The Osceola Braves kicked off the 2019 season with a pair of wins at home. On May 30, the Braves defeated the St. Paul Hops 3-1 with University of Wisconsin - Superior Mike Piletich picking up the win. The Braves also won on May 31, defeating the St. Paul Mudhens 5-4 with the game called due to thunderstorms after the 7th inning. Braves newcomer Aidan Hanson got the win in relief. Last Sunday, in conference action, the Braves fell 4-2 at Haugen Knights.
The 2019 season featured just about an entirely new lineup with returning position players Brett Nelson (UW-Stevens Point) and Brandon Rolf (UW-Superior) in the outfield, surrounded by many new faces in the infield and behind the plate.
The Braves catching duties in the first week went to Brady Leverington (Bethel University) and Osceola 2018 grad Luke Lundgren. The infield included veterans who played in Minnesota last summer: Mark Hronski, Brian Hronski in addition to A.J. Beasley (Somerset/UM-Duluth), Matt Schultz (Osceola), Brady Berg (Osceola), Hunter Pederson (Unity), Tom Johnson (Osceola) and Brett Carlson (Osceola/Bethel University). The Braves also returned utility player Jordan Martell (Osceola) and 2018 Osceola grads Tyler Ingram and Howard Miller. The Braves also used seven pitchers during the first week of the season.
Against the Haugen Knights, Osceola held a 2-1 lead for most of the game until late, when Haugen scored two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth. The offense provided just enough timely hitting to win a pair of games to start the season with Brandon Rolf, AJ Beasley and Brady Leverington with multiple hit games.
“We played really good defense to start the season,” Braves manager Brian Hronski said. “Overall the pitching and the dugout vibes have been really good.”
The Braves are also adding pitcher Christian Zellner who pitched this spring in South Carolina and was on the Braves roster two years ago.
“Everyone is getting to play and when you play three games a week, there’s more than enough baseball for everyone,” Hronski added.
The Braves have one of its toughest stretches this week with four games. The Braves host Hudson on June 5, and host the Minneapolis Angels on June 7. The Braves play at home the following night with the Haugen Knights coming to Oakey Park for a 5 p.m. game on June 8 during Rhubarb Fest. The Braves play at Brill on June 9.
Manager Hronski explained that he’s still thinking about the pitching rotation for the upcoming week. Brett Carlson started the game against the Haugen Knights and held a veteran lineup in check for six innings. Also, AJ Beasley who played shortstop and pitched in relief has been named to the Wisconsin State All-Star team and will play at the all-star game in late June in Oshkosh. Beasley graduated from Somerset High School this spring. Beasley’s older brother, Austin, is also playing for the Braves this summer.
Current standings for the Independent League:
Haugen Knights 1-2
Haugen Hornets 0-0