Brainerd Mighty Gulls head coach Kyle Crookes was a bundle of nerves heading into his team's home opener against the St. Cloud River Bats Friday night.
And who could blame him? He had always been an assistant, helping his teams behind the scenes, never in the limelight.
"I'm kind of a fidgety guy," Crookes said. "I was real fidgety, looking for something to do. I got here about three hours early. I had a lot of nervous energy. I still do, so I was just trying to find a way to keep still and not get my players nervous."
Turns out Crookes did not really need to worry as Brainerd yielded just two hits in a 4-2 victory over St. Cloud, last year's league runner-up.
Former Minnesota Twins Jerry Koosman waved to the crowd at Mills Field before he threw out the first pitch at the Brainerd Mighty Gulls season opener Friday night.
"For a debut for me, it's as good as I can take it," Crookes said. "It's a 'W' either way and our guys played hard. That's what I care about."
It looked like it might be time to worry just two batters into the game. After Bobby Torres walked the leadoff batter he gave up a double to River Bats' left fielder Evan Howard to score a run early in the game. Two batters later, Dustin Atkinson pushed Howard across to give St. Cloud a 2-0 lead.
But Torres settled down to shut out the River Bats through the next five innings to earn the win. He went six innings and yielded just one hit and four walks while striking out six batters.
"I was a little nervous in the beginning, getting the kinks loose," Torres said. "Once I got into it I was all right.
"I had about three weeks of rest, so it was good for the arm to come out here fresh. It's nice being out here. It's a good opportunity, too, to get a lot of nice work in."
Brainerd's Damon White shut down St. Cloud with two innings of middle relief, striking out four batters along the way and giving up one hit. Dustin Braud got the save with a scoreless ninth in which the Mighty Gulls turned a double play.
Omar Rivero drove in Brainerd's first run with a single in the second that scored Ben Vannatter, the catcher from last year's Mighty Gulls team. The Gulls took the lead with two more in the third thanks to Blake Denischuk's double off the outfield wall and a St. Cloud error. Brainerd picked up one more in the fifth on Matt Rebout's RBI single.
Steve Adams, Ronnie Seets and Denischuk all went 2-for-4 for the Gulls and each scored a run.
St. Cloud pitcher Jarret Sues took the loss. He gave up all four runs in 4 1/3 innings on eight hits and a walk while striking out three batters.
"I think overall we played well," Torres said. "We hit the ball when we needed to and we made the right plays."
St. Cloud 200 000 000 -- 2 2 2
Brainerd 012 010 00x -- 4 9 0
St. Cloud -- Jarret Sues, J.D. Seger (5), Adam Brandenburg (8) and Kody Valverde. Brainerd -- Bobby Torres, Damon White (7), Dustin Braud (9) and Ben Vannatter. W -- Torres (1-0). L -- Sues (0-1). S -- Braud (1). WP -- Torres, White. HP -- Ryan Jakubov (by Torres). DP -- Brainerd. LOB -- St. Cloud 6, Brainerd 7. 2B -- Evan Howard, Blake Denischuk. Sac -- Joe Gaetti, Ryan Finan. SB -- Jakubov, Ben Quinto, Steve Adams, Ronnie Seets.
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