Pequot’s Yackley is a difficult out
Bryan Yackley has found his groove.
The Pequot Lakes senior entered the baseball season with high expectations, but nothing like what he’s been able to do lately.
During a 13-12 loss to Aitkin May 17, Yackley went 4-for-5 with three RBIs. He followed that by going 2-3 with a double against Sebeka two days later. In a Mid-State Conference doubleheader with Park Rapids May 20, Yackley finished 2-3 with two RBIs in Game One. That helped him earn the victory on the mound as he pitched all seven innings.
In Game Two, Yackley went 3-4 with three RBIs.
Against Upsala May 23, Yackley continued his torrid pace by going 3-for-3.
“He’s finally hitting the ball to the opposite field,” said Pequot head coach Kyle Spray. “Before he would always try to turn on the ball. Now he’s hitting the ball all over the entire field.”
Yackley’s become so potent with a bat that he dropped from the clean-up spot in the order to No. 3. The hope is he gets more at bats.
“I like it because starting out the game I have two really good players in front of me,” said Yackley. “If they get on base then that gives me the opportunity to move them up or drive them home. Hopefully, I can drive in some more runs.”
Yackley’s recent batting barrage jumped his season average to .500. Of his 31 hits, two are doubles and two are home runs. He’s also scored 17 times and driven in 19 runs.
“We kind of expected this from him last year as a junior,” said Spray. “He had a great sophomore year on the junior varsity. He had one game where he hit a grand slam and a three-run home run in the same inning. That’s pretty impressive for a sophomore.
“He’s a power guy. Hitting definitely is his strength, but he’s also become our No. 1 pitcher.”
In 34 innings pitched, Yackley has struck out 26 and owns a 3-3 record with a 4.40 ERA. Yackley, who throws a fastball, curveball and changeup, has struggled with his control lately.
“Pitching is going pretty good,” said Yackley. “I’m recently struggling with walking too many guys, but I’m working on that. I’m doing pretty good.”
Yackley has been solid at third base when he’s not pitching. Spray said his senior is a coachable player, who is respected by teammates. He also takes pride in working at getting better, something that has been noticeable in Pequot’s box scores.
“I’ve really been working on my mechanics and that’s helped me get my hands level on my swing,” Yackley said. “Before, I’ve never been able to do that. Now, since I changed my mechanics, I’ve been able to do that and it’s been working.
“I’m pretty confident when I go to the plate. Sometimes I get a little nervous, depending on the situation, but I always feel like I can get a hit.”
Other notable performances:
Baseball: Darian Rubner, Pine River-Backus, finished 3-4 with four RBIs against Laporte.
Jordan Hunstad, Pillager, went 5-7 with two doubles, a triple and home run in two games against Sebeka.
Dean Lynn, Aitkin, finished 3-5 with a double and four RBIs, including the game-winner against Pequot Lakes.
Mitch Dorn, Little Falls, struck out six in a complete-game win over St. Cloud Tech and struck out 14 in a win over Pierz.
Dylan Kummet, Pierz, went 3-4 with two doubles, three runs and a stolen base against Maple Lake. He was 2-2 with two RBIs, two stolen bases and a run against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.
Dan Dally, Aitkin, struck out 10 in a one-hit shutout of Crosby-Ironton.
Golf: Tyler Fix, Wadena-Deer Creek, shot 75 for a share of the Mid-State Conference title.
Kyle Thompson, Aitkin, shot 44 for co-medalist honors against Hinckley-Finlayson.
Michael Wing, Wadena-Deer Creek, shot 71 for medalist honors in the Mid-Minn meet.
Zach Israelson, Staples-Motley, won the Wadena-Deer Creek Invite with a 75.
Track and field: Jordan Anderson, Pequot Lakes, won the 110- and 300-meter hurdles in the Mid-State Conference meet. He won three more events at the TDS Twilight meet.
Brian Huber, Staples-Motley, won the 100 and 200 dashes and the long and high jumps at the Mid-State Conference meet.
Shane White, Pillager, won the 110 and 300 hurdles and the 100 dash at the Park Region Conference meet.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.