By Joel Lidstrom
Special to the Caledonia Argus
The Caledonia Legion Baseball team began its season with a Monday-night win over Chatfield fueled by excellent pitching and timely hitting. Former Caledonia High School pitching standout Ryan Frank kept the Chatfield batters off guard, using his excellent curveball as a foil for his fastball.
Ryan said before the game, “I throw a lot of junk, and prefer to stay away from the fastball.”
But throw the fastball he did, forcing batters to guess — and often badly — notching eight strikeouts over six innings of work.
Buoyed by Frank’s 1-2-3 top half of the first inning, Caledonia parlayed a combination of walks, hard-hit balls and steals for two runs in the bottom half. After Josh Lampert walked and stole second, Tanner Langen drove him home with a towering double to center field. Langen advanced to third on catcher Travis Frank’s single, and scored on a heads-up bolt home on Travis’ successful steal of second.
While Ryan Frank continued to dominate, Chatfield’s pitchers could not find their groove. In the third inning, after singles by T.J. Schultz and Harrison Speltz and a Seth Twite walk, Justin Burg fell behind 0-2 before ripping a ball double deep to left-center, clearing the bases and giving Caledonia a commanding 5-0 lead. They tacked on another run in the fifth as Schultz’s groundball “with eyes” glanced past the shortstop’s glove, Travis Frank hit a line-drive single, and Speltz erupted with a double to the right-center gap, scoring Schultz.
Chatfield managed only two runs, one in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly (the runner was safe despite Seth Twite’s tremendous throw home) and another in the top of the seventh on a passed ball, after Kai Lidstrom had come in to close out the game. But the outcome was never in doubt.
Coach Brian Langen, in his first year as Legion manager (but hardly a rookie to those who follow Caledonia baseball), notched his first win with praise for his players.
“I believe in these kids, and when you believe in your players, they believe in themselves.”
Next up is a non-conference, away-game match up with Bangor, Wis. followed by a home game against Lewiston-Altura on Thursday, June 13.