High School Baseball: Brainerd's Warriors poised to defend titles

Combine a pair of 3-year starters, others who started part-time and talent moving up from a VFW state tournament team and the Brainerd Warriors appear capable of defending Section 8-3A and Central Lakes Conference championships this spring.

Brainerd catcher Matt Casperson throws the ball back to the pitcher during Warriors baseball practice last week. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery)

Combine a pair of 3-year starters, others who started part-time and talent moving up from a VFW state tournament team and the Brainerd Warriors appear capable of defending Section 8-3A and Central Lakes Conference championships this spring.

Coach Lowell Scearcy's squad, which is scheduled to open Tuesday at Sartell, brings back seniors Tory Miller and Taylor Streiff, both of whom have started since they were sophomores. Seniors Logan Madsen, Hayden Bukowski and Evan Brecht were part-time starters in 2014. Eight members of a VFW team that went 38-5 and finished fourth in the state tournament are being promoted to the varsity this spring.

The right-handed Miller was an All-CLC selection. He went 4-2 on the mound last season with 1.84 ERA, the lowest of any starter, with 48 strikeouts and just 13 walks. In addition, he led Brainerd in hitting with a .464 average, drove in 21 runs and cracked four doubles and two triples.


2015 Baseball


Head coach: Lowell Scearcy, 46th year (3 at Verndale, 43 at Brainerd)

Career record: 706-284 (.713)

Record at Brainerd: 668-276 (.708)

2014 record: 12-2 CLC, 21-5 overall, CLC & Section 8-3A champions

Returning starters: Tory Miller (ss-p), Taylor Streiff (of), Hayden Bukowski (p-of), Logan Madsen (inf), Evan Brecht (of)

Captains: Tory Miller, Logan Madsen

Assistant coaches: Keith Peterson (V), Jeff Howard (JV), Jay Sannes and Drew Boland (sophomores), Russ Wicklund, Eric Jobe and Lance Herbst (freshmen).



"Tory has been a very good player for us two years in a row," said Scearcy, who's two wins shy of having the second-most wins in Minnesota State High School League baseball history. "He was our MVP last season. He's a very good baseball player who we hope continues to improve."

Streiff started in right field and finished third on the team in hitting with a .357 mark, 29 RBIs (second on the team) and whacked four doubles, two triples and three home runs. He also pitched four innings in relief.

"Taylor we will probably use in a relief role," Scearcy said. "Although we don't usually have closers in high school I think that would be a good role for him, at least to try him in."

Bukowski played some third base last season and went 3-0 on the hill with a 4.63 ERA. He will continue to play both roles this spring.

"Hayden's got good control," Scearcy said. "He always keeps you in the game. He doesn't get himself in trouble.

"Hayden played quite a bit at third base last year. He's a good glove man. He's real calm. He knows how to play the game. He doesn't make mental mistakes. He's going to be a real good player for us."

Madsen played short when Miller pitched last season and batted .242 with six RBIs and a double.

"Logan did a real nice job on defense," Scearcy said. "He's going to open at second base but he could move to short if somebody got hurt and we needed him to do it. His hitting appears to be much improved."


Evan Brecht got 34 at bats and played some center field along with pinch hitting and courtesy running in 2014.

"He's a solid outfielder," Scearcy said.

Juniors promoted from the VFW team include Colton Borg, Tristan Brecht, Hanson Devine, Jack Geraets, Allen Jevning, Jake Meyer, Jaden Miller and Chris Pederson.

"It's an excellent junior group, Scearcy said. "They've been strong coming up. They were very strong on the sophomore team last year, then they earned their way into the VFW state tournament last summer and did well. It was a good team plus about five kids in that class can pitch and that helps.

"We always start the year kind of giving the seniors a shot but our juniors are certainly going to play a lot."

Practice opened March 16 and the Warriors have capitalized on a relatively decent spring for a change by practicing outside virtually the entire time.

"We've only spent two maybe three days inside," Scearcy said. "We had some cold days and we were out there when it was 30 degrees a couple times. Maybe only one year were we outside earlier and that was about three years ago.

"How many times could we have played a game in March? We certainly could have this year."


After the opener at Sartell, the Warriors play their next five games at home but play only three more times at home the rest of the season.

"That's OK because I like to play on the road quite a bit late in the year because let's face it - a good share of our playoff games will be on the road so I don't have a problem with that," Scearcy said. "By the time we get to that point we should be able to go on the road and play well.

"If we're a good team, as far as I know, the pitcher's mound is the same distance in every park we play. We should be able to play well. I would rather play our later games away than our early games."

A position-by-position look at the Warriors:

Pitching: Tory Miller will be the No. 1 starter followed by Bukowski. Streiff is a right-hander and Paul Augustinack a senior left-hander. Augustinack pitched 1.2 innings with one victory last season.

Meyer, Pederson, Devine and Geraets pitched for the VFW.

"They pitched very well last summer," Scearcy said of the juniors, "and they've all looked good. We scrimmaged (March 28) and all four juniors I thought threw the ball very well. For the first time on the mound, the first time going against hitters, it was very encouraging."

Catcher: Senior Matt Casperson will start. He played sparingly behind the graduated Nate DeChaine. Jevning will be his backup.


First base: Seniors Jacob Russell and Augustinack are in the running along with Devine.

"If we started today, Jacob would be our first baseman," Scearcy said. "He's a very good defensive player and he's coming along as a hitter. He's working hard at it."

Second base: Madsen will start with Jaden Miller backing him up.

Shortstop: Tory Miller will start when he's not pitching. Tristan Brecht will play short when Miller pitches. Brecht hit cleanup for the VFW last summer.

Third base: Bukowski will start with Tristan Brecht or Devin playing third when Bukowski pitches.

Outfield: Scearcy said if the season started today Streiff would start in right, Evan Brecht in center and Augustinack in left.

Pushing for playing time are Meyer, who played center on the VFW team; Pederson who played right; Geraets who played left; and Borg.

"We have some very good juniors in the outfield so who knows what will take place along the way there," Scearcy said. "We've just got to make sure that all of them get to play."



Seniors: Paul Augustinack (p-of-1b), Evan Brecht (of), Hayden Bukowski (p-if), Matt Casperson (c), Logan Madsen (if), Tory Miller (p-if), Jacob Russell (if), Taylor Streiff (of-p)

Juniors: Colton Borg (of), Tristan Brecht (if), Hanson Devine (p-if), Jack Geraets (p-of), Allen Jevning (c), Jake Meyer (p-of), Jaden Miller (if), Chris Pederson (p-of)


April 7, at Sartell 5 p.m.

April 10, Willmar 5 p.m.

April 11, Bemidji 1 p.m.

April 14, St. Cloud Tech 5 p.m.

April 16, Rocori 5 p.m.

April 21, St. Cloud Apollo 4 p.m. (2)

April 23, at Roseville 4:30 p.m.

April 28, at Alexandria 4 p.m. (2)

April 30, Moorhead 5 p.m.

May 5, Grand Rapids 5 p.m.

May 7, at St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m.

May 8, at Rocori 5 p.m.

May 12, Sauk Rapids 4 p.m. (2)

May 15, at Monticello 5 p.m.

May 19, at Fergus Falls 4 p.m. (2)

May 21, at Bemidji 4:30 p.m.

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at or 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at .

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