The Osakis baseball team played like the top seed it is in the opening round of the Section 5A-West playoffs against ninth-seeded Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City on Friday afternoon.
The Silverstreaks got a combined three-hitter from four different pitchers. They played error-free defense and scored four runs through two innings to take control of what became an 8-1 win over ACGC.
“Our main message is just keep playing baseball like you’re capable of,” head coach Shad Schmidt said. “If they play like they’re capable, I think we have as good a chance as anybody in our section. That’s all I ask them to do. I don’t ask them to do anymore. I don’t want them to ever do any less.”
Schmidt and his coaching staff went into the game hoping to get some work for all four of their pitchers. That plan worked to perfection as Jordan Frederick, Ky Zimmel, Doug Zimmel and Lane Berberich all got on the mound.
Frederick started and was his usual self. The junior dominated the Falcons’ lineup with four strikeouts through three perfect innings. He has now allowed just four earned runs through 34 innings pitched this season.
“I was just excited,” Frederick said of starting the playoff opener. “I’m glad to be up there. I know I have a great defense behind me when I’m up on the mound, and I always love getting the start. I felt really good.”
Ky Zimmel took over in the fourth and made it five perfect innings to start the game by fanning three in two innings of work. The Falcons finally got their first hit in the sixth and their lone run on a two-out single in the seventh.
Any team that comes out of a section tournament at the high school level usually has to play solid defense, and Osakis set the tone for that in the opener. The Silverstreaks have committed just 17 errors through 16 games after making all the plays on Friday.
“That’s how we expect to play every time,” K. Zimmel said. “It’s disappointing when we don’t. That’s’ what we expect of ourselves is perfect games every time. An error here or there will happen, but that’s the defense we have. We’re capable of that every game.”
Zimmel was a big part of the offense too as he finished with two singles, a walk and three RBIs. His two-RBI single in the first inning got his team on the board. Brandon Giesler and Doug Zimmel added RBI singles in the game, while Grayson Fortenberry walked with the bases loaded in the fourth to drive in a run.
“We needed to get out on top of them,” Ky said. “They came out yelling and were ready to go too, but we jumped on top right away and shut them down.”
That’s exactly what Schmidt asked his guys to do when he met with them this morning. Osakis is in a new position as the number seed in the subsection. The Silverstreaks felt they could possibly surprise some teams as the eighth seed in the West last year but fell in a 3-1 game to Browerville in the opener.
They won’t have the chance to sneak up on anybody this spring. Osakis earned the right to be considered a favorite in the subsection through a 13-2 regular season. It’s a position this team relishes after growing up together at the varsity level over the past few years.
“It’s a great feeling,” Frederick said. “I feel like we’re finally getting some of the respect that we deserve. Starting three years ago when we started making this team, we’ve just been working our way to the top, and it just feels good to finally be there.”
Osakis will now play the winner of St. John’s Prep and Kimball next Tuesday afternoon at 4:30 in Cold Spring. Frederick will get the ball again after only needing to go three innings on Friday. Win or lose, Osakis will play again on Wednesday at the same location.
The Silverstreaks came into the season believing they had a team that could compete for a section title. They got off to a good start in their win on Friday. Now they’re eager to prove even more as the competition gets tougher next week.
“We’re really excited,” K. Zimmel said. “We’re just trying to take it one game at a time, one pitch at a time, one at-bat. We’re ready to just cruise, but we’re making sure not to overlook anybody.”