2020 Season Recap
In case you slept through the entire summer, here are the highlights!
On May 26th, 2020 Larks General Manager, John Bollinger, unveiled a three team, 72-game plan that would mean baseball in the midst of a global pandemic. The Bismarck Larks capped off the memorable 2020 season with a 5-0 win in game three of a best-of-three series against the Mandan Flickertails.
The Larks soared at the start of the season, winning their first four games and starting the season off 7-3 in their first ten games. The Larks were led early on by great pitching and great tablesetters at the top of their lineup in leadoff batter Wyatt Ulrich and Larks second baseman Brant Schaffitzel. Ulrich was able to put together an eight game hit streak within his first ten games in which he batted .378 with 14 runs scored. As for the other end of the Larks tough one-two punch atop their strong lineup, in addition to Wyatt Ulrich second baseman Brant Schaffitzel also enjoyed a successful 2020 campaign. Schaffitzel would finish his first season with the Larks with 30 walks and a .322 average. Behind the one-two punch atop their order and some great pitching from their starting rotation, the Larks would finish the regular season 35-15 and in first place in the North Dakota Division.
The Mandan Flickertails had a stellar 2020 season. Arguably having the most talented roster to start the year with 24 Division I players, the Flickertails would battle the Larks for first place until the final weeks of the season. The Flickertails would finish the season an even .500 at 24-24 and nine games back of the Larks for first place in the North Dakota Region. Flickertails starter and recent Minnesota Twins signee, John Wilson, was among an incredible pitching staff that posted great numbers. Wilson would finish the season 2-1 in 22 innings of work and collected 19 strikeouts. The best left-handed pitcher in Bismarck, Wilson finished his season with an ERA of 0.00. He was a part of a great rotation that included the likes of RHP Ben Schoneman (1-1, 3.33 ERA in 27 innings), RHP Nick Hill (2-2, 2.54 ERA in 28.1 innings) and RHP Tyler Stretchay (1-2, 3.12 ERA in 26 innings).
New players arrived following a 5-day break in the season schedule on August 3rd. Very few players from the initial opening-day rosters would stay in Bismarck to finish the season due to many of the players having to return to gear up for their schools fall seasons. Despite struggling in the first part of the season, the Bull Moose welcomed several new additions and would enjoy success the weeks following the five-day break. Outfielder Dane Nakatsuka and third baseman Quentin Evers would be among the Bull Moose additions to make significant contributions to their team. Nakatsuka would start in all of the Bull Moose remaining 15 games and hit .344 with 14 RBIs. Even though Nakatsuka was not here at the start of the season playing in 15 fewer regular season games than the team RBI leader in Torin Montgomery, Nakatsuka would drive in 14 runs and was one of the most successful hitters of the season.
Here are some of the other memorable stories from the 2020 season:
Mr. Lark Enters The NWL History Books
- On June 19th, in a comfortable 13-4 win over the Bull Moose, Mr. Lark surpassed the 137 runs scored of former La Crosse Logger, Mason McCoy. Ulrich would finish his four-year career with the Larks with 169 runs scored. Ulrich led the Larks and the North Dakota Division with 39 hits in 2020.
Farewell to Mr. Lark
- Wyatt Ulrich played in his final game with the Larks on August 11th in a 9-3 win over the Bull Moose. Ulrich would go 1-5 at the plate with two runs scored, and made an outstanding jump throw on a 8-6-4 putout of Bull moose outfielder Dane Nakatsuka before getting pulled from the game by Manager Will Flynt to leave to a standing ovation.
Wesselmann Shines In Two Starts
- Bull Moose starter Jacob Wesselmann gave one of the best performances from a pitcher on the season in a 5-3 win against the Larks on August 20th. Wesselmann went seven innings allowing just two earned runs and recorded 14 strikeouts of Larks batters. Wesselmann only made two starts for the Bull Moose, but was 1-0 with 25 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.29.
Kiss it Goodbye
- A total of 34 home runs were hit at Municipal ballpark this season. Twenty-two different players homered. The Flickertails led the way with 16 home runs coming from nine different players.
- Despite only being in Bismarck for one week on a short contract, Larks infielder Tim Simoes belted three homeruns in just five games. The most impressive of the three homers came in Simoes’ very first at-bat with the Larks. In an 8-4 win vs. the Bull Moose on July 9th, Simoes hit a grand slam over the right field ivy. Simoes would finish the game 1-4 and hit .333 with the Larks in five games.
Winning Made To Look Easy!
- The longest winning streak of the season was the Larks winning eight in a row in July. The streak tied the Larks franchise record with the other streak coming in 2018. The Flickertails longest win streak of the season was six back in late June.
- Larks’ Seth Brewer and the Bull Moose’ Paxton Miller led the North Dakota Division in strikeouts in 2020. Seth Brewer finished the regular season 4-0 in seven starts (41.1 innings) and recorded 49 punch-outs. Paxton Miller recorded one more strikeout than Brewer in two less starts. Miller went 2-3 and hit 50 as his 2020 strikeout total.
The Hage Page
- Larks first baseman Cole Hage only participated in eight regular season games, but man did he deliver! The Fargo native was 11-27 (.407) with two RBIs and five doubles. The five doubles are the second most only to Connor Henriques who played in 22 more games than Hage. To cap off his short, but marvelous season, Hage hit the postseason-high .545 with three doubles in the championship series en route to being named series MVP.
Thank you fans, sponsors, employees, host families, and everyone else who made this amazing crazy year possible!