by Leanne Loy
On Aug. 14, the St. Joseph Joes amateur baseball team played a tough game against the Sartell Muskies. The results of the game determined whether the St. Joseph Joes would move on to the state tournament.
It ended in a 2-1 loss for the Joes. Pitcher Lukas Nyberg had a great season and didn’t make it easy for the Muskies, but there was still a little disappointment.
“It was a close game.” Nyberg said. “They’re always a really good team. We played three tough games against them this year. Sometimes, that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.”
What makes this team pairing interesting is Nyberg was playing against two of his former high school coaches, David Deminsky and Tim Burns, both previous coaches at Apollo High School, who both currently play for the Sartell Muskies. As Nyberg reminisced about his time with his former coaches he remembers promising Burns, his former pitching coach, that someday he would strike him out.
“[Saturday’s game] was a tight pitcher’s duel,” Nyberg said, “but it was fun to strike out my coach from high school…again.”
Nyberg was speaking of Burns who was his hitting coach at Apollo.
“I faced [Nyberg] about a year or two ago when he struck me out for the first time,” Burns said. “But he got a little lucky on that one, the umpire gave him a strike.”
You can hear the playful banter coming from both Nyberg and Burns as they reminisce about their pasts. And there’s pride there too. Deminsky, who pitches for the Muskies, talks about watching Nyberg grow throughout the years.
“In the past he was ineffectively wild, but you can see over the years how much he has gotten his pitches under control,” Deminsky said. “He’s a very gifted pitcher and was always willing to learn and ask questions. We’re a tough offense to beat, and for him to hold us to it, says a lot.”
Both Deminsky and Burns are proud of what they’ve seen in their players as the years go on. Deminsky, who is currently a Sartell High School coach, has a sense of pride when he sees his former players succeed.
“It’s like a feather in our caps,” Deminsky said.
He revealed Nyberg, who will resume playing for Augsburg College this fall, still contacts him for advice from time to time. Just knowing and seeing his former player has listened to his coaching and is utilizing what he learned, gives Deminksy “a sense of pride.”
That feeling is mutual. Even though the Joes lost in the end, Nyberg has no hard feelings.
“Congrats to the Muskies,” he said. “They are a great team. But we will be back.”