John’s Journal: New Season, New Hopes For 2021 State Champions
After Weather Barriers, Farmington Baseball Team Finally Plays A Game
Posted: Monday, April 11, 2022 - 9:17 PM
When the Farmington High School baseball team took the field on Monday afternoon, it was the first time the Tigers had been on their home diamond since last season. That was a memorable season, too, with Farmington winning the Class 4A state championship 31 miles away at Target Field.
But here they were, hosting Eastview in the season opener for both teams. This was a third shot at starting the season for the Tigers, who had been scheduled to play Rochester Mayo and Rochester John Marshall the previous week ... but as we know, spring in Minnesota can play havoc with outdoor events.
Even 24 hours before the first pitch, Tigers coach Jon Graff wasn’t certain that the weather or the field conditions would be sufficient to play.
“I left here yesterday after dragging everything and it was like, ‘It's gonna be close,’ ” he said after Eastview defeated Farmington 7-4 in a game dominated by sterling pitching.
Eastview starter T.J. Egan, a lefty who has signed with the University of Minnesota, struck out 12, walked five and gave up three hits in five innings. Farmington’s Zach Dohrmann, who will play next season at North Iowa Area Community College, struck out nine, walked none and gave up three hits in four innings.
Farmington was held without a hit until the bottom of the fifth, when singles by Mason Conrad and Kyle Hrncir were followed by a double from Connor Weed. That helped make the score 3-3 before Eastview locked up the win with a four-run sixth.
Farmington has 10 players returning from the state championship team, resulting in plenty of optimism for the new season. A banner celebrating the 2021 title was unveiled below the big scoreboard in left-center field before the game.
“I was just happy to be out here and get on the field,” said Hrncir, who was the winning pitcher in the Tigers’ 12-10 victory over Park in last year’s 4A title game. “We've been stuck in the gym so a little rust showed but it’s definitely good to be out here. It was a nice day.”
The temperature was 56 degrees when Dohrmann’s first pitch was called for a strike at 4:28 p.m., preceded by four Farmington students standing behind home plate and knocking out a wonderful acapella national anthem. Fans sat in lawn chairs, some under blankets and winter coats, some hanging onto their dog’s leashes. High school boys sat in the metal bleachers in t-shirts and shorts.
The sky was blue, big clouds blocked out the sun at times and cleared a path for warmth at other times. The grass was greenish, the trees had buds.
The Tigers had spent a few days in Florida this spring, working out and scrimmaging and escaping the Minnesota spring. Before Monday, however, they had not been able to practice outdoors in more than a week.
“I think it showed a little bit,” said Graff, not having to mention his team’s five errors (compared to four hits). “We’ve got work to do but let's find out what those things are.”
Hunter Frost and his Farmington senior classmates know that the defending state champions, with a large number of returning veteran players, are on every opponent’s radar.
“Everybody's out to get us like,” he said. “We're obviously the number one ranked team in the state and I like how we’ve got a target on our back. We’re going to see the best games out of everybody. I just like that competition.”
--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org