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Amateur Baseball: A Rocket romp

Raymond, Lotthammer shut down Sacred Heart

051721.S.WCT.Raymond amateurBB Alex Lotthammer.jpg
Raymond pitcher Alex Lotthammer first off a throw during a Corn Belt League game against Sacred Heart on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at Lilleberg Field in Raymond. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

RAYMOND — The past few seasons have seen Alex Lotthammer deal with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a bone infection that nearly cost him his left leg and a bout of COVID-19 last summer.

A move to Minneapolis amplified the issues involved with continuing his amateur baseball career with the Raymond Rockets . Then, there is the changing dynamics of the roster. It’s a lot different than when Raymond sat atop the Class C amateur baseball world in 2016.

“I’m just loyal to Raymond,” Lotthammer said Sunday.

The Rockets certainly enjoy his presence on the mound. The 32-year-old left-hander led Raymond to a 13-1, seven-inning Corn Belt League win over the Sacred Heart Saints at Lilleberg Field.

“When we play Sacred Heart it can be a nail-biter,” Rockets manager Butch Steen said. “We always expect that.

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“And that (Jack) Howard (the Saints’ starter) has potential. He just dug a hole right away.”

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Raymond's Justin Koenen connects with the ball for a home run in a Corn Belt League game against Sacred Heart on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at Lilleberg Field in Raymond. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Raymond scored five in the first and never looked back.

Meanwhile, Lotthammer pitched like the ace he has been for the Rockets since coming back to the area after three seasons with the Sartell Stone Poneys.

“The team has changed quite a bit,” Lotthammer said. “In 2016, we were mostly all guys my age.

“But people started having babies and stuff.”

The Rockets have a mix of veterans like Mike Jeseritz, Eric Hulterstrum and Tyler Steen and high-school-age guys like Eli Nelson, Isaac Call, Brady Kienitz and Brooks Asche. All played Sunday. It has worked well so far. Raymond is 3-1 and looking like one of the Corn Belt’s top teams again.

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“With the young guys, I was skeptical at first about how it would work out,” Lotthammer said. “But it’s working. We’re meshing not too bad.”

Lotthammer went six innings, striking out 11 and walking one. He allowed one hit, a solid single to center by Ryan Hebrink with two outs in the sixth.

“It went well,” said Lotthammer, a Willmar High School graduate who played at St. Cloud Technical & Community College (when he played at Sartell) and Mayville (North Dakota) State. “Tyler (Steen, the catcher) knows how to call games.
“How many times have I shook you off over the years?” Lotthammer asked Tyler Steen. “Five times?”
“We don’t do it that often,” Tyler Steen said. “We don’t give up a lot of hits that way.”

051721.S.WCT.Sacred Heart amateurBB Ryan Hebrink.jpg
Sacred Heart shortstop Ryan Hebrink reaches back to snag a ground ball during a Corn Belt League game against Raymond on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at Lilleberg Field in Raymond. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Since 2016, Lotthammer has had some injury issues. First it was ACL surgery. Then, it was a bone infection in 2019.
“I almost lost my leg,” he said.

He overcame it, of course, and feels fine. But he caught COVID in 2020 and missed a chunk of the abbreviated amateur baseball season, which didn’t get underway until the end of June.

“I had some respiratory problems for a while,” he said. “It wasn’t good. My dad and my girlfriend got it, too.”

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He’s over that, as well. He has been working out hard and is in great shape. He hopes it translates into another great season for himself and the Rockets.

Raymond had a good day Sunday. Tyler Steen and Justin Koenen each homered. Jeseritz, Tyler Steen and John Sawatzky had two hits and the young guys looked good, too. Asaiah Smith, Eli Nelson and Call all had hits, with Call knocking an RBI triple. Kienitz had a run and an RBI.

Butch Steen, the veteran manager, was pleased.

“We haven’t been hitting real well,” he said. “Marshall shut us down big time.

“It was nice to see the young guys hitting. They’re good-hitting kids. We’ve got some good-looking kids. It’s going to be hard to fill out a lineup.”

Raymond plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against the Milroy Yankees. Then, the Rockets play at 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Willmar against the Rails.

Sacred Heart (1-1), which opened with a 10-7 win over the Milroy Irish, have a home game at 8 p.m. Friday against the Spring Hill Chargers of the Stearns County League. The Saints then play host to the Milroy Yankees at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

051721.S.WCT.Raymond amateurBB Eric Hulterstrum.jpg
Raymond second baseman Eric Hulterstrum looks in a fly ball for an out during a Corn Belt League game against Sacred Heart on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at Lilleberg Field in Raymond. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Raymond 13,
Sacred Heart 1

Sacred Heart 000 000 1- 1 3 1
Raymond 501 421 x-13 11 1
Hitting - Sacred Heart: Ryan Hebrink 1-3, Jeremy Hinderks 0-1 r bb-2, Josh Davis 1-1, Jean Morales 0-2 bb, Kevin Strommer 1-3 rbi … Raymond: Mike Jeseritz 2-4 r-2, Eric Hulterstrum 0-1 r bb hbp, Asaiah Smith 1-1 r, Tyler Steen 2-3 hr r-2 rbi-4 bb, John Sawatzky 2-4 rbi-2, Caleb Ditmarson 0-4 r rbi, Justin Koenen 1-3 hr r rbi, Andy Schultz 0-0 r bb, Eli Nelson 1-4 r rbi, Isaac Call 1-1 3b rbi, Brady Kienitz 0-2 r rbi bb.

Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Sacred Heart: Jack Howard (L) 3-7-10-9-3-2, Hinderks 3-4-2-2-1-1 … Raymond: Alex Lotthammer (W) 6-1-0-0-1-11, Zach Nelson 1-2-1-1-2-2.

051721.S.WCT.Sacred Heart amateurBB Jack Howard.jpg
Sacred Heart's Jack Howard takes a swing at a pitch during a Corn Belt League game against Raymond on Sunday, May 16, 2021 at Lilleberg Field in Raymond. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

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