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Silver Pirates open season with two wins

The Silver Pirates quest for a Northwest Minnesota League (NWM) title is on track as they opened the season with a pair of victories Saturday in Nisswa.

A year ago, the Silver lads finished in second place of the NWM league standings with an 8-2 record as the Alexandria Clippers won the league title with a 9-1 mark.

The Pirates opened 2010 play with a 3-2 victory over the Menahga-Sebeka Relics in the opening game of a triple-header in Nisswa.

Greg Schmid was the mound victor, as he allowed two runs on four hits and scattered six bases on balls. When the going got tough Schmid seemed to get tougher as he got the Relics to pound the ball into the ground and had some timely strikeouts. Two of those strikeouts came in the last frame with runners in scoring position.

Schmid struggled some with control in his first outing but his curveball was sharp and the defense was perfect behind him.

Shortstop, Tony Stoll handled nine chances flawlessly and Jim Nelson chipped in three neat plays at third base. When the throws weren't perfect Gary Grewe (newcomer at first base) was sharp picking balls out of the dirt.

Centerfielder Jason McClellan, made the lone outfield putout as he snagged a fly ball in the third inning.

Player of the game honors go to Tony Stoll, as he was perfect in the field and two for four at the plate with a pair of doubles. Tony also scored a run and drove in two.

Gary Grewe, Greg Schmid and Brad Kempe also chipped in hits.

Jim Belfiori put in a stellar performance behind the plate as he was snagging Schmid's curve balls and calling a good game.

The Nisswa "Merchants" were the Silver Pirates second victim of the day as the Perham boys held on for a 12-6 nightcap victory.

Nisswa awarded Perham twelve free passes and a pair of hit batsman to go along with twelve hits.

The Pirates put seven runs on the board in the first inning and sent the Merchants starting pitcher to the showers before he could retire two Silver Pirates batters. Larry Mollins and Jim Belfiori collected hits in the first to go along with six walks and Jim Nelson taking a pitch for the team.

Nice defensive plays were turned in by a pair of Pirate outfielders - Jason McClellan stole a hit away from a Merchant batter as he raced in to snare a line drive in short left-center field. Brad Kempe turned in a similar play from his right-field position.

Newcomer, Gary Grewe played a stellar first base in both games - digging balls out of the dirt as well as fielding his position.

Catcher, Jim Nelson has a reputation for gunning runners out attempting to steal and he did it against Nisswa for a key out in the fourth inning to cut a Merchants rally short. Two double plays also aided the Silver Pirates cause.

Gary Lackey turned in a nice performance in his first mound appearance and seemed to bear down when he needed too.

Player of the game - there were two legitimate candidates in this game.

Gary Grewe was three for four with a run scored, an RBI and a walk together with some nice plays at first base.

Jason McClellan was three for three, scored three runs, drove in two runs, had a pair of "crisp" doubles, walked and had a sacrifice - along with playing a stellar left-field.

Other players with hits - Mollins and Belfiori had two each, while Nelson and Kempe each chipped in a hit,

Next game for the Silver Pirates will be Thursday June 10, as they travel to Menahga to face the Relics.

There are seven teams in the Northwest Minnesota League this season - the teams and their final standings for 2009 are listed below:

Alexandria Clippers 9-1

Perham Silver Pirates 8-2

Menahga-Sebeka Relics 5-4

Fergus Falls Ancients 5-4

Urbank Goldtimers 1-9

Nisswa "Merchants 1-9

Carlos Whitecaps - newcomers to the league.