Sean Repay spent countless hours scouting and recruiting players to put together the Bismarck Larks’ roster. Now, after three quick practices over the holiday weekend at Municipal Ballpark, it’s time to hit the ground running.
“These guys are coming together,” the Larks manager said on Monday as his team worked out at the ballpark in preparation for tonight’s season opener. “In such a short amount of time, they have to build some chemistry.
“I’ve always been asked that — what’s the hardest part of doing this. It’s building chemistry because you have three days to work together and then you start that grind of a 70-plus game schedule.”
The Larks open their first season in the summer collegiate all-star league tonight, when they host the Eau Claire (Wis.) Express at 7:35 p.m. And Repay likes what he’s seen so far from his squad as the players made their way to Bismarck and started to work out together at the ballpark.
“These guys have been great so far,” Repay said. “They’re hanging out with each other outside of the park. They’re getting to know each other. I’m starting to see a little bit of joking around with each other and some shenanigans in the dugout. … They’re really warming up to each other, which is a great sign. We have a great group here.”
Repay took a different approach to building the Larks, putting more of an effort into finding good players at all levels rather than just looking at big-time programs.
“I wanted to find the right guys,” Repay said. “I went out and looked at … every level — D-I, D-II, NAIA, juco, D-III — and I found the best baseball players in the country at every level. That’s something I went after and it was a long, grind-it-out process, but I think we have the right pieces here.”
The Larks have some local talent on the roster.
Quinn Irey, a Bismarck High graduate, is coming off his third season at Jamestown. He’s hitting .313 with 12 doubles, five homers and 39 RBIs for the Jimmies while playing solid defense behind the plate. Mandan native Trever Leingang, also a catcher, has a career batting average of .308 in two years at Bismarck State.
Mandan grad Parker Harm is one of two North Dakota State players on the roster. He posted a 3.11 ERA in 37.2 innings during his freshman season with the Bison.
Infielder Mason Pierzchalski, another Bison player, has a .274 career average at NDSU.
Infielder Spencer Gillund, an Enderlin native, is coming off an impressive freshman season at BSC. He hit .410 with 11 doubles, three triples and six stolen bases for the Mystics.
When the team takes the field for the first time tonight, Repay will hand the ball to Ryan Bird as the team’s opening-day starter. Bird, a Spokane, Wash., native, pitched the last two seasons at Spokane CC and will join Creighton in the fall for his junior season.
Repay plans on mixing up his lineup.
“I have everything on paper right now the way I want to do it on opening night,” he said. “You know that’s going to change. I’m not big on just rolling the same lineup night it and night out and letting it figure itself out.
“These guys are here to play, and I’m going to let them play. I want them to showcase themselves.”
The Larks plan on using a six-man rotation to give the starters an extra day of rest.
“We have some great arms, both in the rotation and in the bullpen,” Repay said. “It’s going to be fun to watch this all play out.”
Repay likes the speed on his roster, and he expects to run and play at a fast tempo. And they probably won’t be giving away too many outs to move runners over.
“I told the guys, we’re not going to bunt a whole lot,” Repay said. “These guys are here to showcase their abilities to scouts. They’re the best baseball players in the country for a reason — it’s because they can swing the bats. So we’re going to let them do it.”