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High School Baseball: Warriors hope to benefit from additional week of conditioning

For the first time, Minnesota State High School League baseball teams were allowed to open practice this season for up to five additional days a week before they would normally start their workouts. Beginning March 12, five days this year were to...

Brainerd’s Eric Martin (left) Alex Haapajoki and Colin Kleffman warm up with throws and catches during practice at Brainerd High School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Brainerd’s Eric Martin (left) Alex Haapajoki and Colin Kleffman warm up with throws and catches during practice at Brainerd High School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

 

For the first time, Minnesota State High School League baseball teams were allowed to open practice this season for up to five additional days a week before they would normally start their workouts.

Beginning March 12, five days this year were to be used for conditioning arms and overall physical conditioning, and were to be conducted using only baseballs, gloves, and catcher's equipment. Regular practice began March 19.

Brainerd HIgh School head coach Lowell Scearcy, whose Warriors are scheduled to open the season Thursday, April 5, at St. Cloud Tech, said baseball coaches for years have been asking for an extra week of throwing and conditioning.

"Basically the high school league gave us a week this year for arm conditioning and also for general conditioning for anybody," Scearcy said. "You could not use a bat. We played catch, did some running, did some baserunning stuff, that was basically it, but it was a good thing."

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Scearcy, who begins his 49th season as a head coach and has attained the second-most wins (751) in MSHSL baseball history, returns five full- or part-time starters from a team that finished 14-10. Last year's Warriors upset fourth-seeded Rogers and top-seeded and eventual Section 8-4A champion St. Michael-Albertville in the first two games of the playoffs before bowing out after losses to No. 2 Maple Grove and StMA.

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Baseball

  • Head coach: Lowell Scearcy, 49th year (3 at Verndale, 46 at Brainerd)
  • Career record: 751-311 (.707)
  • Record at Brainerd: 713-303 (.702)
  • 2017 record: 11-5 CLC, 14-10 overall
  • Returning starters: McCale Peterson, Max Boran, Colin Kleffman, Chris Karels, Sam Miller
  • Assistant coaches: Keith Peterson (V), Jay Sannes (sophomores), Drew Boland (sophomores), Russ Wicklund (freshmen), Jace Marcelo (freshmen).

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"I'm optimistic," Scearcy said, "and for guys who know me that's big for me to say that. I like this group of kids. We have a lot of returning starters. We have a very good senior class and that's a big thing always.

"We're looking for good things from this group. As always, it will come down to pitching. I think we will play pretty good defense. If some of our kids, who didn't get to play a lot last year, give us some offense or production, I think we will be able to score some runs."

Seniors McCale Peterson, Max Boran, Chris Karels and Colin Kleffman head the list of returning starters along with junior Sam Miller.

Peterson, an All-Central Lakes Conference selection, led the team in hitting with a .406 average. His 18 RBIs and three home runs also were team highs. He struck out only five times and also was one of the team's top two pitchers with a 7-2 record and 3.45 ERA.

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"McCale's a very gifted baseball player," Scearcy said. "He finished the season as our top pitcher. He probably will start that way again this year. When he's not pitching, he will play shortstop."

Boran, another All-CLC selection, hit .284 with 12 RBIs. On the mound, he was 0-3 with a 3.96 ERA.

"Max started last year in the outfield and finished the season being our No. 3 pitcher," Scearcy said. "He will probably open in center field this year although he can also catch. He will be one of our 2-3 top pitchers I'm sure. ... This year we're counting on him for more leadership."

Karels batted .270 with five RBIs.

"Chris broke into the starting lineup about midseason last year in left field and played well the rest of the way," Scearcy said. "He's a good outfielder. He's got excellent hand-eye coordination. We're counting on him being one of our top hitters."

Kleffman hit .221 with 10 RBIs and 10 walks. In addition, he was 1-0 on the hill in 11.2 innings and compiled a spotless 0.00 ERA.

"Last year Colin played third base extensively all year," Scearcy said. "This year, we're trying to move him to second base which I think he will be better suited for. He's also going to be one of our top 4-5 pitchers and will probably be one of the top four hitters in our lineup (with Peterson, Boran and Karels)."

A left-handed batter, Miller had only 18 plate appearances in 2017 and pitched two innings.

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"Sam was kind of our (Eduardo) Escobar you could say last year," Scearcy said. "He did a little bit of pitching but mainly he filled in for whoever was pitching. He moved to short when McCale was pitching. He moved to third base when Kleffman was pitching.

"He could play all infield spots and play them well. This year, Sam will be in the lineup every day at one place or another. He will probably start at third base and move to short when McCale's pitching."

Miller is recovering from a dislocated right shoulder suffered in Week 6 of the football season.

"The arm that he injured in football appears to be in good shape," Scearcy said. "We've been starting him kind of slow with throwing, but he's responding pretty well. So far, knock on wood, it's been fine."

Other seniors Scearcy expects to make contributions include catcher David Benson, who's also working at first base and on the mound, first baseman Alex Haapajoki, pitcher-infielder-outfielder Bryce McConville and outfielder-pitcher Hunter Wicklund. In 2017, Wicklund had 17 at bats, Haapajoki 12, Benson five and McConville none. Benson pitched one inning last season.

 

Warriors roster

Seniors: David Benson C-P, Max Boran P-OF, Alex Haapajoki 1B, Chris Karels OF, Colin Kleffman P-2B, Bryce McConville P-IF, McCale Peterson P-SS, Trystan Richardt 2B-OF, Eli Sundquist 2B, Hunter Wicklund OF

Juniors: Brady Anderson P-IF, Renzen Caughey OF-2B, Josh Hukriede C, Ben Jones OF, Eric Martin P-IF, Bailey McMahon 1B-P, Sam Miller P-IF

 

Warriors schedule

Thursday, April 5, at St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m.

Tuesday, April 10, at Cloquet 4:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 12, at Moorhead 5 p.m.

Tuesday, April 17, Fergus Falls 4 p.m. (2)

Thursday, April 19, Duluth East 5 p.m.

Tuesday, April 24, at St. Cloud Apollo 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 26, Alexandria 5 p.m.

Friday, April 27, Sauk Rapids-Rice 5 p.m.

Tuesday, May 1, at Sartell 4 p.m. (2)

Friday, May 4, St. Cloud Tech 5 p.m.

Monday, May 7, Bemidji 4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 8, Willmar 5 p.m.

Thursday, May 10, St. Michael-Albertville 5 p.m.

Tuesday, May 15, at Sauk Rapids-Rice 5 p.m.

Thursday, May 17, St. Cloud Apollo 5 p.m.

Tuesday, May 22, at Rocori 5 p.m.

Thursday, May 24, at Alexandria 5 p.m.

Related Topics: BRAINERD WARRIORS
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