College Baseball: Pierz graduates deal with loss of season at St. Scholastica

Pierz graduate Lane Girtz had his last season at St. Scholastica stripped from him due to COVID-19. Derek Montgomery / CSS Athletics

For St. Scholastica baseball, the players knew the cancelations of their season due to COVID-19 was coming.

“We were on our way to practice and we were seeing news about the NCAA (tournaments) being canceled and stuff,” Pierz graduate Lane Girtz said. “Everyone seemed to be waiting for the bad news as if it was inevitable.”

Despite being a junior, Girtz will graduate this year with a business management degree and will not use the extra year of eligibility.

Before season cancelation was announced, St. Scholastica still had a game scheduled March 13 against Benedictine. Before the game, head coach Kevin Ritsche told the seniors the season most likely wasn’t happening and asked if they wanted to spend the final moments of the 2020 season with their teammates on the field or in the hotel.

“We decided to play one more game,” Girtz said. “It’s just a lot easier to be in control.”


St. Scholastica lost its final game 6-1, but the result was the last thing on the minds of the players. As the game winded down each senior got a standing ovation as they walked off the field one last time.

The Saints finished the shortened 2020 season 4-4-1 with Girtz starting in the outfield all nine games. He hit .233 with seven hits in 30 at-bats. He notched one triple and two RBIs. He finishes his career with a .343 average, 11 doubles, three triples, two home runs and 24 RBIs.

The first person Girtz thought of when he heard of the NCAA Championships getting canceled was his cousin Kolton Eischens. Eischens, another Pierz graduate, was the senior-captain of the St. Cloud State wrestling team. They were competing for Division II wrestling championships at the time of the cancelations.

“Going through all the work, I was in wrestling in high school so I know all the time they put in that,” Girtz said. “They dedicate almost their entire life to the sport and just get it taken away so that’s what I initially thought of.”

Girtz had two other Pierz teammates playing with him at St. Scholastica. One of them is his roommate Matt Tautges who graduated from Pierz the same year as Girtz. The other is Aaron Weber who is a year older than Tautges and Girtz and a senior at St. Scholastica.

“That’s one of the reasons I came here,” Girtz said. “Aaron Weber and I would work out together and hit together all the time. It was really fun translating our high school relationship to college and building from it.”

Weber started all nine games for the Saints and hit .194 with six hits in 31 at-bats. He smashed two doubles and six RBIs. For his career, Weber finishes as a lifetime .332 hitter for St. Scholastica with 20 doubles, five triples, seven home runs and 70 RBIs.

Tautges appeared in five games during the season and finished with a 1-1 record with a 4.72 ERA in 13 1/3 innings. Unlike Girtz, he plans to play his senior year, but probably not his extra year.


“For the seniors that graduate this year they had a whole year cut from them,” Tautges said. “A lot of them get the opportunity to come back, but a lot of them have jobs lined up already. For me knowing that I can come back and not take things for granted — you can see how fast it can be taken from you — it puts a little light on how thankful I am to come back another year.”

With three players from Pierz, Tautges admits the rest of his teammates poked fun and called them the ‘Pierz boys.’

“It’s really cool,” Tautges said. “A lot of the guys up here give us a little grief because we are all the ‘Pierz boys’ and everyone wants to be the ‘Pierz boys.’ We have a lot of good chemistry. There’s a big culture at St. Scholastica, so that’s really nice.”

Tautges and Girtz have lived together all three years at St. Scholastica. They are in their second week of having school online since campus closed due to COVID-19. Both still live together through the madness.

“We are kind of just hanging out,” Girtz said. “I’m doing some work at one of my professor’s house. Just trying to get the most out of the last couple of months we got.”

Other male area athletes at St. Scholastica:

  • Wadena-Deer Creek’s Noah Ross plays basketball. The sophomore played in 15 games in 2019-20.

  • Crosby-Ironton’s Jack Silgen plays basketball. The sophomore averaged 12.5 points and 7.3 rebounds a game in 2019-20.

  • Aitkin’s Jake Kukowski plays football. The freshman defensive back recorded 62 tackles and two interceptions in nine games in 2019.

  • Little Falls’ Oscar Norgren plays soccer. The freshman played in seven games in 2019.

  • Brainerd’s Ben Renner runs track and field. He ran the 200- and 400-meter races.


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