Monthly Archives: June 2014

Saints win sloppy game against Mallards

By James Howell

It wasn’t the prettiest game, but it worked.

Five errors by Mound gave the Saints struggling offense the boost it needed.

In the first inning, Saints starter Tyler Zweibohmer got the Mallards in order. The second inning did not go as well, with Mallard right fielder Ed Kutz hitting a 2 run shot over the left field wall.

Mound got 2 more in the 3rd, to pull ahead 4-0.

For the Mallards, soft tossing left Pat Regan kept the Saints at bay until the 5th when his defense let him down. Regan set down Zach Lingl and Kyle Johnson to open the frame. With 2 outs, John Hohenstein and Reid Nelson hit back to back singles. A routine grounder to short off the bat of Brendon Opsahl looked like it would end the inning, but Mound short stop Mitch Kern threw it away, allowing Hohenstein to score. Another error allowed Karsen Forsman to reach, which scored both Nelson and Opsahl. Up with a chance to tie the game, Brent Opsahl delivered a run scoring double, knotting the game at 4.

The Saints kept things rolling in the 6th when Nelson hit a 2 run single and Brendon Opsahl hit a sacrifice fly to give the Saints a 7-4 lead.

The Mallards loaded the bases with 2 outs in the 7th for Peter Sycks who cleared the bases with a double off reliever Eric Hanson to tie the game at 7.

Brent Opsahl led off the Saints half of the 7th by crushing Regan’s 0-1 offering over the left-center field fence, putting the Saints ahead for good.

The Mallards threatened in the 8th, but did not score as Hohenstein cut down Tyler Hebig at the plate with a perfect throw to the plate from center field.

Saints closer Jordan Danielson got the final 4 outs on 10 pitches, giving the Saints an important 8-7 victory.

The Saints host Bird Island on Tuesday at 7:30. The Bullfrogs are ranked 6th in the state, so it should be a good ball game.

 

‘Whitey’ gets hall call

By James Howell

Shortly before taking on rival Loretto, Mark Forsman is visibly antsy. “Where’s the oil funnel?” he shouts from the Saints Field equipment shed. “I’ve been looking for 10 minutes!” Forsman has learned throughout his years that being the manager of an amateur team is a lot more than filling out the lineup card and giving signs. For his efforts over the years, he will be honored by being inducted into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame in September.

“I was the only one stupid enough to take this job,” Forsman reflects with a laugh. Having taken over in 1983 at the ripe age of 19, Forsman has been in the dugout for over 550 wins, a number that he quickly attempts to downplay, “That stuff really isn’t that important to me.” Personal accolades don’t mean much to Forsman because he realizes that while it will be his name on the plaque, there are many who helped to get it there. “When you think about all the people that have helped you throughout the years, it is very humbling because not everyone gets recognized for their efforts.” Forsman is quick to point out that his family has been instrumental in letting him be the manager for all these years. His wife Shari and now adult children Kayla Jo and Karsen have been a big support to him. “I know the sacrifices my family has made for this. It is very humbling when someone accepts your dream and allows you to do it.”

When Forsman took over in 1983, Saints Field wasn’t the field it is today. League secretary Brian Larson wrote in his book Over 100 Years of Dassel Baseball, Saints Field has gone from being “one of the poorest playing fields in the area, to one of the best.” This wouldn’t have been possible without the direction of Mark Forsman, who spearheaded many of the projects that have made Saints Field what it is today. Forsman sees the improvements as one of the most special achievements of his career with the Saints. “To see a community come together and build a facility and to host the state amateur tournament, that’s been one of the best things.” The 2005 tournament hosted by Dassel necessitated the building of a grandstand and maintenance shed. Dassel will once again have the chance to show off the beautiful ballpark in 2016 when the tournament returns to Saints Field. Improvements this time around will include new bleachers along the 3rd base line and leveling the playing surface among other tasks.

Despite leading the renovations and managing the team, Forsman also had a successful career as a player. His career average was above .300, and for most of his career he played second base, although he did spend a considerable amount of time at third base. Forsman looked back at his time as being a player manager: “It’s harder to be the player manager because I had a hard time writing my name in the book and still trying to manage the team.” Forsman struggled with this dilemma so much that he asked Joe Harmala, a fellow member of Forsman in the state hall of fame, to return to the Saints to manage. “That was good because it allowed me to return to playing more.”

With Forsman back at the helm, the Saints made a deep run in the 1993 state tournament. This tournament run produced two of the most memorable games of Forsman’s time with the Saints. The Saints edged rival Watkins in the semifinals, a game Forsman recalls fondly. “The game was tied 3-3 in the eighth and I put the squeeze on. Dale Grochow bunted a ball that was over his head and that scored the go-ahead run.” The win put the Saints in the state finals against Granite Falls. Ahead 4-3 in the 9th with 2 outs and 2 strikes, the Saints fell apart. Granite Falls scored 5 times, eventually winning 8-5. “I would give up anything to have that state championship,” Forsman laments, “It kept me hungry to keep doing it, but in the same sense it was deflating. “

With many state tournament appearances and only four losing seasons, Forsman credits pitching with the long term success. “The key to staying above .500 is to have strong pitching. It also helps to have quality kids in the program that understand the game.” The Saints have also been fortunate enough to have a lot of great players, something Forsman knows well. “Good players make managing easy,” Forsman stated bluntly. One of the best players from Forsman’s time with the Saints was John Riewer. He talked about Forsman and his time with the Saints glowingly: “Mark was a great friend, teammate, manager, and promoter of baseball locally and throughout the state…He has dedicated his life to baseball and the community.”

This is the second hall of fame into which Forsman will be inducted. In 2010, Forsman earned the honor of being inducted into the North Star League Hall of Fame, along with fellow managers John Timpe, Herb Koch, and Mike Gagnon. “Not only did I coach against those guys, I played against them too. It’s an honor to go in with guys you respect. “

Forsman will join Brian Larson and Joe Harmala as Saints personnel in the state hall of fame. He will be inducted September 20th at the annual event to take place at the St. Cloud Convention Center.

hof_article_forsmanWhile every inductee gives a speech, Forsman is already dreading it: “I really don’t want to give a speech” Forsman admits. He shouldn’t have anything to worry about; his career speaks for itself.

 

Bats falter as Saints drop key game to Loretto

By James Howell

There aren’t very many occasions when getting 3 hits and striking out 14 times will make for a very fun game.

Wednesday night was no exception, as the Saints fell in Loretto 4-2.

It would be unfair to place all of the blame on the Saints’ hitting. Larks’ pitcher Ryan Tapani was dominant. In the game the Saints lost at Dassel on May 23rd, Tapani wore down in his 3rd inning of relief. On Wednesday, he threw a complete game on 140 pitches.

Loretto scored 2 runs in the 1st against Jordan Flick on hits.

The Saints were able to pull even in the 4th on a 2 run single by Brent Opsahl, but the Larks quickly responded in their half. A 2 run double by Nathan Maher gave Tapani and the Larks all the runs they would need.

Over the final 5 innings, Tapani didn’t allow a hit and only allowed 2 batters to reach.

Jordan Flick was solid on the hill for the Saints, throwing 7 innings allowing 4 runs.

Jordan Danielson pitched a 1-2-3 8th, going right through the middle of the Larks’ order.

The loss tightens the race for the 3rd spot considerably. The Saints now find themselves tied with Loretto, with the Larks’ also holding the tiebreaker after finishing the season sweep. The Larks’ have now won 6 straight over the Saints, dating back to 2012.

The Saints host Monticello on Friday night, beginning at 7:30.

Zweibohmer strong as Saints finish sweep of Maple Plain

By James Howell

A first inning run would prove to be enough for Tyler Zweibohmer as he cruised cruised through Maple Plain’s order on the way to a 4-0 Saints win on Sunday.

Zweibohmer needed only 90 pitches to complete 7 shutout innings. The Diamond Devils greatest threat came in the second inning when Center Fielder John Hohenstein threw out Luke Hagen at then plate. Hagen would be the only runner Maple Plain would get past second base.

The Saints got a run in the 1st on an RBI groundout in the 1st by Jon DeRock. DeRock delivered again in the 3rd when he brought home Kyle Johnson.

In the 5th, Brent Opsahl hit a solo shot to left center field to further the lead to 3-0. Reid Nelson followed that in the 6th with a dinger of his own, also a solo shot, to make it 4-0.

Jordan Danielson closed the door with 2 scoreless innings, including a 1-2-3 ninth.

This was a good bounce back win for the Saints after losing big to Maple Lake, 10-3.

Saints lose big to Maple Lake

By James Howell

The Saints had to swallow a tough pill on Friday. Looking at the schedule, manager Mark Forsman decided to put the team in position for 2 upcoming games against Maple Plain and Loretto. This meant Karsen Forsman was charged with the unenviable task of starting on the mound against one of the state’s top teams. Forsman has a lot of potential as a pitcher, but is very raw. While he does throw hard, Forsman struggles with control. On Friday, that struggle was clear.

Forsman issued too many free passes, and ran up a high pitch count. He lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed 8 runs, 6 earned while walking 5 batters. The Saints committed 5 errors in the game to worsen the damage.

To be fair to Maple Lake, they are a great team. In the most recent Minnesota Baseball Association poll, they were unanimously voted the top team in the state. Even if the Saints had played at the peak of their game it would have been tough to knock off the Lakers.

Maple Lake hurler Mitch Wurm was effective for the Lakers. While the Saints got 11 hits off him, 6 came in his final 2 innings of work. He struck out 9 over 7 innings, allowing 3 runs.

In general, this game served as a stepping stone to this weeks upcoming games against Maple Plain and Loretto. The Saints currently sit in 3rd place with a game lead on Cokato. Losing to Maple Lake isn’t fun, but Saints fans can take solace on the fact that they were never likely to catch the Lakers anyway. The Saints goal the rest of the way is to maintain the number 3 spot.

The Saints will look to shake off the blowout on Sunday when they face Maple Plain, a team the Saints handled easily in Maple Plain last Sunday by a score of 8-1. Game time is 6:00 PM.

Saints Complete Season Sweep of Delano

By James Howell

The Saints were able to overcome a slow start on Wednesday in their 9-4 defeat of Delano.

Andrew Carlson started on the mound for the Saints. Delano scored 3 first inning runs on 4 hits. Over the next 4 1/3 innings, Carlson allowed only a single run. His biggest adjustment was being able to command his breaking pitches.

The Saints got a run back in the 3rd when Karsen Forsman was able to hit a sacrifice fly to score John Hohenstein. In the 4th, the Saints were able to capitalize on a throwing error by Delano right fielder Jeff Althoff to cut the lead to 1.

Down a run entering the 5th, the Saints exploded for 5 runs with the big blow being a home run by Karsen Forsman to deep center.

The A’s threatened in the 6th, but Andrew Carlson was relieved by Jon DeRock. DeRock pitched brilliantly in the 6th, stranding 2 runners, and shut down Delano the rest of the way. He was able to strike out Delano catcher and future Gopher baseball player Toby Hanson twice. In addition to his pitching, DeRock went 4 for 5 at the plate.

This was an important win for the Saints because they were able to beat Delano, a good team, without using Jordan Flick or Tyler Zweibohmer on the mound. This sets them up nicely for the rest of the week as they have 2 more league games scheduled.

The first of those games is against Maple Lake on Friday. The Lakers will travel to Dassel, a trip that did not treat them kindly last year when the Saints squeaked out a 1-0, 13 inning win. It will be a tough game, as Maple Lake has 6 batters on the North Star League leaderboard, and will also likely pitch ether Jeremy Schmidt or Mitch Wurm, 2 of the top pitchers in the league. The Maple Lake crowd usually travels well, so it should be a fun atmosphere at Saints Field.

Five Run First Fuels Saints Past Maple Plain

By James Howell

A fast start and dominant pitching by Jordan Flick was a recipe for success on Sunday when the Saints beat Maple Plain easily, 8-1.

The fast start was powered by 5 hits in the first inning off Diamond Devils starter Ben Stavig and 2 errors by Maple Plain 3rd baseman Adam Gregg. The only extra base hit of the inning was a run scoring double by Saints catcher Lucas Larson.

With a big lead, Saints starter Jordan Flick was able to cruise through the Maple Plain lineup. Flick struck out 8 in 8 innings of work and only allowed 1 run.

Jon DeRock pitched a scoreless 9th to close out the victory. It was a big boost for the Saints to get DeRock back in the lineup after missing some time due to an injury.

Another key member returning for the Saints was Reid Nelson. He saw his first action of the season on Sunday. The Saints weren’t sure they’d have him this year, but he’s a welcome addition after he batted .310 last year. Expect Nelson to get some time behind the plate along with some starts at DH.

The Saints have a golden chance on Wednesday to create space in the standings as they go for the season sweep of Delano at home. The Athletics currently sit in 4th place, a game behind the Saints. A win would give the Saints the tiebreaker advantage over Delano.

Big First Inning Costs Saints in Loss to Orphans

By James Howell

A 3 run first inning proved to be too much to recover from as the Saints lost to Howard Lake, 5-3.

After the Saints went quietly in the 1st, Howard Lake was able to score 3 times off Saints pitcher Tyler Zweibohmer. After a bad start, Zweibohmer settled down and pitched well the rest of the way. In all, he lasted 7 innings, and allowed 3 earned runs.

Offensively the story for the Saints were the missed opportunities. Everybody in the starting lineup reached base, and the Saints only went down in order once. However, this did not translate to runs.

Orphans pitcher Adam Koch worked into trouble all night, but was able to limit the damage. In the 2nd, the Saints cut into the lead when Lucas Larson punched a base hit through the right side to bring home Karsen Forsman. They added another in the 4th, on a single by John Hohenstein.

Howard Lake was able to get a run in the 5th when a botched double play opportunity allowed Dan Wackler to score.

The Saints cut the lead to 1 again in the 7th on an RBI groundout by Zach Lingl, but reliever Ed Cox prevented any further scoring the rest of the way.

With the win, the Orphans improved to 10-0 in the North Star League. In the most recent Minnesota Baseball Association poll, Howard Lake was ranked third in Class C. The Orphans seem to be a lock to advance to the state tournament out of the region.

The Saints are next in action on Sunday when they travel to Maple Plain to take on the Diamond Devils at 2 PM.

Saints pitcher Tyler Zweibohmer winds into his delivery in Howard Lake on Friday night.
Saints pitcher Tyler Zweibohmer winds into his delivery in Howard Lake on Friday night.

Saints Win Rain Shortened Game Over Pearl Lake

By James Howell

It may only have lasted 6 innings, but the Saints got the job done on Wednesday with a 7-2 win against Pearl Lake.

The story again was the Saints bats. They pounded out 12 hits and everyone in the starting lineup reached base.

Leading the way was newcomer Adam Smith. Despite some troubles throwing the ball back to the pitcher, Smith tabbed his first career Saints hit in the 2nd, and added a double in the 3rd.

Eric Hanson started on the mound, and worked 3 innings as he continues to build up arm strength. Hanson allowed 2 runs, 1 earned and struck out 2.

Brendon Opsahl relieved him, and dominated. In 3 innings of work, he struck out 5 and did not allow a hit.

After an all around solid win, the Saints now have their sights set on handing undefeated Howard Lake their first loss. The Saints were 1-2 against the Orphans last year, including a heartbreaking 1-0 extra inning loss in the playoffs. The game is set for Friday at Memorial Park in Howard Lake, beginning at 7:30.

Saints Pound Delano

By James Howell

Going into this season, one thing that stood out on the schedule was the small number of road games. On Sunday, the Saints’ bats made the trip east on Highway 12 as they handled the Athletics easily.

Once again, newcomer Jon DeRock was a key factor. For a second game in a row, he was charged with stepping in for the injured Lucas Larson behind the dish. DeRock also pitched a scoreless 7th inning. At the plate, he collected 4 hits and scored a run. As a whole, the Saints got 15 hits.

The pitching was also solid. Karsen Forsman started on the mound. He got himself into trouble a couple of times with his control. Forsman walked 4 and hit 2 batters, but only allowed 1 run in 6 innings.

Jordan Danielson got some work in at the end of the game. He pitched 2 innings, allowing a run, but ultimately got the job done.

The Saints were able to celebrate their big 9-2 over a Delano team that swept them a year ago. The Saints take on non-league opponent Pearl Lake on Wednesday at Saints Field. It should serve as a good tune up as the Saints gear up to travel to Howard Lake Friday to take on the Orphans.