Despite losing the first two games of the season last week, Mayer Lutheran head baseball coach Dave Lane said he is “definitely seeing some positives” on his young squad, a team he hopes can turn into a “pretty good team” by the end of the year.
The Crusaders opened the season by hosting LeSueur-Henderson on April 10, losing 4-3.
Cole Buttenhoff began his senior season by throwing six innings from the mound. He struck out eight Giant batters and walked three, only giving up a handful of hits.
“He actually threw pretty well for his first outing,” Lane said.
The Crusader defense struggled behind Buttenhoff, making both physical and mental mistakes, which eventually led to four unearned LeSueur-Henderson runs during the game.
“We made quite a few defensive mistakes, which as a young team, we’re probably going to do a bit of that,” Lane said.
After six innings, the teams were tied at 3-3, but the Giants pulled away with the win in the top of seventh on a Crusader infield error and a deep hit to the outfield, allowing a LeSueur-Henderson player to score all the way from first base.
The Crusaders outhit the Giants 7-5, led by senior Mitch Baumann who was 2-4, but the four unearned runs for the Giants are something the Crusaders will have to work on, Lane said.
“Overall, I wasn’t totally disappointed,” he said. “Defensively, we kind of gave them some runs that ultimately ended up being the difference.”
Mayer Lutheran capped the week with an 11-3 loss to West Lutheran on April 12. Despite the wider margin of victory, Lane said the Crusaders played a better defensive game against the Warriors than against LeSueur earlier.
Sophomore Jack Chmielewski made his 2014 pitching debut against West Lutheran, throwing four innings. When Chmielewski was done, the Crusaders trailed 4-2.
Senior Chase Anderson closed for Mayer Lutheran, throwing the final three innings and got hit harder than Chmielewski, Lane said.
“[Anderson’s] a good guy to come in for a couple innings, he’ll throw strikes,” Lane said. “But we stretched him longer.”
Anderson gave up five runs in the seventh inning and West Lutheran took the game 11-3.
Baumann again led the Crusaders at the plate, with a 3-4 day. Baumann, who moved to the starting catching position this year, is carrying the team both offensively and defensively.
“He’s been hitting the ball really well and been doing a great job (at catcher),” Lane said.
Tonight’s April 17 game was moved to Tuesday, April 15 to accommodate Maundy Thursday commitments. The Crusaders will be at NYA Central on April 21 and make up a previously postponed game at Jordan on Tuesday. MLHS will host a double header against Belle Plaine April 24, with games at 4 and 6 p.m.
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