D-G-F’s trio of starting pitchers has buoyed team to state berth
Dilworth - Isaiah Greene looked around Bob Marshall Field in Dilworth – a place he had played baseball at since seventh grade – and the 19-year-old realized his baseball career with D-G-F’s American Legion team was coming to an end.
“It’s bittersweet,” Greene said Monday. “We made it to state. We proved we were a good enough team. Knowing that this is the last year, this is one of the last practices on this field … it’s bittersweet.”
Greene is part of a pitching triple threat that has D-G-F playing in the Minnesota American Legion Division II state tournament beginning Friday at Redbird Field in Luverne, Minn.
D-G-F went 8-0 in the playoffs, giving up six earned runs in the process. Greene, Tyler Madson and Zach Nelson pitched 47 of the 54 playoff innings and gave up three earned runs. The three combined for 52 strikeouts against 14 walks and 27 hits in the playoff run.
“It makes it a heck of a lot easier on a coach when you can say, ‘Hey, get me seven innings and only give up one run or less and all we have to do is score two or three,” D-G-F coach Mark Kragness said. “Between Zach, Tyler and Isaiah there’s a lot of wins for us this season. Pitching has been outstanding.”
The hardest thing for Kragness is deciding which player to send to the mound.
“It’s a luxury to have three starters and sometimes it’s somewhat hard to pick and choose who is going Game 1, who is going Game 2 and who is going Game 3,” Kragness said. “It’s a good problem to have.”
Each pitcher brings something different. Greene is a righty who throws over-the-top, while Nelson is a righty who has a bit of a side-armed delivery, and Madson is the lefty.
“It’s three different styles of pitching that are all effective,” Greene said. “You can’t prepare for it. Zach can go out there and you’ll see two-seam fastballs and a knuckleball that will come in there and you’ll be like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ Then Tyler comes in and throws a straight fastball and a two-seam fastball that will fall off the table, but looks the same and I have a good curveball and good fastball.”
Nelson made the decision of who would pitch Game 2 pretty easy on his coach. Nelson’s brother is getting married on Saturday, so Greene is getting Game 1 at 9:30 a.m. against Plato, Madson gets Game 2 and Nelson hopes there’s a Game 3 for him to pitch. Nelson’s game would be either the consolation championship or the Division II championship game.
He doesn’t want to see his D-G-F baseball career come to an end, but Nelson especially doesn’t want the other two stealing all the glory.
“They’re both great pitchers, so when they execute I don’t want to look like a bum out there, so I want to go out there and do the same thing, maybe better,” Nelson said. “All three of us work together to get better. We put in a lot of work this summer, a lot of practice, a lot of games and to just have it pay off is great.”
Madson’s career isn’t coming to an end like Greene and Nelson, but that doesn’t mean he is ready to see two-thirds of the D-G-F triple threat come to a close without bringing home a title.
“I had a good feeling about this season,” Madson said. “Now that state is here, it’s time to get the job done.”