Braves show improvement, finish 9-12
Charlie Dormanen expected an improved season from the Menahga baseball team this season.
The Braves lived up to those expectations by going 5-7 in Park Region Conference play and 9-12 overall to improve on last year's 2-10 conference record and 4-16 overall mark.
The Braves got off to a slow start by opening the season with a 2-8 record before closing the regular season with a 7-3 mark.
Menahga opened the season with a 6-2 conference loss to New York Mills, losses to Greenway (11-4), Hawley (6-5) and Sebeka (11-3) at the Park Rapids Invitational, and a 6-5 conference loss to Pillager.
The Braves ended that skid with a 10-1 win over Pine River-Backus before conference losses to Sebeka (10-0) and New York Mills (15-5), a 6-0 win over Lake Park-Audubon, and a 3-1 conference loss to Sebeka left Menahga with an 0-5 Park Region Conference record.
Menahga turned things around by going 5-1 in its next six games. The Braves swept a conference doubleheader from Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale by scores of 8-6 in nine innings and 7-2. After splitting a conference doubleheader with Parkers Prairie (rebounding from an 8-1 loss in the first game with a 7-1 win), the Braves defeated Nevis 8-2 and Ottertail Central 6-3. OTC won the second game 5-4 and Frazee followed with a 17-7 win in five innings.
Menahga ended the regular season with a 15-0 win over Laporte and 1-0 victory over Pillager to share fourth place in the conference standings. New York Mills won the conference title at 12-0 while Sebeka (7-5) and OTC (6-6) followed. Pillager and Parkers Prairie joined Menahga with 5-7 marks while BHV went 2-10.
Menahga received the No. 6 seed in the north half of the Section 6A playoffs and had its season end with a 1-0 loss to No. 3 Pine River-Backus.
For the season, the Braves had a .276 team batting average and a 3.39 team ERA.
Leading the Braves this season were the 10 regulars: seniors Teague Newman and Brandon Burgau; juniors Shawn Roth, Stetson Burkman, Frank Moren and Brandon Junes; and sophomores Bob Lusti, Levi Schwartz, Ray Mueller and Anders Tolkkinen.
Schwartz was the Braves' leading hitter by batting .377 (23 for 61, including five doubles, one triple and one home run) with 10 runs and 10 RBI in 21 games. Schwartz was named Menahga's Offensive Most Valuable Player.
Burkman was named the Braves' Most Valuable Player after batting .354 (23 for 64, including three doubles) with 14 runs, 11 RBI and six stolen bases in 21 games.
Moren hit .339 (19 for 56, including four doubles) with 10 runs, 10 RBI and eight stolen bases in 19 games.
Roth played in all 21 games and batted .323 (21 for 64, including five doubles and a triple) with a team-leading 21 runs, 18 stolen bases and 13 walks. Roth also had six RBI.
Mueller led the Braves with three home runs and 12 RBI while batting .311 (19 for 61) with seven runs and 11 walks in 21 games.
Junes hit .245 (12 for 49) with seven runs and eight RBI in 20 games.
Lusti was named the team's Defensive Most Valuable Player and batted .242 (15 for 62, including three doubles) with 12 runs and nine RBI in 21 games.
Tolkkinen played in 17 games and had four runs and three RBI.
Newman also played in 17 games and had six runs, six stolen bases and five RBI.
Burgau was named the Braves' Most Improved Player and had six runs, four stolen bases and two RBI.
Leading the pitching staff were Lusti, Schwartz, Junes and Burkman.
Lusti appeared in eight games, six as a starter, and went 3-3 with a 1.72 ERA. In 40 2/3 innings, Lusti allowed 25 hits and 10 earned runs with 45 strikeouts and 15 walks.
Schwartz pitched 36 innings in eight appearances, six as a starter, and compiled a 3-2 record with a 2.33 ERA. Schwartz gave up 25 hits and 12 earned runs with 31 walks and 39 strikeouts.
Junes had a 1-4 record and a 5.18 ERA in six starts. Junes pitched 24 1/3 innings and allowed 34 hits and 18 earned runs with 16 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Burkman pitched 20 innings and made eight appearances, going 2-1 with a 7.00 ERA. Burkman gave up 20 hits and 20 earned runs with 20 strikeouts and 17 walks.
Johnson went 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA while Burgau went 0-1 with a 4.42 ERA.