The New London-Spicer Twins and the Bird Island Bullfrogs are pleased to be among the final 16 teams alive in the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament, and the members of both teams are determined to make themselves even happier by reaching the final eight.
"We've excited," said Twins manager Jamie Scheevel, whose 19-7 team plays Green Isle at 1:30 p.m. today at Joe Faber Field at St. Cloud's Municipal Athletic Complex. "We're planning on riding the ride as long as we possibly can. It's nice because if you look from the start of the season to the way we're playing now, it's night and day. It's nice to be playing our best baseball right now."
The Bullfrogs, 21-13, play Fairmont at 11 a.m. today at the MAC's Dick Putz Field. The state tournament web site incorrectly listed the game time as 11:30 a.m. after Bird Island received approval from the state board to move the game ahead, said manager Mike Nagel.
The Bullfrogs will be short-handed but Nagel said all teams have some obstacles to overcome this late in the season.
"You line up your team and hope the baseball Gods are with you," Nagel said. "We'll just go out there and hit the ball, pitch the ball and catch the ball and hope it all turns out right."
Bird Island will start draftee Matt Geislinger today, with fellow draftees Adam Theis and Mitch Denny in the bullpen. Ace Jesse Bjur is slated to start Sunday if the Bullfrogs advance, Nagel said.
The Bullfrogs are playing in their first tournament since 1998, but while that's a source of pride for the team, it's not considered enough, Nagel said.
"To be where we're at, we couldn't be happier," Nagel said. "We finished in the middle of the pack in our league (Cornbelt) so to be playing on the last weekend of the season, it's almost surreal. But we're not happy just to be here -- we'll do everything we can to keep winning."
The Twins have won eight straight games and they, too, are determined to keep their season alive as long as possible, despite going into today's game with just 10 players.
Draftee Brad Mergen will start against Green Isle, and Scheevel said pitching decisions will be made if the Twins move on. The Twins will be missing Nathaniel Swoyer, who plays with the Ridgewater football team today, and Caleb Frederick, who is an assistant football coach at Concordia-Moorhead.
"It'll be interesting," Scheevel said. "We're kind of in the underdog role (Green Isle won the 2003 Class C state championship), but we've been in that position before. Our guys are locked in right now. They're low-key and treating it as just another game, but they're ready."