Statistically, it could have been better.
But not much.
Upsala-Swanville Area senior Eric Lampert faced 22 batters his first start of the year, retiring 21 of them.
And 17 of those 21 outs were strike outs, with only an infield single by Royalton senior Cade Stang standing in the way of perfection.
With more than enough offensive support behind Lampert, the Patriots shut out the host Royals 6-0 in the season opener for both teams, April 10.
“I would have to say it’s pretty dang rare to strike out 17 batters in a seven-inning game,” Upsala-Swanville head coach Adam Gerads said. “It’s equivalent to 21-22 Ks (strike outs) in a nine-inning game, and those are few and far between. To do it with no walks and just an infield single makes it even more impressive. That performance will be very difficult to top.”
Lampert also had a big afternoon at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.
While impressed, Gerads wasn’t shocked by the gaudy performance delivered right off the bat.
“I wasn’t really surprised on how well he threw the first time out,” Gerads said. “He has been throwing since February, and has been throwing off the mound for quite some time now.”
The scary part according to his coach is that Lampert can, perhaps, get even stronger as the season progresses.
“He can throw better,” Gerads said. “He usually throws more strikes. He actually had a few more three-ball counts then he usually does, but it was the first game of the year. You really can’t ask for much more than what he did.”
Sophomore Justin Cichon reached base four times, stole four bags and scored four runs at the top of the lineup, with junior Austin Johnson delivering a pair of hits and two RBIs, junior Tyler Evans getting aboard three times and junior Kyle Soltis hitting a double.
Royalton sophomore Parker Brezinka only allowed two runs in 4 1/3 innings of relief.
Big innings lead Huskers past Patriots 13-3
Upsala-Swanville met up with Holdingford the following day, falling 13-3 in six innings as the Huskers used six-run outbursts in the second and sixth innings to win their season opener, April 11.
All nine starters for Holdingford came across to score in the game, with four producing multi-hit afternoons.
Senior Jake Nelson led the way, going 3-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs, while seniors Mitch Merten, Mitch Messman and Jordan Gombos each had two hits and knocked in a pair of runs.
Nelson also earned the win on the mound, tossing four shutout innings and allowing just one hit with no walks.
Freshman Myron Ripplinger went 2-for-2 and drove in a run and Cichon reached base twice and scored for the Patriots.
BBE spoils Patriots’ strong start with late rally
After being shut down for six innings, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (BBE) erupted with a six-run seventh to overtake visiting Upsala-Swanville 6-5, Tuesday.
The Patriots took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on RBIs from Soltis and Cichon, then tacked on three more runs in the sixth on hits from senior Dylan Zimmerman, Evans, Soltis and Cichon.
However, the Jaguars stormed back in their final at bat, using four walks, a hit batter, three hits and an error to plate all six of their runs.
Cichon worked the first 6 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs on two hits while striking out three.
Cichon, Evans, Soltis and Zimmerman had two hits apiece, junior Chase Douvier had a hit and a run and Lampert reached base three times.
Flyers drop first two
Little Falls had little time to ease into its season, matching up with three-time defending top-three state placer St. Cloud Cathedral, April 10.
The host Crusaders, riding four innings from University of Minnesota signee Jeff Fasching, no-hit the Flyers in a 10-0, five-inning shutout.
Senior Alec Zack drew a couple of walks and senior Michael Fregin stole a base.
Little Falls had a better showing its second outing of the season, but couldn’t click in all phases as it fell 4-2 at Zimmerman, Tuesday.
The Flyers got on the board in the top of the first after sophomore Thomas Miller singled, stole second and third and scored on a base hit by junior Bryce Zawatzke, but Zimmerman answered right back with two runs in the bottom of the inning.
Trailing 4-1 in the fourth, junior Jeremy Klein led off with a single and came around to score, but the Flyers couldn’t pull any closer.
Junior Adam Hallberg held the Thunder to one earned run over three innings and senior Kyle Boser pitched three shutout innings to close the game, striking out six.
The Flyers were hampered by four errors in the field and eight runners left on base.