Despite losing two of their three games this week, the Osceola Braves managed to keep themselves in position for an August playoff spot. While dropping two out of the three games on their schedule, the Braves went 1-1 in their conference games keeping them at .500 for the season in league play.
The first game of the week was a non-conference game against the Isanti Redbirds, a team that came into the matchup with an overall record of 13-4 compared to the Braves’ record of 5-8. The matchup between these two teams was anything but ordinary, both starting pitchers had over seven strikeouts each. The Redbirds threw their ace and he delivered, amassing double-digit strikeouts during his seven innings of work.
Braves Player/Manager Brian Hronski discussed the unusual style game against the Redbirds.
“I’ve played 28 years of amateur ball and I haven’t seen too many 0-0 games going into the seventh inning. It’s just a rare type of game and both pitchers were zoned in,” Hronski said.
In the final two innings of play, the Redbirds took the lead and never looked back. They scored three runs in the top of the eighth in route to their 3-1 victory over the Braves at Oakey Park on June 26.
“Anytime you play a good non-conference opponent, I love the test and the challenge. These guys are one of the best class C teams in Minnesota. We get a lot more out of this game losing 3-1 than we do beating up a team that’s not as good,” Hronski said.
In the second game of the week, the Braves played the best team in the league, the Spooner Cardinals. The Cardinals came into the game with the best record in the conference. Before the first pitch had even been thrown, the Braves were at a disadvantage. They were missing five starters that are normally some of the most impactful players on the Braves roster.
Those missing starters absence had an impact as soon as the game began. The matchup only went seven innings due to the 10-run rule cutting the game short as the Braves fell to the Cardinals 16-6 on June 28. The Cardinals did a significant portion of their damage by stealing bases and advancing runners into scoring position.
“Their philosophy is that they’re going to be aggressive and run, so that was going to be a big part of the game. They were going to take the extra base tonight and they didn’t care what the score was, they were going to keep running,” Hronski said.
In the final matchup of the week, the Braves got the big win that they needed to maintain their playoff aspirations for August. On Saturday, June 29, the Braves played the Haugen Hornets, a team that the Braves had previously beaten by a score of 8-3. For this matchup, the Braves managed to put together a quality game from the first pitch to the final out.
Braves pitcher Mike Pilitech threw a complete game in the victory with help coming from the defense and some timely hitting to provide run support. Aidan Hansen had three doubles, Mark Hronski had three hits, and the entire team contributed to secure an 11-2 victory at Oakey Park.
Despite the two losses, the conference victory over the Hornets gives the Braves the momentum that they need moving into July. The 3-3 conference record for the Braves puts them within striking distance of having a playoff spot secured in the coming weeks.
The Braves have their next game July 10 against the Prescott Pirates at Oakey Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Last week’s scores
Hayward 1, Brill 4
Spooner 16, Osceola 6
Hayward 12, Hornets 2
Hornets 2, Osceola 11
Spooner 8, Hayward 7 (12 Innings)
Brill at Osceola rained out - make up July 21
July 7: Spooner at Hornets 1 p.m.
July 7: Knights at Brill 1 p.m.
Independent League Standings