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Amateur Baseball: Balance the key as Aces prep for 2015

With top-of-the-line starting pitchers like Aaron Johnson and JT Cunningham, the Red Wing Aces have a pitching staff that can contend with anyone in the Classic Cannon Valley League.

Now, getting the offense up to that standard is the challenge for Red Wing as they prepare for the 2015 season.

“I know from last year that you basically could decide a win or a loss depending on if we hit or not,” said Aces’ manager Jimmy Bohmbach. “Our pitching was what always kept us in the game, and it just depended on if we could get some runs.”

Bohmbach continued, “It’ll be very similar this summer: if we can get some hits and take some pressure off our pitching, we’ll be fine.”

Starting the season across state lines against Bay City on Saturday May 9, Red Wing will look to rebound after a 14-14 campaign in 2014 that saw the team’s season come to an end in the first round of the Section 1B playoffs in a three-game series against Northfield.

As they try to get back to the state tournament, the Aces will lean on its usual suspects to help lead the way like Steve Boldt (.300 batting average, 16 RBI, five stolen bases) and Adam Thygesen (.293 average, 24 hits) at the plate. On the mound, Johnson and Cunningham will be leaned on to be the workhorses yet again.

While the hard-throwing lefty Johnson has gained a reputation as one of Class B’s top pitchers, Bohmbach is hoping that Cunningham can keep us his strong play from a year ago.

“After the season he had for us, he’ll definitely be getting a lot of innings on the mound early, and probably throughout the whole summer,” Bohmbach said of Cunningham.

The biggest loss for Red Wing will be Zach Laffey, who was the Aces’ top power bat from a year ago. Also gone are Jordan Warren and Mike Hommes.

“We probably have a smaller roster than we did last year,” Bohmbach said. “We’re going to be quite young again, but we have two new players as of right now and we’ll see how we look after the high-school varsity season is over and grab one or two high-school kids.”

Joining Red Wing this year will be Dylan Bjork, a 2014 Pepin grad, and Spencer Schroeder, currently a junior for the Ellsworth baseball team. Spencer is the younger brother of Aces pitcher Brady Schroeder.

The numbers will be low for Red Wing in May, but Bohmbach said a trio of players – Mike Stegora, Joel Newman and Dave Jenson – will be helping the team through the early stretch to help fill in the lineup.

“That’s kind of the story when you have a lot of college kids on the roster; they can’t get back until the beginning of June because of their own games and finals and everything,” Bohmbach said. “I think we’ll be all right as far as numbers go. We’ll be short, but we’ll make due.”

With veterans sprinkled in with a younger group of players, Bohmbach’s hope is that the Aces can find success while going through the growing pains.

“Last year we had Ty (Buck) and Dixon (Irwin) step in and play quite a bit towards the end of the summer, and as good as they did, we’re looking to do that again this summer,” Bohmbach said.

“And then hopefully, the two young guys (Bjork and Schroeder) can come in and do the same; fill in when we need them to and hopefully learn from us.”

By Joe Brown on May 3, 2015 at 12:00 p.m.

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