Tigers competed during 19-7 season
The Nevis baseball team took another major step to fulfilling a major goal.
In Bill Dent’s first year as head coach last season, the Tigers finished third in the Northland Conference with an 8-4 record, received the No. 9 seed for the Section 6A tournament and lost in the first round to end with a 10-8 record.
With the majority of that team returning, Dent was counting on the Tigers to improve on those marks and become a contender in the conference and section.
The Tigers showed major improvement by going 13-0 in Northland Conference play before losing to Blackduck in the conference title game, compiling a 19-7 overall record and falling two wins shy of playing for the section title.
Nevis opened the season with conference wins over Red Lake (13-0), Northome/Kelliher (12-0), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (11-5), Laporte (20-3 and 24-4) and Cass Lake (9-2).
After dropping games to Eveleth-Gilbert (6-5) and Esko (14-4), the Tigers stayed undefeated in conference play with victories over Pine River-Backus (10-0 and 14-8) and Lake of the Woods (9-2 and 5-3).
A 7-4 loss to Barnesville was followed with a six-game winning streak as the Tigers defeated Menahga (4-0), Blackduck (5-0), W-H-A (11-5), Cass Lake (10-2), Lake Park-Audubon (8-4) and Sebeka (2-1).
Blackduck claimed the conference title with a 5-0 victory over Nevis. In conference play, Nevis went 13-1 while Blackduck finished 11-1. Following were W-H-A at 10-3, PR-B at 4-6, LOW at 4-8, Cass Lake at 2-5, N/K at 2-7, Laporte at 2-9 and Red Lake at 0-7.
The Tigers closed the regular season with an 11-1 win over Mahnomen/Waubun to earn the No. 3 seed in the North half of the Section 6A tournament.
Nevis opened section play with a 2-1 win over No. 6 Sebeka before falling to No. 2 Frazee 9-1. The Tigers stayed alive with a 13-7 win over No. 4 Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale and a 3-2 win over Brandon-Evansville (the No. 2 seed in the south) before being eliminated with a 5-4 loss to Frazee. Frazee defeated Breckenridge 5-3 before falling to New York Mills 4-1 in the section championship game. New York Mills finished second at the state Class A tournament.
“Our baseball staff has a plan and a big part of that is to teach solid, fundamental baseball so that year in and year out we will be very competitive and playoff ready,” said Dent, who was named the Northland Conference Coach of the Year. “My guys are somewhat disappointed that we did not make the section final vs. New York Mills.”
For the season, the Tigers averaged 7.8 runs a game while allowing 4.1 runs a game. Nevis hit .331 as a team and had a team ERA of 1.84.
Leading the Tigers this season were seniors Eddie Nedvicky and Michael Tranby; juniors Austin Becker, Gavin Becker, Courtland Chase, Gavin Hitchcock, Victor Mastley, Phil Moore, Spencer Stack and Brett Byer; and freshman Andrew Dudley.
Austin Becker was named the conference’s Most Valuable Player after leading the Tigers with a .588 batting average (50 for 85), 13 doubles, five triples, two home runs, 36 RBI, 30 stolen bases, a 7-2 record with two saves and a 0.80 ERA. In 14 appearances and 61.1 innings, Becker allowed 19 runs (seven earned) on 32 hits with 30 walks and 88 strikeouts. Becker also scored 30 runs in 26 games.
Gavin Becker also earned all-conference honors after batting .356 (31 for 87) with 21 runs, 10 doubles, 19 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 26 games. Becker also made 11 pitching appearances, going 5-3 with a 2.24 ERA. In 43.2 innings, Becker allowed 38 runs (14 earned) on 59 hits with 13 walks and 25 strikeouts.
Mastley also played in all 26 games and received all-conference honors after batting .345 (30 for 87) with a team-leading 31 runs. Mastley had 15 RBI and stole 17 bases.
Hitchcock was the Tigers’ other all-conference player who hit .343 (24 for 70) with 22 RBI in 26 games. Hitchcock also went 1-1 with a 2.93 ERA in six games. In 14.1 innings, Hitchcock allowed 20 runs (six earned) on 13 hits with 16 walks and 20 strikeouts.
Byer earned all-conference honorable mention honors after batting .269 (18 for 67) with 16 runs and 10 RBI in 26 games. Byer also went 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA. In 11 appearances and 32.1 innings, Byer allowed 21 runs (12 earned) on 32 hits with 19 walks and 33 strikeouts.
Dudley played in 24 games and batted .320 (16 for 50) with 13 runs and seven RBI and had a 1-0 record and 1.97 ERA in 10.2 innings and five appearances.
Stack played in 23 games and hit .294 (15 for 51) with 20 runs and six RBI.
Moore played in 19 games and hit .294 (10 for 34) with nine runs and five RBI.
Nedvicky hit .250 (15 for 60) with 13 runs, 10 stolen bases and seven RBI in 21 games.
Chase played in 26 games and batted .234 (18 for 77) with 21 runs, nine RBI and seven steals.
Tranby appeared in 22 games and hit .205 (8 for 39) with six runs and eight RBI.
Receiving team awards were Austin Becker (MVP), Dudley (Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player) and Hitchcock (Defensive Player of the Year). Austin Becker and Gavin Becker also earned all-section honors. Also seeing varsity time were juniors Dustin McGee and Tristan Murchie; freshman Cameron Gross; and eighth graders Adam Thompson, Dillon McGee, Tucker Roehl, Jack DeWulf, Sam Hitchcock and Caden Kramer.
“We have very high expectations for next season,” said Dent. “We want to win the overall conference title, not just our half. We want to win the section title for the first time in school history. There are some very good teams returning, so we have our work cut out for us. We have stepped up each season and I expect us to do it again next year.”