Area prep notebook: Grafton pitching staff stingier than expected

Chad Kliniske wasn't sure entering the season if he had a dominant pitcher on his Grafton baseball team. As the season has unfolded, however, the Spoilers have developed a staff full of pitchers who have shown they can dominate games. The Spoiler...

Chad Kliniske wasn't sure entering the season if he had a dominant pitcher on his Grafton baseball team.

As the season has unfolded, however, the Spoilers have developed a staff full of pitchers who have shown they can dominate games. The Spoilers are 17-3, with a 1.19 team earned run average.

"I knew we'd be deep," Kliniske said. "I just didn't know how good the pitchers would be. I've been pleasantly surprised.

"I didn't know if we had a real shutdown, dominant type of pitcher. But, by the looks of things, we've got a couple of them. We've got a glut of quality pitchers we've been running out on the mound."

Seniors Colby Aasand and Sam Tweten have been the workhorses. Aasand, who has signed a letter of intent to play baseball at Valley City State, is 4-0 with a 0.97 ERA, striking out 52 in 29 innings. Tweten is 3-0, 1.26 with 31 strikeouts in 22 innings.


Other top pitchers have been freshman Jaime Villarreal (3-1, 0.88, 25 strikeouts in 16 innings), sophomore Joey Demers (2-1, 1.08, holding opponents to a .095 batting average) and junior Ryan Dusek (1-1, 1.11).

The Spoilers have had dominant pitchers in recent pitchers such as Anthony Kliniske, Alex Martinez and Jordan Lutovsky.

"Colby looks like he can be that type of pitcher," the Grafton coach said. "He can really pop the catcher's mitt. He's got a good fastball and great command of the strike zone. Sam can strike out guys, too. He throws hard and keeps batters off balance with his curve. Jaime and Joey throw strikes, and nobody seems to hit the ball hard off Joey."

In addition to the Spoilers' stingy team earned run average, Grafton's pitchers have recorded 155 strikeouts in 112 innings.

The depth has been so good that Cory Blanchard, who was 3-1 with a sub-1.00 ERA last season, has thrown only seven innings this spring. The Spoilers have been able to use the versatile Blanchard at a number of positions, depending on who is on the mound. Kliniske said he hopes to get Blanchard more innings, but has found it difficult to get anybody a lot of mound time because so many pitchers are performing well.

"We've always had good pitching depth," Kliniske said. "But we've never had so many good numbers from guys across the board like this.

"The numbers don't lie. Our pitchers have exceeded expectations."

Roseau adjusts


training regimen

Wade Kerner and Caleb VanDeWege excel in totally different events. But the Roseau track standouts have figured out a way to train together.

Kerner specializes in the 200 and 400, while VanDeWege is a hurdler. About twice a week, they run together while doing their specialties. VanDeWege will run 200 meters of hurdles while Kerner spots him 20 yards, running an open 220.

"Wade is trying to catch Caleb, and they come out pretty close," Roseau coach Dan Fabian said. "They started doing it this year. I think it was Wade's idea. When I saw them racing, I thought, 'Well, that's pretty ingenious.'

"They run different events, but the races expend about the same amount of energy. They're two highly motivated, competitive kids. They're both benefiting from this. That competition in practice pushes them a little harder."

Kerner currently ranks tied for the 13th-fastest time in the 200 in Minnesota's Class A ranks this spring (23.0 seconds) and is third-fastest in the 400 (51.2 seconds). The junior set a school record in the 400 last season. "A sophomore setting a school record doesn't happen very often in our boys program," Fabian said.

VanDeWege, a senior, is defending Section 8A champion in both the 100 and 300 hurdles.

While the two runners have benefited from racing each other in their different events, Fabian said the drill may still have some tinkering ahead.


"We'll probably move Wade back another 10 yards at the start to make him work a little harder," the Roseau coach said.

Patriots best against the best

Mayville-Portland-Clifford-Galesburg's baseball team has an unusual record.

The Patriots are a game under .500 at 5-6. Yet May-Port-C-G is 2-2 against Thompson and Minto-Midway, the top two teams in Region 2 who combined are 13-4 in region play and 17-5 overall.

"We've actually played pretty consistently," Patriots coach Eric Nygaard said. "Our pitchers have done well. They've kept us in games. And we've hit the ball hard all year. Early in the year, though, it seemed like we were hitting it right at people a lot. Now we're finding holes more and those are dropping in for hits.

"Our record is kind of deceptive. A lot of our games have been close."

The Patriots' six losses include narrow setbacks of 1-0 against Minto-Midway, 3-2 against Central Valley-Hillsboro and 3-0 in eight innings against Hatton- Northwood, all of whom are Region 2 members.

"Our region is pretty balanced," Nygaard said.


Nygaard said the Patriots' most consistent players have been Christian Berry, Chase Elliott, Eric Fugleberg, Jace Ingebretson and Tyler Ust.


Cory Waling has been named head football coach at perennial Section 8 9-man football power Kittson County Central. Waling is a long-time assistant in the KCC program and a former head coach at the North Star co-op in Minnesota. He succeeds Terry Ogorek, who resigned after last season. . . . Langdon senior Jon Dinius has signed letters of intent to compete in football and track at Dickinson State University. . . . Wes Jacobson has been named football coach of the Midway-Minto program. . . . Warroad senior Miranda Pearson has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Jamestown College. . . . Devils Lake senior Tyler Mertens has signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Lake Region State College in Devils Lake. . . . Two Badger-Greenbush-Middle River seniors have made commitments to play college football, Peter Wollin at University of Minnesota-Morris and Cole Christianson at University of Sioux Falls. . . . Larimore seniors Megan Yahna and Karee Breon have signed letters of intent to play volleyball at Mayville State.

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to .

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