All-Area Baseball: Upperclassmen make up bulk of All-Area roster
Michael Bigelbach (Jr., Red Wing)
Seeing time all around the infield, Red Wing junior Michael Bigelbach proved to be one of the Wingers’ most versatile players in 2013.
On offense, Bigelbach put together a .288 average with 15 hits, and had a .519 slugging percentage, which was second best on the team. Bigelbach also had 11 runs, four doubles, a triple and a team-leading two home runs on the way to All-Missota Conference honors.
Bigelbach also had four starts on the mound, piecing together a 2.55 ERA in 22 innings as the Wingers went 6-11 overall.
“Michael was one of our most consistent offensive performers this year in addition to being someone we could count on to throw consistent strikes,” said Red Wing co-head coach Paul Hartmann. “We asked Michael to play multiple positions defensively, and he was open to doing whatever helped the team. Michael is a solid student, a true leader and one of the hardest working kids in our program.”
Ty Buck (So., Red Wing)
For a team looking for a lift, Red Wing got a strong push from sophomore infielder Ty Buck.
An All-Missota selection, Buck led the Wingers in batting average (.429), slugging percentage (.643), on-base percentage (.492), hits (24), doubles (six), triples (three) and RBI (18).
Buck was also a force on the mound, going 2-2 with a 1.85 ERA with a team-high 26 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings.
“There are not too many sophomores that are capable of changing the game the way Ty did,” said Red Wing co-head coach Paul Hartmann. “When rested and healthy, he proved that he was one of the top pitchers in our conference. Come game time, he competes as hard as anyone and has a great feel for the game. If he continues to work hard, he has a chance to be a special player.”
Noah Callister (Sr., Cannon Falls)
Aiding Cannon Falls to a Hiawatha Valley League championship and a No. 11 ranking in the final Class 2A poll, senior third baseman/pitcher Noah Callister earned All-Area honors for his ability all around the diamond.
At the plate, Callister, who was named All-Conference and All-Sub-Section, hit for a .400 batting average, a .508 on-base percentage and a .554 slugging percentage. He also drove in seven RBI and scored 11 runs.
On the rubber, Callister went 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA with 39 strikeouts and a 1.29 WHIP in 38 innings pitched, helping Cannon Falls to a 14-7 mark.
“Noah has had a solid career for us on the mound, at the plate and in the field,” said Bombers’ head coach Bucky Lindow. “Besides being an excellent baseball player, he is a young man of strong conviction and character. He has been a tremendous leader in our school.”
Taylor Carlson (Jr., Cannon Falls)
On the mound, Cannon Falls’ Taylor Carlson was, in a word, dominant.
In six appearances, Carlson went 4-1 and allowed just four runs on the way to a 0.92 ERA, the fourth lowest ERA in school history. Racking up 30 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings pitched, Carlson also put up a 1.35 WHIP on the way to All-HVL and honorable mention All-Sub-Section accolades.
“Taylor had a tremendous year on the mound for us,” said Bombers’ head coach Bucky Lindow. “He was a big reason that we won the conference.”
Chandler Flynn (Sr., Ellsworth)
In his final go-around with Ellsworth, second baseman Chandler Flynn became one of the Panthers’ more reliable offensive weapons.
With eight of his 18 hits going for extra bases (seven doubles, one triple), Flynn put up a .353 batting average and a .529 slugging percentage. He also drew 10 walks in 64 plate appearances, tallying a .468 on-base percentage while also scoring 17 runs.
Helping the Panthers to a second straight state appearance with a berth in the Division 2 semifinals, Flynn was named First Team All-Middle Border Conference. Winning the MBC title, Ellsworth finished the season with a 16-4 record and a No. 6 ranking in the final Division 2 polls.
Jake Griebenow (Sr., Lake City)
Playing all over the field for Lake City, senior Jake Griebenow gave the Tigers options all over the field.
A four-year starter for Lake City, Griebenow closed out his senior campaign with a .323 batting average, driving in 15 RBI and stealing seven bases. He also scored 20 runs on the way to an All-HVL nod.
On the mound, Griebenow went 2-3 but was Lake City’s top arm, striking out 44 and limiting opponents to 14 walks while sporting a 2.20 ERA. He helped the Tigers to a 17-6 record and the No. 17 ranking in the final Class 2A.
“He consistently pitched against the top teams,” said Tigers’ head coach Perry Iberg. “He pitched well all year and was shifted all over the field defensively.”
Andy Johnson (Sr., Goodhue)
After going 1-19 in 2012, Goodhue had a five-game improvement in 2013, going 6-16. And a reason for the Wildcats’ improvement was the play of senior third baseman/pitcher Andy Johnson.
Knocking 21 hits in 56 at-bats, Johnson had a .375 batting average and a .485 on-base percentage. He also had five doubles, one triple, nine RBI and 11 runs scored.
But it was on the mound where Johnson made arguably his biggest impact, striking out 48 batters compared to 14 walks while registering a 1.90 ERA and a 4-4 record.
An All-HVL and All-Sub-Section selection in 1A-East, Johnson will continue his baseball career at Division III Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.
“Andy is a great young man,” said Goodhue head coach Eric Schofield. “He has improved our team and program in many ways through his hard work and dedication.”
Kevin Niebuhr (Sr., Zumbrota-Mazeppa)
Zumbrota-Mazeppa senior first baseman Kevin Niebuhr provided one of the biggest offensive punches in the area in 2013.
Batting for a .333 average, Niebuhr drove in 21 RBI while knocking four doubles and a pair of home runs while pushing the Cougars to a 5-14 record.
An All-HVL selection, Niebuhr also saw time on the mound, going 1-3 with 30 strikeouts and a 2.77 ERA in 30 1/3 innings.
Brock Peterson (Jr., Cannon Falls)
A year ago, Brock Peterson only took the field for Cannon Falls as a defensive player. Moving from catcher to shortstop for his junior season, Peterson finally cracked the Bombers’ batting order and made a record-setting impact.
Peterson had 34 hits in 66 at-bats, putting up a school record .515 batting average. He also had a .621 on-base percentage and an .818 slugging percentage.
Among his 34 hits, Peterson had six doubles and two home runs, tallying 19 RBI and 20 runs scored.
Defensively, Peterson had 17 putouts and 48 assists with only two errors.
An All-HVL and All-Sub-Section selection, Peterson also won a pair of team awards: the Keith Meyers Hustle Award and the Luke Winchell Quality At-Bat Award.
“Brock had one of the best seasons I have seen a player have,” Cannon Falls head coach Bucky Lindow said. “Not only did he put up incredible offensive numbers, he was absolutely outstanding at shortstop.”
Dennis Schutz (Jr., Ellsworth)
Patrolling the outfield for state-bound Ellsworth, Dennis Schutz added speed and solid defense for the Panthers.
Schutz finished his junior season with 22 hits, including four doubles, a triple and a home run, hitting for a .379 batting average. Drawing six walks and putting together a .463 on-base percentage, Schutz was also dynamic on the base paths, going a perfect 13 of 13 on stolen base attempts.
For his all-around efforts, Schutz was named First Team All-Middle Border and was a Second Team All-District selection.
“(Dennis) was our top all-around position player,” said Ellsworth head coach Steve Block. “He has a cannon arm and is a tremendous fielder.”
Logan Thomas (Sr., Lake City)
A stalwart at third base for Lake City, senior Logan Thomas emerged as one of the top infielders in the area in 2013.
Earning team honors as the Tigers’ Most Valuable Player and Top Defensive Player, Thomas also had one of the team’s top bats, hitting for a .317 batting average with four doubles and a pair of triples. He also scored 16 runs and tallied four stolen bases.
Thomas provided Lake City with another strong arm, going 4-1 with 47 strikeouts in 43 innings and a 2.01 ERA.
Thomas, who will play for Division III Gustavus Adolphus in St. Peter, Minn., was tabbed as an All-HVL selection.
“He is the best defensive third baseman I’ve seen in a long time,” Tigers’ head coach Perry Iberg said. “He also pitched a lot of innings and was very consistent on the mound.”
Honorable mentions: Logan Armstrong, Ellsworth; John Brown, Lake City; Hunter Blakeslee, Cannon Falls; Riley Bollum, Goodhue; Trey Eckstrom, Red Wing; Ben Schramski, Lake City; Nick Taranto, Ellsworth; Austin Walstad, Zumbrota-Mazeppa; Matt Zorn, Red Wing.