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Baseball: Buck caps off baseball season in Florida

Since the high school baseball season, Red Wing’s Ty Buck hasn’t put down his bat and glove until now.

After finishing the season with the Wingers, the Red Wing junior played ball with the Red Wing Legion team, the Red Wing Aces and with the Ohio Warhawks, one of the top under-18 traveling baseball squads in the country.

And for four days last week, Buck suited up one more time for the Warhawks, playing in the 15th annual World Wood Bat Association World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.

Playing on the spring training fields for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins could be an intimidating experience for a high school kid, but Buck said he felt at ease. Last year, Buck played in the WWBA World Championship and remembered how nervous he was during that time.

“This year, I had an open mind,” Buck said. “I told myself, ‘Don’t get nervous, play your game,’ and I felt a lot more comfortable. Overall, I felt a lot better.”

Buck and the Warhawks finished the tournament 3-2, with wins over PG White (Cedar Rapids, Iowa), Chandler (Altoona, Pa.) and Austin (Texas).

“It was a fun time down there,” Buck said. “All the rosters had a lot of good players on it.”

During the five games, Buck said his best efforts came from the field where he played in right field and center field. It was an encouraging sign considering Buck’s usual place is on the left side of the infield.

Ultimately, Buck hopes to play at third base, but as long as he can get out on the field, showcase his skills and help his team win, it didn’t really matter where he was on the field.

“I’ve played infield all my life, but I kind of got used to (playing in the outfield),” Buck said. “Wherever I get to play and get an at-bat, I don’t care where I’m playing.”

Batting was a bit more problematic for Buck in Jupiter as he went hitless against Canada PG Gold, Austin and Palm Beach. Buck’s best hitting game came against Chandler, where he went 1-for-2 with an RBI, a run scored and a walk.

“The pitching is really good out there. There’s no excuses though; I struggled a little bit hitting,” Buck said.

Even amid some minor struggles, there was a positive to pull from the batter’s box. And, it gives Buck something to work on in the off-season.

“(Against Chandler) I had the third hardest-hit ball in the tournament (at 103.9 miles per hour),” Buck said. “I hit the ball all right in that game, and in the field, I did really well in the tournament.

“While I was down there, my dad recorded my swing and I noticed I was jerking my front foot out instead of putting it down. If I time it right, it’s fine, but if I’m slightly behind or anything, my bat’s way behind. I have to get my foot down and let my hands do their job.”

Buck had drawn plenty of attention prior to last week’s tournament, getting a 9.5 grade from Perfect Game USA, one of baseball’s top scouting service, after his play in the Perfect Game Underclass All-American Games this summer. 

Now with baseball on the back-burner until the spring, Buck shifts his focus to basketball, where Red Wing hopes for a return to the Section 1AAA finals. The Wingers officially begin practice on Nov. 11. 

Buck still plans on taking some swings in the family’s garage over the winter, but basketball is now his focus as well as a welcomed change of pace.

“Baseball season got to be a little bit long. I haven’t stopped playing since the high school season,” Buck said. “I put 100 percent effort in (basketball), but it’s is more laid back, it feels like to me. I like the momentum change.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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