Luther College Chips

Luther Baseball opens season in U.S. Bank Stadium

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Max Uetz (‘18) at bat in the Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Max Uetz (‘18) at bat in the Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Photo Courtesy of D3 Photography

Photo Courtesy of D3 Photography

Max Uetz (‘18) at bat in the Minnesota Vikings stadium.

Shasa Sartin, Staff Writer

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Luther baseball won their season opening double-header 7-5 and 6-5 against Carleton College at the new U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN, on March 1.

In an interview with Chips prior to the games, the Norse were very excited to get back on the field, according to outfielder Gannon Jordahl (‘18).

“I mean, it’s the first game of the season,” Jordahl said. “Playing baseball is what we all love to do. Getting to play whether it’s inside or outside is always really exciting. The new facility — the U.S. Bank [stadium] — is beautiful, so I think we’re all excited to get in there and play baseball.”

The opportunity to play in the U.S. Bank Stadium arose from the demolition of the Metrodome in 2014. The Metrodome was the stadium the Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Vikings, and area schools used for various sporting events. The Norse would otherwise play there for winter games.

Head Baseball Coach Bryan Nikkel said that the team was very excited leading up to using this new venue.

“We were really looking forward to it all year,” Nikkel said. “It was a great experience for our guys, and really fun for our fans to come watch as well.”

Before the game, Luther baseball hosted an alumni social in Minneapolis. There were approximately 80 family members and friends of Luther  baseball in attendance.

“It was definitely exciting and we’re looking forward to playing there every spring,” Nikkel said. “And for us there’s not a lot of options in late February, early March.”

In the winter portion of the baseball season the team plays non-conference games. First-baseman Bryce Hingst (‘19) explained the significance of this part of the season. 

“The beginning of the year is a lot of fun,” Hingst said. “We get to do a lot of traveling. We get to go to U.S. Bank [Stadium] this week, then down to St. Louis this weekend, and play three games there. Then we go up to the Wisconsin Dells the week after that. And then fly down to Arizona for spring break.”

Collegiate baseball teams across the country will normally have non-conference schedules in the first part of their season, infielder Joe Silversmith (‘17) said. Hingst went on to explain why these games are important.

“It’s a lot of playing different teams that [we] don’t really know anything about or really don’t know how they play.” Hingst said. “I think it’s a lot of fun. Just seeing different things, playing in different places.”

Looking ahead to the in-conference games, the team is hoping to continue the energy of their 2016 season.

“We had a really good year last year and now we’ve got to back it up with another good year this year, so it’s going to be fun,” Nikkel said. “I think there’s definitely a target on our back in the conference, but I think that’s a good thing. Are we going to be the real deal or are we going to be a flash in the pan?”

Silversmith noted that this part of the season brings challenges in terms of competition.

“We have a pretty tough beginning schedule, so we want to come out with as many wins as possible,” Silversmith said.

Hingst also reflected on last year’s conference win.

“We want to get back to the conference tournament and win the conference tournament like we did last year,” Hingst said. “I think one of our goals as a team is to kind of run the conference this whole year and win the regular season conference championship.”

Additionally, the Norse hope to nurture their team mentality. Pitcher Collin Nimrod (‘19) explained the importance of a good team atmosphere.

“Baseball is a pure team sport,” Nimrod said. “Being able to help the team out is the most important thing.”

The Luther baseball team lost 14-7 to Washington University on March 4 and played them again in a double-header on March 5, winning the first 9-2 and losing the second 7-5.

Come spring season, Silversmith is hoping for a lot of student support.

“We have a brand new stadium built down there so we want to see people fill it up,” Silversmith said.

The first home game will be played March 31 against Coe College.

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