Osakis baseball looks like a section contender through seven games

The Osakis baseball team will have to go through tougher competition than the 0-6 Hancock team they beat 23-1 last night to reach its ultimate goal.

The Silverstreaks know that. But there’s no doubt that this team passed the eye test in what was a dominating performance at Knute Nelson ballpark in Alexandria on Monday night. Osakis pounded out 23 hits and walked six times on its way to a perfect 7-0 record.

“These guys are focused,” head coach Shad Schmidt said. “They know what our goals are, and they’re kind of keeping their eye on the prize. I remind them every day, and they probably get tired of it, but that’s what coaches are supposed to do. They make it easy for me too because they look sharp, they’re focused and that comes from playing a lot of baseball.”

It’s a team that looked focused down the the finest detail against the Owls. Even before the game, Osakis warmed up with a purpose. The Silverstreaks were sharp and fast in everything they did.

Osakis head coach Shad Schmidt (left) and Doug Zimmel share a laugh after Brandon Giesler (right) crushed a two-RBI double before getting thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple in the first inning. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

They then went out and played the exact same way. Junior Lane Berberich got them going with a clean first inning on the mound. His offense then gave him five runs to work with after starting a rally with two outs in the bottom of the inning.

The veterans in the middle of the lineup set the table as Drew Fearing, Doug Zimmel, Ky Zimmel and Grayson Fortenberry all reached with two outs. The youngsters then drove them in as freshman Michael Herringshaw had a two-RBI single before sophomore Brandon Giesler followed with a two-RBI double.

That was just a prelude to a 12-run second inning where the first eight guys reached before an out was recorded. Osakis sent 17 to the plate in all as Fearing (2), Fortenberry, Ky Zimmel, Herringshaw, Hunter Scherr (2), Jordan Frederick, Doug Zimmel and Austin Rollag all had RBIs in the frame.

“It’s strong one through nine,” Doug Zimmel said of this lineup. “We got people who can drive the ball hard everywhere around the field.”

Berberich not only got the win on the mound, but he finished with five hits, three runs and two RBIs. Fearing added four hits, three runs and three RBIs. Giesler, D. Zimmel and Herringshaw all had three RBIs, while Jordan Frederick, Scherr, K. Zimmel and Rollag each added two.

Zimmel crushing the ball at cleanup

It’s an Osakis lineup that is filled with veteran guys who don’t give at-bats away. Seven of the players in the starting lineup on Monday are hitting .300 or higher through the early season. Fearing is batting .565 with 13 runs and 15 RBIs from the third spot in the lineup, and he has a guy with even better numbers behind him.

Doug Zimmel was all smiles as he stood at third base during a pitching change in the middle of a 12-run second inning for Osakis on Monday night. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

Doug Zimmel has gotten off to a torrid start after being named the 2012 Prairie Conference Co-MVP last season. The senior clean-up hitter is batting at a .739 clip with 17 hits in 23 at-bats. He leads the team with 17 RBIs and four doubles to go along with five walks and 10 runs scored.

“I’m feeling good,” Zimmel said. “The ball is coming in like a beach ball. It feels good just to hit it hard somewhere and get the runs in.”

Zimmel also has seven strikeouts, allowed just two hits and has yet to give up a run through eight innings on the mound. When he’s not pitching, he’s anchoring third or calling the game behind the plate.

“I think just consistency is the word with Doug,” Schmidt said. “He just does everything right. He’s smooth. He never gets cheated in at-bats. He knows what he’s doing. It’s kind of a high comparison, but he’s almost like a right-handed Joe Mauer. It doesn’t matter the count, you know he’s going to put the ball in play, and if he’s not going to put the ball in play, he’s going to take a walk. No matter if he’s catching, third, pitching, I’d put him at short or second and he would get the job done.”

Sights set on a section title

Zimmel anchors a team that doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses. Even the younger players in the lineup like Herringshaw (.412 BA) and Giesler (.389) have proven they know how to handle the bat through this 7-0 start.

“We got a lot of bats, a lot of hitting, a lot of depth,” Ky Zimmel said. “We’re going to come out strong with our offense. I’m thinking it’s going to be hard to hold us down.”

Lane Berberich came off the mound to field a ground ball during the first inning on Monday night. Berberich got the win in three innings of work. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

The pitching and defense have been equally as impressive. Frederick leads the staff with 12 innings pitched and an ERA of 0.58. Doug Zimmel (8IP, 2H, 0R, 7SO)  and Berberich (8IP, 8H, 1ER, 7SO) are also experienced arms on a staff that has thrown six different pitchers. Behind them is a defense that has committed just five errors.

“I’m confident in all our pitchers,” K. Zimmel said. “We have a lot of depth in pitching. I’m not too worried about the crammed schedule because we have a lot of pitchers who can throw well.”

The result of all three phases coming together has been a dominant start to the season for Osakis. The Silverstreaks have outscored their opponents 83-12 during this opening stretch.

Schmidt said before the season started that this could be the best team he has ever coached at Osakis. That’s why his sights for them were set on a state tournament appearance. So far, they have done nothing to diminish those expectations.

“They definitely have lived up to expectations, actually exceeded them in some sense,” Schmidt said. “I knew our offense was going to be pretty good, but I was a little worried about what our lower lineup was going to do. Tonight, they showed they can hit and play…it’s scary to think what we are capable of, but I think also when we see a little stiffer competition, we’ll see where we’re at.We have some big games coming up, and we’ll see what type of team we’re made of.”