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Erickson whiffs 10 Blue Jays in home opener...

It’s not often a middle school athlete is elevated to the varsity level, but that happened last Monday in Kenmare when Noah Erickson became the starting pitcher against the Stanley Blue Jays.

4/23/19 (Tue)

It’s not often a middle school athlete is elevated to the varsity level, but that happened last Monday in Kenmare when Noah Erickson became the starting pitcher against the Stanley Blue Jays.

It was Erickson’s first varsity experience and he performed well at the higher level of play. He threw a four-hitter, issued one walk, balked once and hit one batter with a pitch.

But what really impressed a lot of people is that Erickson struck out 10 batters including striking out the side in the second inning and mowing down two Blue Jays in the fourth inning.

The Honkers took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third, but the Blue Jays chipped away. Still, the Honkers never trailed in the game, winning 4-3.

Stanley scored two of their three runs in the top of the fourth to come within one, but then the Honkers got an insurance run in the fifth.

Erickson was throwing strikes and aside from a couple of fly balls, the Blue Jays weren’t threatening until the top half of the fourth.

The lead off man doubled, Erickson threw a wild pitch and the runner advanced to third. A base hit drove in the Blue Jays’ first run. The runner on first then stole second, a pass ball sent him to third and a base hit to left drove in another run making it 3-2.

The Honkers got the first out on a dribbler to Erickson who threw on to Keaton Chrest at first for the out. He then hit the next batter putting two Blue Jays on with one out.

However, the young phenom settled down and struck out the next two batters to end the inning.

When the fifth started, Erickson looked a little tired as he was missing the strike zone more often. He gave up a walk and a base hit and another run may have scored but Caleb Erickson nailed the guy who walked trying to get to third on a ground ball.

The next batter flew out to center and Erickson struck out the next batter for the third out.

With the score 4-3 in the top of the seventh, Erickson hit the first batter he faced then retired the side, going the distance and getting the win.

But it wasn’t all Erickson as the Honker bats were active.

Caleb Erickson doubled on a fly ball to deep left field in the first inning to set the tone for the entire game.

After the Honkers left the bases loaded in the second, Garrett Stroklund opened the bottom half of the third by getting hit by a pitch, a base hit and a Stroklund steal of third base brought up Derrick Handeland who hit what looked like a routine out to the second baseman but an error throwing to first allowed two runs to score and the Honkers were up 3-0.

The Honkers picked up their fourth run in the fourth when Erickson scored after taking a walk to lead off the inning.

Colby Feldman got hit by a pitch, took first base and the Honkers had two runners on with nobody out. An error on the first baseman allowed Erickson to score for the Honkers’ fourth and final run.

The game was close throughout and Erickson admitted he was under a lot of stress from time to time.

“I felt a lot of pressure toward the end of the game, but Derrick and Keaton helped me out a lot,” he said. “This is my first varsity game but coach Bill (Lowry) taught me a ton about mechanics.”

Erickson added he was really happy that the older guys helped him out which kept him positive on the mound.

“I told him, just go out there and throw strikes,” head coach Trevor Wilson said. “He threw strikes, he got the win and that was nice.”

Catcher Colby Feldman said Erickson was putting the ball exactly where he wanted it much of the game which may have been a contributing factor in the win.

Erickson wasn’t real fast and he wasn’t trying to dazzle anybody with fancy pitches. He was out there bearing down, playing good old-fashioned baseball and it showed as he remained solid for six of his seven innings.

The second game was all Stanley as the Blue Jays routed the Honkers in an 11-0 shut out.

Carson Thingvold, another eighth grader, started the game but struggled from the start, giving up three unearned runs in the first.

He did manage to get six strikeouts, but they came amongst a flurry of walks and hit batters, as well as base hits.

The split with the Blue Jays brought the Honkers’ record to 2-4 with a double header in Makoti on Tuesday and a home match against Des Lacs/Burlington on Thursday... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!