Baseball is back! And for the Barnum/Moose Lake/Willow River (BMW) U-13 travel team, it came back with a bang in the home opener. In the bottom of the sixth and final inning, BMW trailed Esko 11-7. Elliott Wasche led off with a walk, PJ Fritch singled and with one out Joey Steen walked to load the bases. Bryce Ferguson then laced a single to left center plating Wasche and making the score 11-8. Then with two outs, the bases still loaded, and the count one to one, Reese Bode lined a screamer well over the 250 sign in right field to give the locals a comeback 12-11 victory and a mini celebration at home plate. Joey Steen had come in to toss a scoreless sixth and came away with the pitching win. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic, baseball was only open to practices with distancing through late June. The Quad Cities League (a 12 community league in which youth Moose Lake/Willow River and Barnum baseball plays) earlier made the decision not to play games this year. However, after the state opened baseball up to gameplay in late June some of the area traveling teams have been scampering to schedule games.

A few changes have been implemented to keep some distancing intact and the risk of the spread of COVID-19 down, but in the end it is still the fun game of baseball, and the smiles on the kid's faces were ear to ear as the BMW 12's started off with a scrimmage against the BMW 13's on June 26. The area 12-year-old teams playing are quite limited and the have led to difficulties for our BMW 12's to find games. However the 13-year-old team was able to start in Cloquet June 27 with two games: defeating Superior and losing to Esko. Steen also had the pitching win in the Superior game going the first three innings while just allowing one run. Ferguson threw a shutout inning and Eli Gilbertson struck out five in two innings. Gilbertson led BMW at the dish with four hits and swiped three bags, Bode had three hits (two doubles), Levi Mikrot two hits and three steals, Brody Vernon two hits, Wasche had a triple, Landen Oetterer a double, and Owen Peterson a two RBI single over the two games.

In the July 1 home doubleheader against Esko, BMW lost the second game 20-10 after that thrilling 12-11 win in the opener. Going into the final inning of that second game the home nine were trailing just 7-5. 13 runs and four pitchers later the deficit was too large to overcome despite another gland slam in the bottom of the sixth from Bode's bat. Sam Haugen had hit a grand slam for Esko in the top of the sixth. Top BMW hitters in the doubleheader were Reese Bode with five hits, three of them homers and 10 RBI's; Brody Vernon four hits including a double; Bryce Ferguson, Eli Gilbertson, Levi Mikrot, and Elliott Wasche two hits each; and PJ Fritch, Landen Oetterer, and Joey Steen with one hit each. Stalwarts on the mound included Steen going three innings allowing just one run, Bode giving up two in three innings notching seven strikeouts, and Vernon pitching 2.1 innings allowing one run and whiffing three.

The next home games for BMW will be this Saturday June 11 when they host Virginia at Twilight Field in Moose Lake for a doubleheader starting at 10 a.m. As players distance by spreading out in the bleacher area behind home plate as well as their dugouts, spectators are welcome but must sit around the outfield fence with the encouragement for each family group to be six feet apart. Bringing lawn chairs or blankets can make things easier on the legs. Whatever the result, the boys are just happy to be playing baseball again.

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