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Amateur Baseball: Ball falls out of favor for Serpents

Lake City’s Austin Baab tries to steal third base during the Serpents’ 3-2 loss to Wanamingo on Wednesday at Bill Kieffer Field. Baab was thrown out after walking to start the third inning. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

LAKE CITY – Had Wednesday claimed a little bit of Friday’s heat, the Lake City Serpents may have come away with a victory over Wanamingo. Instead, the cool air knocked down two towering fly balls, and the Jacks escaped with a 3-2 win at Bill Kieffer Field.

“They just died,” said Lake City manager Scott Gwaltney. “It was a pretty heavy night.”

Brett Gwaltney and Austin Baab both launched what looked like easy doubles – or a home run in Baab’s case – but were turned into easy outs when the ball died before hitting the fence. Those swings came in the bottom of the seventh, and after Wanamingo had taken the lead in the top of the sixth on Alex Roosen’s two-RBI single scored Peder and Eric Sviggum.

“They only had that one hard single off of Kyle, that was really the only hard-hit ball they had off of him. But they happened to have guys on second and third at the time,” Scott Gwaltney said.

Kyle Sursely pitched six innings and took the loss, giving up three earned runs on six hits and three walks.

An early 2-0 lead from Lake City boosted a solid outing for Sursely, who churned out twice as many innings than expected.

“We’ve been doing that a lot this year. We’ve been doing lots of scoring early, and then petering out late,” Scott Gwaltney said. “And Kyle has been having some arm trouble, and he went a lot further than I was going to let him. We were just feeling it out to see what he had. It’s a non-league game, we’re missing out four and five hitters. And that showed.”

The Serpents had just six hits in the game, but several times the Jacks turned rockets into outs.

“We hammered the ball, but it was just in the air, and that’s baseball. We hit the ball much harder than they did, but theirs dropped in and they were key hits,” Scott Gwaltney said.

Kelby Halling’s two-run double in the first was the only scoring for Lake City. Brett Gwaltney and Baab scored. Baab finished 2-for-3 with Brett Gwaltney, Halling, Logan Thomas and Hunter Baab all going 1-for-4.

Only three games remain for the Serpents in the regular season, a stretch that their manager said was planned.

“That’s good for our rest. Brett is our ace, and Kyle’s right there with him. When you beat Miesville and Dundas in the same year as a C team, you’re happy. That never happens. I said I might have to retire and be done with it,” Scott Gwaltney said, adding that a loaded June schedule wreaked havoc on the health of his team.

And while Wednesday’s game was not has key as others as it was not a Classic Cannon Valley showdown, Scott Gwaltney hopes that that changes in the future.

“I knew they didn’t want to get in the Cannon Valley (in the past),” the manager said, noting that the Jacks have rebuilt their team into a solid unit. “I was joking that they should come see real baseball (in the CCVL). You play in the Cannon Valley and win 20 games, you’re happy. It’s some of the best amateur baseball has to offer.”

Kyle Stevens

Kyle Stevens is the Regional Sports Editor for RiverTown Multimedia. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @KyleSleepins.

(651) 301-7879