KoMets reach top of HVL standings
Back toward the beginning of the season, the Kasson-Mantorville baseball team traveled to Lake City for its second game of the young schedule. Always believing it had the talent to compete with the best in the Hiawatha Valley League, the KoMets were a confident bunch as they looked to face the Tigers in their conference opener.
Unfortunately, things didn’t go the way of the KoMets that afternoon as they kicked the ball around in a 5-4 loss. For a game where the KoMets figured it should have gone their way, it may have served as a reality check for a young team.
“We’ve come a long way since that first Lake City game,” K-M baseball coach Matt Franke admitted. “Since that game, we’ve been able to practice outside, get in a routine and play better baseball. I think we are coming into games mentally ready now and that was an area we needed to work on from the first few games.”
The Lake City game may have served as a turning point for KoMets this season as they have responded with a 9-1 record since to climb their way to the top of the HVL standings after a nice victory over Kenyon-Wanamingo on May 4.
The KoMets and Knights came into the game with identical conference records and were looking to claim their right to sit at the top of the conference. With a solid pitching battle on the mound between Brendan Knoll and Gavin Roosen, both teams knew that runs would be critical early in the contest.
But, Roosen’s control would leave him throughout the game and he walked in the game’s first run in the second inning to give K-M the early advantage. After walking Ben Kinney to open the third inning, Jacob Bulger would slam a two-run homer to open up a 3-0 lead.
That would be more than enough for Knoll, who was dominant on the mound allowing just two hits and a couple walks while striking out six in a complete game shutout. Matt Winkle would hit his first varsity home run in the fifth inning and drive in another in the sixth while Easton Knoll would deliver a two RBIs with his first varsity hit as the KoMets cruised to an 8-0 victory.
The following afternoon, the KoMets would return home to make up a rained out game against Zumbrota-Mazeppa earlier in the week. K-M never took their foot off the gas in this one striking for four runs in the first inning and nine in the second inning. Jacob Bulger (3-for-3, 2B, R, 4 RBI), Jacob Gruber (2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, RBI) and Sam Dvorak (2-for-3, 2 R) all had big days at the plate as the KoMets crushed the Cougars in a 13-3 rout in five innings.
“I think our team’s confidence is beginning to grow,” Franke observed. “We try to have as much game-like situations in practice as we can and that makes them comfortable and gives them a good chance to succeed. I think with that comes a sense of confidence.”
Such confidence made it a full-circle occurrence when K-M took on Lake City on Monday afternoon as the KoMets entered the game with a 9-3 record (9-2 HVL). They’ll continue their conference schedule with a double header in Byron on Saturday morning before traveling to Stewartville on May 15 to open the final week of the regular season.