MN Icemen survive rough patch, pave way to 14u D1 SlumpBuster title

June 17, 2024

ELKHORN, NE – If Minnesota Icemen head coach Ryan Semans had the power, he might have stopped Sunday’s 14u D1 championship game at the Omaha SlumpBuster for a quick fundamentals clinic.


Having already displayed savvy and skill through the finals bracket, it was quite the shock to see the Icemen (Twin Cities, MN) commit three errors in the bottom of the first inning against Prolific Select (Highlands Ranch, CO). The hiccups allowed three unearned runs to score and bit into the lead the Icemen had built by scoring five times in the top of the frame.


But before dread or panic could set in, the Icemen settled down and used their mutual belief in the roster to construct a16-6 run-rule victory in five innings. After the outburst of errors, the Icemen instead broke the game open with their approach at the plate, taking multiple walks when offered and then being ready to swing when they got a pitch to drive.


The Icemen scored four times in the second inning to rebuild the lead, then capped it with a five-run fourth inning.


“I knew we were going to bounce back. It’s a great group of guys, we’ve played together for a while and trust each other,” said Henry Semans, who threw three effective innings as the starting pitcher and had a triple, home run and two RBI at the plate. “We all work in our(at-bats). We don’t try to do too much. You get runners in scoring position, put the ball in play.

“I had some nerves there (pitching), but you try to rely on the basics. I know I’m there for a reason.”

Brayden Reich had three hits and two RBI, Sam Coles drove in three runs, and both Juri Lubovich and Jake Murphy drove in two more.


“We just had to bounce back, make some plays, do the job offensively and back your guys up,” Reich said. “You have to know the right time to swing. From the very first game, it was our hope here to win it all.”


Another big at-bat came with two outs in the third when Sam Smude hit a two-run double. That pushed the Icemen into double figures in runs, a nice bit of relief when it certainly seemed like a big offensive day would be necessary to secure the win.


“I was looking at, are we still throwing strikes? I mean, physical mistakes on the field are going to happen, but you have to make sure the team is supporting each other,” coach Semans said. “When you make mistakes, you feel like you’re on an island. We were still up two runs after that crazy first inning, but you just need to reset and move forward.


“(Smude’s) hit was big – it was a 2-1 count and the ball was coming in low, and I thought it was too low. But he got his barrel on it and put it in a good spot. When you get an umpire who’s calling a true zone, you have to look for your pitch early. Our motto is, the first two strikes are for you, the last one is for the team. The focus was to get something down the middle and do some damage.”


Shane Christy had two hits and two RBI for Prolific; Brady Harmon doubled, scored two runs and had an RBI, and Colton Duman had a hit and an RBI.