EVELETH — If one thing is for certain, it’s that recent Eveleth-Gilbert graduate Brandon Lind is a “lead by example” kind of player.
The ace of the Bears pitching staff, a rock solid centerfielder and a hitter that manages to make the best out of a bad situation, Lind has everything a coach could want in a high school baseball player. With the stats to back up his All-Conference, All-Section and All-State selections this year, Lind has left a veritable mark on the Eveleth-Gilbert program.
Just before his senior season started this past March, Lind and his teammates knew this year’s team could do some special things. Ousting No. 1 seeds while staring elimination in the face, the Bears made it all the way to the section championship at Wade Stadium. They fell just short of a state berth, but Lind wanted to make sure his final season as an Eveleth-Gilbert athlete was exciting and worthwhile and by any metric. It was.
“As a senior, I just wanted to bounce back,” Lind said, referring to the cancellation of the 2020 spring season. “I wanted to have some fun this year and play my best. I had a great team behind me when I pitched and it just made it a really fun season.”
On the mound, Lind did more than bounce back, pitching 61.1 innings for E-G, -- more than double the next highest on the team -- recording a 7-2 record while being a perfect 4-4 in save opportunities. He struck out 78 batters and his opponents hit just .215 off of him.
According to Bears head coach Jamie Lindseth, the numbers only tell half the story when it comes to Lind.
“We’ve had a nice run these last couple of years as a program,” Lindseth said. “But I tell our guys all the time that just showing up at the ballpark is not enough. Brandon Lind is one of the rare kids that will ask you for help and ask for extra reps. He’ll do everything he can to get better every single day.
“We talk a lot about heart. It’s something you can’t create. You can create baseball players but the kids who have heart are a step above. They’re once in a lifetime kids. Brandon is one of those once in a lifetime kids.”
Playing the game from a young age, Lind figures he started the game around the age of 4 or 5. It was fun at first, but he really fell in love with the game after realizing he was pretty good at it.
“You start at that young age,” Lind said. “Whether it’s learning with T-ball or playing with my friends in West Eveleth. I really got into it when I noticed I was pretty decent at it. That kept me playing and made it fun. The people around me made it a lot of fun as well.”
Also a standout hockey player, Lind had to make a choice on which sport he wanted to continue on with. He decided it would be baseball and is set to join Mesabi Range College beginning next season. He hopes to eventually play for a four-year school. After missing out on the 2020 spring season, Lind said it made his senior season that much more important in order to get some recognition.
“I think I really found my game this year and that kind of motivated me to want to keep going. Not having stats to pull from last year meant I had to make up for it this year if I wanted to get my name out there.”
His coach believes his potential has yet to be fully realized.
“The sky’s the limit for this young man,” Lindseth said. “He’ll get some college ball under his belt and he has goals of playing somewhere after Mesabi and I would be very surprised if he didn’t. His baseball IQ is off the charts. He might not be the first one to tell you what he can do, but he’ll certainly go up on that pitcher’s mound and show you.”
“I don’t know if he believed he could play at that next level. But every game we played this year, every team would look at the lineup card to see if Brandon was pitching against them. They knew about Brandon. He was our guy and he came into that role and did wonderfully in it and really brought his game to the next level.”
Aside from being an outstanding pitcher, Lindseth also complimented his fielding abilities out in center field.
Two years ago, I probably wouldn’t have put him in center field. Back then he lacked a little in speed but he made up for it with great angles and getting good jumps on the ball. Now speed is definitely not an issue for him and his game has changed so much that he’s a very good center fielder now.”
When it comes to the Eveleth-Gilbert players still learning and finding their own way in the game of baseball, Lind says he’s happy to be the guy that leads by example.
“There were a lot of struggles for us as a team. A lot of our older guys had to be so mentally focused, especially during the playoffs in the spring. You had to be ready. When it comes to leading, my role is to lead by example on the field. I want to do what I can out there and hopefully those younger guys will look up to me and follow what I do.”
His coach acknowledged that Lind wasn’t the most vocal player, but says the younger players can get so much just by watching the way he works.
“You have to get the younger guys to pay attention to a player like Brandon,” Lindseth said. “Look at the little things he’s doing, how he’s holding on to runners or how he has two or three different pick off moves. Look at what he’s doing and just learn.”
Graduating with four other seniors, Lind says his classmates on the team are some of his best friends, something that made this season even more special.
“All four of those guys are good friends of mine. It was great to be with them every day. It’s tough going into a senior season with how much you talk about what you want to do but I think we still did a pretty good job out there this year. We made it as far as we did and put up 14 runs on Aitkin in that first game and I think it shows how good we were or how good we could have been.”
The loss of Lind and the other four seniors means there will be some shoes to be filled on next year’s squad. Lindseth believes the program as a whole is without a doubt in a better place now compared to when Lind and his classmates were just starting out.
“You can’t ask for more out of a kid except to give it all they got and I think Brandon and a lot of his classmates did that. They won at so many levels: Majors, Minors, Babe Ruth. This group has continued to perform even with other teams gunning for them. It’s safe to say Brandon has left our program better than when he got here.”
On his journey so far, Lind says a lot of the credit has to go to his coaches, as well as his parents.
“Jamie’s a great coach,” Lind said. “Every day he pushed me and helped make me the player I am today. All of the coaches have helped do that.
“My family is important too. They watch every single one of my games no matter where they are and it means a lot to have their support.”
In addition to Lind, the All-Iron Range baseball team includes: Will Bittmann, Andrew Torrel and Jake Sickel of Eveleth-Gilbert; Beau Barry of Cherry; Jude Sundquist of Chisholm; Will Davies of Ely; Kyle Henke, Myles Gunderson and Kodi Miller of Grand Rapids; Joe Allison of Hibbing; Gaige Waldvogel of Nashwauk-Keewatin; Zach Cheney and Andrew Zika of North Woods; Elliot Levens of Northeast Range and Tom Nemanich, Dan Moore and Mason Carlson of Virginia.