs on one hit and struck out five. Hennen tossed three innings of relief, giving up just one hit while striking out three and Preston Nuy threw the final two frames, allowing one run while striking out three.
Sonnenburg said all three of them did a great job of throwing strikes and making the defense work throughout the game.
“Danny, Peyton and Preston all pitched great,” Sonnenburg said. “Danny and Peyton are probably going to be seeing a lot of innings for us and Preston’s a guy we can bring in when we need to so it was good to get them three or four innings. They threw strikes and the defense made plays and it worked for us [today].”
Minneota (1-0) will face the Milroy Yankees Friday on the road at 7:30 p.m. Going into the rest of the season, Sonnenburg said they just need to get back into their routines on the field and at the plate and maintain a high level of play throughout the year.
“Just getting out there, seeing live pitching because a lot of these guys haven’t seen live pitching in a while so that will be an adjustment and just getting back to baseball things,” Sonnenburg said. “It was good to get the game in and get those things underway, so we just need to keep getting better and hope for a fun season.”