Courtesy of Myron Fluegge
SEARLES — The Searles Bullheads 35-and-over men’s amateur baseball team lost their final home game of the season on Friday to the Waconia Islanders by a score of 6-1.
Waconia scored early and late in the game, getting two runs in the first inning on three hits and an error. In the seventh inning with the score 2-1, the Islanders scored the other four runs on three hits and walk. Several of the runs were unearned because of defensive misplays by the Bullheads.
Meanwhile, Searles was held scoreless until the fifth inning when they scored their only run. With two outs, Al Brekke doubled and then scored on Craig Schmidt’s single to center field to make the score 2-1. Nate Gusso followed with his second hit of the evening, but he was left stranded along with Schmitz.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Bullheads had a great opportunity to take the lead. Mikale Gustufson and Corey Schaefer led off with singles. Dave Schoen followed with a well-executed sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third and one out. Steve Kloekel hit a line drive off the pitcher, who threw home to get the runner out trying to score. The next batter was also retired.
In the seventh, trailing 6-1, the Bullheads Aaron Breu led off with a single but was unable to score. Of the Bullheads nine hits, Schaefer, Brekke, and Gusso each had two. Dayton Larson pitched all seven innings for Searles, giving up 10 hits. Larson hit two batters, walked four, and struck out two Waconia batters.
The Bullheads currently have a 7-7 record, with one regular season game remaining. The first weekend of the Minnesota Senior Men’s Amateur Baseball Association tournament starts on Friday evening, August 12, with a Hall of Fame game at 6 p.m. in Jordan, followed by a 7:30 p.m. game between the Jordan Millers and their seeded opponent. The Searles Bullheads and all other teams will play their first two games on August 13-14 at either Jordan or St. Peter. The tournament concludes on August 20-21 at the same two sites.
The Searles/Waconia game was played before a large crowd of fans to watch the game and honor LuVerne Kuck. Kuck threw out the first pitch as he completed 75 years involved with baseball as a player, coach, umpire, and PA announcer for the Searles Grizzlies town ball team. Many family members and friends joined in singing happy birthday to LuVerne as he turned 89. Kuck recalled that the longest game he played in was in 1961 when Searles played Mulligan in a 19-inning game at Johnson Park. In one 20-game season, Kuck hit 18 home runs. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.