Logan Spitzack and Tyler Krekling hit for the Honkers. Photo submitted
By David Richards
It's a little different than playing at Triton High School or at St. Cloud State University.
Here, they throw t-shirts into the crowd and play music between batters, from Cotton-eyed Joe to the catchy tune where everybody claps their hands.
Fans drink beer and come for a dinner of hot dogs and hard shell peanuts. Kids spend their time savoring pixy sticks and shagging foul balls.
Oh, and the attendance clears 1,000.
Former Triton baseball star Logan Spitzack is spending his summer on the mound for the Rochester Honkers, the area's baseball team made up of some of the best college players in the nation.
He signed a temporary contract with the squad before he goes back to St. Cloud where he will be a redshirt sophomore.
"I came to a lot of games when I was young, so it's a dream come true," said Spitzack, a 2011 Triton graduate.
Through July 12, Spitzack pitched in nine games with a 2-1 record and a 3.71 earned run average.
He was back on the mound Saturday night, July 13, in Rochester (19-25) for a Northwoods League matchup against the Wilmar Stingers (26-17).
"It definitely gives you a lot of energy," he said of playing in front of a larger crowd.
Spitzack was effective, throwing five, strong innings in a no-decision performance.
He used a recipe of his fast ball, which reached 89 miles per hour, and mixed in doses of his curve and changeup as well.
"I felt fine about a couple of the innings," said Spitzack, not getting too high or too low about the outing. "I just need to keep getting better after every start."
The Honkers eventually lost the contest 5-3, and the game was tied 2-2 when Spitzack left the mound.
He faced 24 batters, struck out three, walked three, gave up two runs on six hits and threw 34 balls to 52 strikes.
"I thought he did a really good job; he was good on his curve ball," Honkers pitching coach Matt Bowman said.
Spitzack's best game came on June 7 when he threw seven innings and gave up zero runs on six hits, scoring the win in a 9-0 Rochester victory.
The July 13 outing was Spitzack's fifth time this summer where he's lasted five or more innings.
"We usually like to get our starters to the 85-90 pitch count," Bowman said.
On that night, Spitzack threw 86.
In addition to Spitzack, former Hayfield baseball star Tyler Krekling also signed a temporary contract for the Honkers and played earlier this summer.
In seven games, the outfielder connected on two hits and scored four runs in his 18 plate appearances, hitting a .111 batting average.
Krekling hit .349 as a freshman at Riverland Community College and .336 as a sophomore. He will play next year for Concordia, St. Paul.
Spitzack said he's enjoying his time with the Honkers as it's a chance for him to improve and gain valuable experience.
His coaches think so, too.
"He has a bright future," Bowman said. "He's getting some of the best hitters in the country out."
Spitzack heads back to school in late August, so for now, he keeps on pitching in the stadium that's a near, stone's throw from his house, a place where he gets asked for autographs and where everybody claps their hands.