Jun. 22—Brock Reller stepped to the plate for the Fremont (Neb.) Moo on May 25.
It was his first at-bat of the summer baseball season in the Expedition League, just five days removed from his final collegiate game with the University of Minnesota-Crookston.
The Grand Forks Central graduate had little time to prepare for the switch to wood bats, which are used in the Expedition League.
"The first week or two, you're always scared to break a bat or two," Reller said. "Once that goes by, the adjustment goes out the window."
There wasn't much need for the Grand Forks Central graduate to make adjustments. On that first at bat, Reller blasted a 1-1 pitch over the fence for a two-run home run, and he hasn't slowed down.
Reller has been arguably the best hitter in the Expedition League this summer. He leads the league in home runs with seven. He's hitting .415, which ranks fifth, and his 21 RBIs rank sixth. Reller has posted at least one hit in 16 of the 17 games he's played this summer.
This week, Reller will be back home in Grand Forks for three games as Fremont takes on the Wheat City Whiskey Jacks at Kraft Field. The teams will play at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday and then a doubleheader at 5:35 and 8:05 p.m. Thursday. Only one ticket is needed for both games Thursday.
It will mark the first game at Kraft in years for Reller, who starred for the Knights and hit more career home runs than any Grand Forks Royals legion baseball player.
"I'm sure a lot of memories will come flooding back," Reller said. "I've always loved playing at Kraft. Why not go back and play a couple more games? It will be fun."
Reller started his college career at Iowa Central before transferring to Minnesota-Crookston, where he led the Golden Eagles to their best run in program history. As a senior, Reller batted .338 with 17 home runs, earning first-team all-Northern Sun honors.
Reller, who will play his graduate year at Northeastern State in Tahlequah, Okla., is spending his third summer in a row with Fremont, which is located just outside of Omaha.
Last summer, Reller hit .298 with four home runs. He's blowing those numbers away this year.
"The competition is here and there," Reller said. "It's still as fun as the first year, that's for sure. We're just all having fun playing baseball. That's what summer baseball is all about."
Fremont (16-6) started the season with 11-straight wins, but they got swept by the Badlands Big Sticks over the weekend.
"We all started off pretty hot coming from our college seasons," Reller said. "We won like 11 in a row, but we've cooled down lately. That's to be expected. It's baseball. You can't win every single game."
This week, Reller will be going against his Minnesota-Crookston teammate Jake Hjelle of East Grand Forks. Those two finished 1-2 on the Golden Eagles in both batting average and home runs this season.
Like Reller, Hjelle has been a top hitter this summer for the Whiskey Jacks. Hjelle leads Wheat City in batting average (.339), runs (17), doubles (seven) and RBIs (13).
"I'll razz him a little bit if I get on base and he's playing first," Reller said of Hjelle. "After playing the past two years together, we're pretty good friends. I didn't remember playing against him in high school, but I'll remember playing him now."
Who: Wheat City Whiskey Jacks vs. Fremont (Neb.) Moo.
When: 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, 5:35 and 8:05 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Kraft Field.
Tickets: Available at Kraft Field. One ticket gets fans into both games Thursday.
Of note: East Grand Forks grad Jake Hjelle (Wheat City) and Grand Forks Central grad Brock Reller, teammates at Minnesota-Crookston this spring, will go head-to-head.