Prep Baseball: Monte's Field of Dreams
MINNEAPOLIS - Right before stepping on the U.S. Bank Stadium field on Monday morning, Montevideo senior Jake Mundt reminded teammate Derek Kilibarda of the footsteps they were about to follow.
"I told him coming in here, I said 'Adrian Peterson has stepped right here,'" Mundt said
Mundt, a lifelong Vikings fan, couldn't contain his excitement.
"He was fan-boying hard," Kilibarda said.
Mundt wasn't the only one in awe, though. Kilibarda caught himself looking around the stadium wide-eyed with the rest of his teammates prior to Monday's 10-2 loss to Pipestone.
"It was amazing," Kilibarda said. "Definitely just walking out and seeing the whole stadium was pretty impressive."
The enormity of the building created a nervous energy for the team according to Kilibarda but it didn't slow them down in the beginning. The Thunder Hawks put up the game's first run in the first inning on senior first baseman Ian Jahn's RBI single. Defensively, Jahn also made a diving catch in foul territory.
Despite the early success, the Thunder Hawks also quickly learned the dangers of playing in a big stadium.
"It was kind of hard to play the ball because it's much bigger so you think it's going to be short and it carries over your head or your hit goes farther," Kilibarda said.
The Arrows were able to take advantage of a few balls that carried over outfielders heads in the third inning where they put up five runs to take a 6-1 lead. Pipestone finished the game with four triples.
Christian Kanten went 2-for-3 with a run scored but took the loss in the varsity game that was sandwiched between a pair of junior varsity scrimmages. Mundt and Kilibarda also each pitched an inning and said that memory will stick with them for quite some time.
"Pitching was awesome," said Kilibarda who threw a scoreless fifth inning. "Just to get in the middle of all of it was pretty special. It's actually a little easier pitching on the turf because it's all made for you. It's just ready to go."
The mound wasn't the only place the Thunder Hawks felt like big shots. The team spent the previous night in a hotel and experienced the professional player treatment by driving into the stadium and hitting in batting cages in the tunnels.
"I could get used to it," Mundt said with a laugh. "It's pretty great."
Montevideo's head coach Tim Epema was eager to get his team to experience the heightened stage. Regardless of the outcome Epema said he thinks there's a lot of valuable memories to take away.
"Seeing the kids come in and right away, they look up and they were amazed at the size of it," Epema said. "They've seen it on TV, a couple of kids have been to Vikings games and things like that. Just the experience to get down here and play where professional athletes play is something that they'll have memories of for the rest of their lives."
The game was full of memories but Mundt also thinks the game will help the Thunder Hawks long-term.
"I think in bigger situations it'll keep us more calm because we were here and we got that out of us so we can focus on what we need to do," Mundt said.
Kilibarda and Epema also agree that it brings the team closer together.
"To me, that's the biggest part of it, is team bonding and camaraderie," Epema said. "But then you're getting to come into a facility like this is just amazing. I appreciate the Vikings opening this up and allowing this to happen, it's great for the kids."
Pipestone 10, Montevideo 2
Montevideo 100 001 0-2 6 1
Pipestone 015 103 x-10 9 1
Hitting - Montevideo: Christian Kanten 2-3 r, Derek Kilibarda 1-4, Ian Jahn 1-3, Jackson Snell 1-2 r, John VanRavenswaay 1-1, Jake Mundt 0-3 rbi ... Pipestone: Billy Olsen 2-4 rbi-2 r, Garrett Ploeger 1-2 3b r-2, Mitchell Bobendrier 1-3 3b rbi-4
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Montevideo: Kanten (L) 3-5-6-1-1-3, Mundt 1-2-1-1-1-1, Kilibarda 1-0-0-0-0-1, S Kuno 1-2-3-3-1-1 ... Pipestone: McKinley Bush 3-2-1-1-3-3, Bobendrier 2-2-0-0-0-1, Carter Colemer 2-2-1-1-0-1