Poor conditions force both squads indoors at Metrodome
By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
With the inclement weather forcing nearly a month of indoor practice, it was only fitting the first official pitch of the 2013 St. Michael-Albertville baseball season came indoors at the friendly confines of the Metrodome.
With heavy snow, cold and rain erasing the first two weeks of the regular season, the Knights finally took the field Monday morning against a willing partner in Moorhead.
Not an ideal spot to begin the baseball season, but STMA junior second baseman Andrew Winans and senior pitcher Jacob Dzubay were happy to be finally playing ball, especially at a place both have fond memories of.
“I love it,” said Winans, on his first ever experience playing baseball at the Metrodome. “Being in here and thinking the pros played here and the legendary baseball players that stepped foot in here, it feels good.”
The dome was the sight for both the Minnesota Twins’ 1987 and 1991 World Series championships. While none of the current STMA baseball players were born during that time, the Twins still made the post-season six different times between the years 2002-2009.
Knight’s ace pitcher, Dzubay, had the opportunity to toe the rubber off the same mound that another famous lefty – Frank Viola, the 1987 World Series MVP – once stood on, for a Monday morning 9 a.m. tilt with the Spuds.
“Coming here watching games when I was younger and going to the playoff games, it’s cool to be able to play on the same field,” Dzubay said.
The long awaited first pitch for both the Spuds and Knights officially came at 9:03 a.m. with Dzubay delivering a first pitch strike. He later retired the side in order and he and Moorhead starting pitcher Michael Weismann would butt heads in an old fashioned pitcher’s duel.
Both teams were held scoreless and held without a hit through two innings of play. STMA head coach Paul Schumm said the lack of offense early didn’t surprise him.
“It’s always an advantage for the pitcher at the beginning of the season,” Schumm said.
The first hit of the game finally came in the top of the third inning off the bat of Moorhead’s Zach Schroeder. It proved to be a costly hit for Dzubay, as Schroeder punched a line drive to deep center that went past the reach of STMA senior center fielder Henry Berning. It was a 2-out RBI triple that gave the Spuds a 1-0 lead.
STMA had an opportunity to tie the game in the fourth inning. After walking and stealing second base, Winans was then thrown out at home plate trying to score on a Dzubay single to center. Weismann and the Spuds would later escape the jam.
“Rounding third, I noticed the catcher was halfway up the line and on the throw home I just ran into him,” Winans said. “I could have been faster on my jump to get to third, but it was a blooper over second base.”
While the Knights squandered their only chance of the game to score, Dzubay was doing his part to keep the game close. Only allowing one hit through five innings, the Knights fell behind 2-0 in the sixth inning with a pinch-hit RBI single that plated home the second run of the game.
“It was a little disappointing,” said Dzubay on both runs scoring with two men out. “I left a couple pitches up and they took advantage of it.”
The Knights had another shot to break the goose egg in the sixth inning. A 2-out single by Winans led to his second stolen base of the game. But, Weismann again escaped the jam getting Dzubay to fly out for the final out of the inning.
Winans finished the day an impressive 1-3 at the leadoff spot, with a walk and two stolen bases.
“That’s what we’re expecting out of him,” Schumm said. “He’s going to cause trouble on the bases when he gets on and he’s just a solid hitter and solid player all-around.”
Sophomore Jordan Joseph relieved Dzubay in the seventh inning and retired the side in order. Joseph and Dzubay combined in the game allowing only two hits and one unearned run.
STMA had a golden opportunity to pull off the win in the team’s final chance in the bottom of the seventh inning. After Joseph and sophomore outfielder Tyler Berg led off the inning with leadoff singles, senior first baseman Tyler Dallum’s walk eventually loaded the bases with nobody out.
Senior catcher Jeff Hackenmueller followed with an RBI single that scored Joseph, but a costly base running mistake allowed the Spuds to force out Hackenmueller at first base, as the Knights crossed paths at second base.
It was the fourth time in the game the Knights miscued allowing outs on the base paths. Despite a solid pitching performance, miscues were the theme of the game for the home team.
“You can’t ask anymore from your pitcher. We had two errors defensively and one costly one that allowed a run,” Schumm said. “But the base running is what killed us. We lost four guys on the bases. We shore up the base running, we’ll be fine.”
After an intentional pass to load the bases, Weismann escaped the jam getting junior third baseman Sammy Guillou to pop out in the infield and Berning to strike out to end the game.
The Knights are hopeful to get a home game in this Friday against Buffalo. April 29 they are at Joe Faber Field in St. Cloud to take on St. Cloud Tech and April 30 they return home to take on Rogers. The Knights will play at the Metrodome again next Wednesday to take on Cambridge-Isanti for a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m.
STMA junior second baseman Andrew Winans is thrown out at home plate while trying to score the game-tying runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning. (Photo by Rob LaPlante)
Junior third baseman Sammy Guillou throws out a Moorhead hitter during Monday’s season opener for both teams at the Metrodome. (Photo by Rob LaPlante)