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.”

Osakis baseball off to a torrid start through four games

The Osakis baseball team couldn’t have gotten off to a much better start after four games.

The Silverstreaks have yet to allow an earned run on their way to a 4-0 record with 14-4 and 10-0 wins in five innings over Eagle Valley on Monday night. Osakis allowed just one hit in the nightcap and its defense has committed just three errors over the first four games.

“Really just a great way to start the season,” head coach Shad Schmidt said. “Our pitchers have been impressive in giving us a chance to win each game. Offensively, we are getting some big hits and been able to string some hits together. We have done a nice job taking advantage of the other team’s mistakes.”

Doug Zimmel adjusted his chest protector during a game against Browerville last season. (Echo Press file photo by Eric Morken)

The Silverstreaks never gave Eagle Valley a chance in either of the games on Monday. They scored nine first-inning runs in game two after putting seven on the board in the first frame in game one.

Senior Doug Zimmel has picked up right where he left off during a Prairie Conference Co-MVP season in 2012. He got to Eagle Valley for five hits, including a double, five RBIs, two runs and a walk. Zimmel is 10-for-13 with two doubles, seven RBIs, two walks, four runs and no strikeouts through the first four games.

He was part of a big night all around for the Osakis offense. Jordan Frederick had two hits, including a double, four RBIs, two walks, two stolen bases and scored six runs in the two games. Drew Fearing added four RBIs as well.

The offense made things a little easier on freshman Michael Herringshaw in the nightcap. He went three innings and allowed just one hit, while striking out three. Hunter Scherr followed suit the rest of the way, striking out two over a couple perfect innings.

Lane Berberich was equally as impressive in game one. He went the distance, scattering five hits and two walks, while striking out five. All four runs he allowed were unearned and came in the fourth inning in what was already a 12-0 game.

“He really should have had a shutout but a few errors cost him that,” Schmidt said.

All in all, it’s exactly the kind of start Schmidt was envisioning for this team coming into the spring.

“A few things can be cleaned up and a few guys need to get going offensively,” he said. “But I am happy with the start. Pitching and defense have been solid and the bats are coming alive.”

Osakis boys in “dire need” of a win

The Osakis boys’ basketball team had an opportunity awaiting them with a 1-5 Bertha-Hewitt team coming to town on Thursday night.

The Silverstreaks were trying to get first-year head coach Matt Hoelscher the first win of his career and end a five-game losing streak in the process. Instead, the same problems that have hurt this team during that stretch showed up again as the Bears pulled away in the second half on their way to a 57-45 win.

Osakis head coach Matt Hoelscher (middle) talks to his team during a timeout in the first half on Thursday night. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

“I think we got a little tentative,” Hoelscher said of watching a halftime lead disappear. “That’s kind of been our thing this year. When things are close, we’re kind of in a game, we just find a way to turn the ball over, not get back defensively, just doing uncharacteristic things right now that are kind of hurting us.”

The prospects of a win looked good through 18 minutes as Osakis took a 25-22 lead into the break. Senior Doug Zimmel and junior Drew Fearing both hit two threes during that stretch as Osakis’ offense started to click after a slow start. Zimmel already had 10 points by the half. The problem is, he finished with 12.

Zimmel spent much of the second half on the bench after picking up his fourth foul early. The Silverstreaks had a hard time finding any scoring without one of their seniors leaders on the court. Bertha-Hewitt went on a 13-2 run after halftime that made it a 35-27 game with 9:55 left. The Bears never trailed again after that.

“We get in a lull when Doug’s out of the game,” Hoelscher said. “Just about every game this year, he’s had some foul issues where he has to come out. When he’s off the floor, we’re not as good of a basketball team. Obviously, he’s one of our go-to guys, and we look for him to be a scorer. When he’s not there, our offense does take a little stagnant lull.”

Fellow senior Kilar Zimmel tried to get his team back into it with five straight points late in the second half. The Bears were able to put the game away, though, behind the strong play of senior Michael Grewe and sophomore Preston Riewer. Grewe finished with a game-high 19 points and Riewer added 13, 11 of which came in the second half.

“Riewer is tough,” Hoelscher said. “He doesn’t lose the basketball very much. He attacks the rim. He sees the floor very well.”

Osakis finished with three players in double figures on a night when the Silverstreaks shot 40 percent from the field (17-of-42). Kilar Zimmel finished with 11, while Fearing added 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals. That wasn’t enough as Osakis was left searching to find a way to put an entire 36 minutes together.

“We’re in dire need of a win,” Hoelscher said. “It’s never easy going [0-6]. We have quotes every day and one of them recently was, ‘It’s easy to steer the ship when the sea is calm.’ When everything is going great, you’re winning, you can have turnovers here and there, but when you’re losing, turning the ball over as much as we are, we’ve got to find a way to get out of it.”

Things won’t get any easier for Osakis after the Christmas break. The Silverstreaks will play a 5-2 Battle Lake team on December 29 and a 4-0 Upsala team on January 3. They also welcome in the defending Class A state champions in Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on January 14.

“For the most part, they’re pretty positive,” Hoelscher said. “We just got to build off that. It’s a long season. We’ve got a lot more games to go and we have to forget about this one and move on.”