Panthers begin season of rebuilding
It’s been a tough start to the season for the Princeton Panthers, the town baseball team that is in a rebuilding mode.
The Panthers lost 14-1 in the season opener to East Bethel, lost 12-5 in Princeton to St. Francis on May 9, and then lost 13-3 to the Rum River Bandits of Cambridge on May 16 at Solheim Veterans Field.
The Panthers had nine errors in the Rum River game.
“Right now it’s just a matter of getting everyone back that is going to play, and getting people at their regular positions,” said co-manager Curt Wilson.
Acknowledging that he had never seen a Princeton team with nine errors, Wilson says there’s nowhere to go but up.
“I don’t have unreasonable expectations,” Wilson said. “Right now we’re trying to find guys who are committed to being there on a regular basis.”
Wilson and Eric Deglman, both mainstays during the glory years of the Panthers, are co-managers, while Jules Zimmer and Bob Beattie are coaches for the team, a job they have both done before.
Some of those who haven’t played yet are Josh Ludwig, slated to be No. 1 in the pitching rotation; Jordan Neubauer, the team’s regular catcher the past couple years; Kyle Norman, a 2011 PHS grad who played community college ball in St. Cloud this season; and Joe Swanson, the Cambridge grad who has been one of the team’s most dependable pitchers the past few seasons.
Sam Keeler, a Foley grad, will also be around as an infielder.
Other new players are Nick Mensen of Coon Rapids, Sam Solberg from Cambridge (and Itasca Community College) and Mike Bergin of Cambridge, a pitcher.
But there were six Princeton grads in the starting lineup vs. Rum River last week.
Next game for the Panthers is at 7:30 on June 2 in Quamba.
Josh Hanus, a 2011 PHS grad, started on the mound and he, Eric Ostmoe (a Panther regular the past two years) and Josh Vickers, a 2010 PHS grad, each pitched three innings in the 12-5 loss.
St. Francis had 12 hits and six walks. The Saints led only 6-5 after five innings but tacked on five runs in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
Mensen had two-run homers for the Panthers in the second and fourth innings and Tyler Bialucha, a PHS grad, had three hits.
Only five of the Rum River runs were earned because of the nine Princeton errors.
It was 9-0 after the top of the third and the Bandits cruised to an easy win.
Mensen and Mark Beattie, a Panther veteran, each had two hits and Jesse Zimmer, another Panther veteran, drove in two runs.
Mensen had the only extra-base hit, a double.