The first pitch from Midway’s Cory Odland crossed the plate at 1:08 p.m. and a sense of normalcy returned as the Midway Snurdbirds hosted the Bluffton Braves for an exhibition on June 14 at Matt Leritz Field in Midway.

Veteran umpire Darwin Bachmann makes a strike call during the first inning of an exhibition game between Bluffton and Midway Sunday, June 14 at Matt Leritz Stadium. Robert Williams / Forum News Service
Veteran umpire Darwin Bachmann makes a strike call during the first inning of an exhibition game between Bluffton and Midway Sunday, June 14 at Matt Leritz Stadium. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

The defending Region 14C Champion Bluffton Braves were in mid-season form as they pushed 18 runs across in an 18-2 victory over the Snurdbirds in the first game of the season. However, for many in attendance, it was not about the score, it was about getting outside and attending a competitive event.

“It’s like you are a little kid again to get back on the field and do what you love doing,” Bluffton’s Dustin Geiser said. “It’s amazing how quickly it felt like a normal Sunday. Right away in the first inning, it felt like any other day of the year. It was a good. Today, the outcome would have mattered absolutely zero. Getting on the field and doing what I have done for 20 years now, it was a good day.”

Minnesota Amateur Baseball announced earlier this week that teams could start playing exhibitions, despite the most recent executive order from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz. Teams must get approval from the city or school that maintains the field to host a game. Currently, Deer Creek and Midway are two local fields that have received approval, with many teams working on obtaining that in the area.

Bluffton's Wyatt Hamann makes a putout at first base to retire Midway's Ray Mueller during Sunday's exhibition game in Midway. Robert Williams / Forum News Service
Bluffton's Wyatt Hamann makes a putout at first base to retire Midway's Ray Mueller during Sunday's exhibition game in Midway. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

Bluffton outfielder/pitcher Kevin Tumberg said it was great to get out on the field and compete against another team. The Braves have been scrimmaging against themselves on Friday evening at their field in Bluffton.

“The guys have been itching to go against somebody else and experience baseball,” Tumberg said. “We had a lot of young guys miss out on whether it was a college or a high school season. We have a lot of baseball coaches between New York Mills and Wadena-Deer Creek and guys are just itching. We are happy to be back out here.”

The Braves started the game with a seven-run inning and never looked back in the road win. Kyle Dykhoff drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly and Wyatt Hamann had the games’ first extra base hit when he connected for a two-run double in the seven-run first inning. Hamann finished with two hits and three runs batted in.

Five Bluffton pitchers combined to allow just two Midway runs. Justin Dykhoff earned the win. He went the first three innings and did not allow a hit. He struck out four and walked two while hitting one batter.

Dustin Geiser and the Bluffton Braves pitching staff were in control all game while the Midway Snurdbirds' pitchers battled control problems in a Braves exhibition victory at Midway Sunday, June 14. Robert Williams / Forum News Service
Dustin Geiser and the Bluffton Braves pitching staff were in control all game while the Midway Snurdbirds' pitchers battled control problems in a Braves exhibition victory at Midway Sunday, June 14. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

Midway pitchers struggled to find the strike zone in the game, they combined to issue 13 walks and four hit batters during the game.

Alexander Jimenez drove in the only runs for Midway with a double to left center field off Jake Dykhoff. Dykhoff struck out five and walked one in his two innings of work.

The Braves scored runs in six of the eight innings played and put up multiple run innings in five of the six innings they scored runs.

Justin Dykhoff finished with three hits, while Jake Dykhoff, Hamann and Payton Rondestvedt had two hits each for the Braves. Josh Dykhoff, Tom Tellers and Cody Geiser added hits for Bluffton as well.

Justin Dykhoff rounds third base on his way to score in a solid offensive showing for the Bluffton Braves in exhibition play at Midway Sunday afternoon. Robert Williams / Forum News Service
Justin Dykhoff rounds third base on his way to score in a solid offensive showing for the Bluffton Braves in exhibition play at Midway Sunday afternoon. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

Sam Beck led the way for the Snurdbirds at the plate. He had two of the team’s three hits, including a double that broke up the combined no-hit bid in the fourth.

Dustin Geiser said it was an amazing feeling returning to the diamond for a competitive game for the first time this season.

“You take something so for granted and to be able to do it again was pretty cool,” Geiser said.