Slow Starts bury KoMets against Tigers
If there was a word to describe how the 2018 high school baseball season has gone, there’s a good chance that word wouldn’t be consistent. With a schedule that has been compacted into four weeks and teams that have been forced to practice indoors for the first six weeks of the season, there hasn’t been much times for teams to find a groove and start playing at their best.
While all teams have had to deal with the same conditions, the Kasson- Mantorville baseball team has found difficulty in playing at a high level every night for nine innings. Last week, those struggles showed after being swept in a doubleheader against Lake City, but the KoMets bounced back nicely in a win at Goodhue.
“I think a lack of practice with the condensed schedule is one reason for some inconsistencies,” K-M baseball head coach Matt Franke said. “We have one day of practice here and there and it is hard to get in a rhythm when it is constant games.”
The week began on May 7 when the KoMets hosted the Tigers as part of a divisional doubleheader. K-M got off to a great start in the first game when Easton Knoll led off the game with a double and Jack Bratlien followed up with a single. Darian Head would drive in Knoll with a sacrifice fly and Matt Winkle would lace an RBI single to help give the KoMets an early 2-0 lead. Unfortunately, that would be the only bit of offense the KoMets would see in the first game as Lake City would claw their way back and blow the game open with seven runs in the fourth inning to claim a 10-2 victory.
K-M would have an opportunity to bounce back in the second game, but the KoMets would get off to another slow start, which has been a troubling trend this season. Lake City would pounce on K-M with a fourrun first inning and added another in the second before Winkle would plate a pair of runs on an RBI single in the third inning to make it a 5-2 game.
Despite the KoMets’ efforts to get back into it, Lake City would keep pouring it on with two runs in the third and three in the fourth to put the game out of reach. The KoMets would mount a last stand with three runs coming in the fifth from RBIs from Jacob Bulger, Kasey Kersting and Brendan Knutson, but it was too much ground to cover in a 10-5 defeat.
“The reason for our slow starts in the past few games has been a lack of mental preparation,” Franke said. “We are not too focused and ready to play ball until it is the third or fourth inning. By that time, it is too late and we are trying to dig ourselves out of a hole.”
The KoMets would take their coach’s message to heart in the final game last week, a trip to Goodhue on May 9. K-M would come out of the gate firing as Knoll would score on a RBI single from Matt Winkle and Head would score on a single from Jacob Bulger to gain an early 2-0 lead from which the KoMets would never look back.
K-M would crank out 15 hits on the afternoon including three from Winkle and Ben Kinney and two more from Head. That type of support was more than enough for Bratlien on the mound, who threw a complete game shutout scattering five hits along with a walk and nine strikeouts to give the KoMets a 9-0 victory.
“The Goodhue game was the first time the guys were into the game in the dugout,”Franke said. “The guys were focused and having fun. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we played well either.”
Heading into the final week of the regular season, the KoMets sit at 5-6 and have a busy week beginning with their doubleheader against Byron on Monday and a home contest with Triton on Wednesday. After hosting Rochester Lourdes on Thursday night, the KoMets will head to the Delano Wood Bat Tournament this weekend to face some Class AAA competition before wrapping up the regular season on May 21 at Zumbrota-Mazeppa.