The Hastings Hawks opened up their 34th season on Saturday, May 7, with a 5-4 victory over the Ellsworth Hubbers at Veterans Park in Hastings. Second-year manager Shawn Matson, a Hastings native who has been part of the organization for 17 years, since he started as a bat boy, is optimistic heading into this season.

“We have a good nucleus of guys returning along with some nice additions,” he said. “We are adding some more youth, speed and a couple veteran guys that will help with leadership. I think the combination will be good for our club.”

The addition of a couple veterans proved useful for the Hawks opener.

“We didn’t have to scramble for players and even had a couple extra on the bench for the opener,” Matson laughed. “I guess that’s a sign we are coming of age.”

In the past, the Hawks were a very young team and fielding a squad in early May often meant playing with nine, including the manager.

“I didn’t have to even pick up a bat,” he said with a laugh.

The Hawks did pitch by committee in the win over the Hubbers, but even that was by design.

“You don’t want guys who maybe haven’t thrown all winter coming out and tossing six or more innings,” the skipper explained. “It was nice knowing we had the arms on the bench this early in the year. We didn’t even throw a couple guys who will be getting some mound duty.”

Ben Bundschu (Park/Cottage Grove – DCTC) started on the hill for the Hawks. The second-year pitcher/infielder tossed two complete innings, giving up no runs on one hit, one strikeout, no walks and one hit batter. Jaryd Marks (Park/Cottage Grove – Bemidji State) threw the next two and 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on one hit, no walks and four strikeouts. Eric Weber (Hastings – Augsburg) pitched two innings, giving up two runs on two hits with one walk, one strikeout and one hit batter. Brian Amble struggled during his stint on the bump, going 1/3 inning and allowing two runs on one hit with four walks and no strikeouts. Mike Schlottman, one of the new veterans, got the win for the Hawks. He pitched two innings of scoreless ball, issuing one hit, no walks and two strikeouts. Schlottman is a native of New Ulm and Hastings resident who played his college ball at St. Olaf. He is also an assistant coach at Hastings High School and the American Legion team head coach. Combined, the Hawks staff gave up four (three earned) runs on six hits (one for extra bases) striking out eight and walking five. The Hawks defense played well, committing one error.

Hastings was led offensively by Marks, who collected three hits in four at-bats including a double and an RBI. Jordan Jeske (Park/Cottage Grove – University of Sioux Falls) went three for five with a double and a pair of RBI. Eric Harris (Hastings – UW-Stout) knocked out a pair of singles in his three at bats, adding a run scored and one RBI. Cody Marek (Hastings – Concordia St. Paul), Wes Hedlund (Hastings – St. Scholastica) and Hunter Hillstrom (Hastings) all tallied hits for the local nine as well.

“We played good baseball for the first game of the season,” Matson summarized. “We had a lot of guys get some early action and that will benefit us in the long run.”

The Hawks are poised to be a very competitive baseball team for the 2016 campaign. For information regarding upcoming games, events and promotions, go to www.hast

The Hawks next game is Sunday, May 15, at 2 p.m., when they travel to Red Wing to face the Aces in their Classic Cannon Valley League opener.