Target Field or bust for senior Eagle trio
NEW YORK MILLS — The No. 4A Eagles have been making a strong push for the state championship baseball game the past three seasons and with a strong senior core are ready to make that last step to Target Field this week.
Pitchers Brandon Kupfer and Tyler Patron and catcher Adam Patron make up one of the strongest batteries in the area as can be seen by their numbers.
Kupfer and Patron are a combined 15-0, nine wins for Kupfer with nearly identical ERAs of 0.81 and 0.87 for Patron. Kupfer has won all nine games he has started. Patron has one no decision.
While the two seniors are doing much of the work hurling the ball, they share credit with Adam behind the plate.
“He blocks everything,” said Kupfer. “He’s in my head with every pitch. That’s key. No shaking off.”
Tyler and Adam have an ingrained sense that is about as close as pitcher and catcher can have. The twin brothers were born 48 minutes apart and have shared much of this year’s team success just playing catch to the tune of a 23-0 record.
“They like listening to me, which is nice,” Adam said. “I can tell when they’re not on their game. We’re usually on the same page and just try to get ahead and work the count.”
Adam has garnered more attention this year adding pop to his bat. He was a more conservative hitter his sophomore and junior seasons but has stepped up in the lineup now not just moving leadoff hitter Nick Kupfer up a base but around the bases.
“He’s been great out of the two-hole,” Brandon said.
Adam is third on the team hitting .473 with eight doubles, one home run and 16 RBI. Surprisingly, for a catcher, he is tied for the team lead in stolen bases with 13.
The entire Eagles team is hitting the ball well.
Kupfer leads the team batting a robust .612 with team highs: nine doubles, four home runs, 36 RBI, 41 hits and 62 total bases thanks to 21 walks.
Tyler is hitting .493 with nine doubles, one home run and 29 RBI.
Leadoff hitter junior Nick Kupfer is the fourth Eagle batter hitting over .400 at .432 with 13 steals, eight doubles and a pair of triples. With him at the top it makes the batting order Kupfer, Patron, Kupfer, Patron and continued hitting from that quartet will be essential for the Eagles to reach their goal.
“Nick is just killing the ball and that’s important for a leadoff hitter,” said Brandon.
“He’s just raking it right now,” Tyler said.
All three seniors agree this is the best all-around Eagle team from the past four years of state appearances.
“We’re definitely a heck of a team - probably our best hitting team the past three years,” Adam said.
With so much experience shared together the Eagles are a close knit team and have complimentary personalities up and down the lineup, led by Patron, Patron and Kupfer.
The Patron brothers both share a calm demeanor, which balances out Kupfer’s feistiness.
“He’s fiery,” said Adam.
“Brandon is the hothead, for sure,” Tyler said laughing. “We always have to keep tabs on him to keep his mouth shut every once in awhile.”
The Eagles have a right to talk if they desire. They have won every game this season, including a big win at Perham May 22 that is a highlight of the season so far.
“It was probably the most jacked feeling ever, playing that game,” Kupfer said. “We were playing for something.”
“That was so fun and the best game I’ve played in my life,” said Tyler. “Because of the atmosphere - we wanted to beat those guys bad.”
Beginning Thursday in Chaska, the Eagles, seeded No. 2, will face Ely (21-2) at 5:30 p.m. at Chaska Athletic Park.
A victory will put NY Mills one win from a date at Target Field in the championship game Saturday at high noon.
“I’ve said over and over I want to be there,” said Adam. “I want to play my last game at Target Field.”