EVELETH — The Eveleth-Gilbert American Legion baseball team has been waiting to find themselves at full strength all season long. Today’s substate opener with Wadena looks to be their first chance to do that.
Earning the six-seed in the district playoffs, Post 138 will take on No. 3 Wadena in their opener. Missing out on players for one reason or another from the beginning of the season until now, E-G head coach Jamie Lindseth believes his squad can play some pretty great baseball when all the pieces are together.
“We’re excited to get back to what feels like normal for us,” Lindseth said. “Andrew Torrel was gone for the play-in games. Carter Flannigan has been out injured since the spring season. Both of them will be there ready to go on Wednesday and having their experience on a relatively young team will be very helpful.”
As always for the Bears, the goal is to make a run in the postseason, something their program has had some success doing the last few years.
“We always come in with the attitude of going as far as we can and winning some games. We have quite a few younger guys playing and there are days where things come easy for us and days where they don’t come easy.
“I don’t like using the ‘young players’ excuse as a crutch, but it’s just the reality that we have for our team right now.”
With that being the case, Lindseth says it’ll be important for his team to rely on the more veteran players like Torrel, Flannigan, Will Bittmann and Brandon Lind.
“We don’t usually get our entire varsity team out for summer but that allows us to give opportunities to some of these kids. The young ones get to play with the more experienced ones and it’s a great way for them to learn and feed off of each other.”
Looking back at their play-in weekend, the Bears fell to Ely 4-1 before securing their spot at the substate tournament with a 9-3 win over Barnum. Lindseth says both games were solid experiences for his team getting their feet wet in playoff baseball.
“We had a little room in the second game to putz around a little bit and get everybody in the game. Everyone’s gotten to play and everyone has seen the field which is what we want. In our first game with Ely, we were in it and maybe things would go the other way if we made a few more plays, but it was nothing to hang our heads over.”
Looking at their opponent in Wadena, Lindseth doesn’t know a whole lot about them. And with his coaching style, that may be for the best.
“This is the case where I can say I have no idea. I don’t know what to expect. We’re going to go in with our game plan and see what happens. My coaching staff will at times roll their eyes at me because I have never worried about the other team. My belief is to watch your own bobber and take care of your own.
“I know they have a nice club, but I couldn’t tell you anything more about them when it comes to their hitting, pitching, records or what kids they have. From a preparation standpoint, we’re preparing to play to our strengths.”
Next to enacting their gameplan to the best of their abilities, Lindseth has just one concern for his team as they get ready to start the substate tournament.
“Just have some fun. That’s the most important thing. These guys get to play baseball with their friends so I hope they have fun. We still have our plan and we want to execute it as best we can, but at the end of the day, let’s have some fun.”
Eveleth-Gilbert and Wadena will do battle tonight at 5 p.m. in Marble. Win or lose, Post 138 will play again on Friday in either Marble or Nashwauk.