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Koerper Brothers Provide Punch in Mustangs Lineup

St. Joseph has pushed past a couple dry spells this season thanks to a pair of potent hitters.

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Mustangs manager Matt Johnson ran into a tough situation less than a month into the 2013 season.

St. Joseph was losing four key hitters -- three for exciting opportunities and one for a nagging injury.

Michael Schulze and Grant Fink were both drafted and signed by the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians organizations, respectively. Kyle Simpon signed a contract to play for the Alexandria Aces, an independent league team, and Shane Segovia returned to Columbia to rehab a hamstring injury at Mizzou.

But St. Joe has persevered through all of that thanks to the Koerper brothers.

"They've done a really nice job filling in for the guys that we've lost, and really stepping up their game when we needed it the most," Johnson said. "Most of the time they've been the ones driving the runs in or coming up with the big hit."

"It's just what happens," Kris said of the situation. "You get used to it on a baseball team where guys get hurt, people move around in the lineup and you just try to perform your best in the role that you're given."

They are shining in their expanded roles thus far. Kris and younger brother Joe have combine for the second most RBI (43) and home runs (7) by a pair of teammates in the MINK League.

"I felt a little pressure at first because I realized that the weight kind of was on our shoulders," Joe said. "But I just decided to be as relaxed as possible and enjoy this time and play to the best of my abilities and have fun. And so far it's worked out."

This summer is the first time the Koerper boys have played together since high school.

Joe returned from his two year Mormon mission last summer, and began his career at New Mexico State last fall.

To be closer to his brother, Kris transferred from Delta State to New Mexico State to join Joe.

"I really wanted to go back and play with him my senior year," Kris said. "That's something that not a lot of people get to do."

And when they're on the field together, they thrive.

"We feed off each other," Joe said. "We always have when we've been playing together. I really enjoy playing with him."

With his brother batting behind him in the lineup, Kris is having his best summer in St. Joe, despite sitting out the spring baseball season due to transferring.

Through 26 games with the Mustangs, he's batting .371 with five home runs and 28 RBI; stats that are well above previous years.

"This is the first summer where I really haven't cared about my statistics, and I think that's showing in the way that I'm hitting. I don't really care about how many RBIs I have, what my average is, how many home runs I have, I just want to help the team win."

"He's a lot more patient," Johnson said. "He knows how guys are going to pitch him. His first year here they went inside, and he had a really long swing and they could see that. This year he's more patient on the outside half, really swinging at pitches he can handle. He's been doing a really nice job with his approach."

The big numbers are just icing on the cake for the Koerpers.

"We cherish it," Kris said. "We are absolutely just having a blast out here in St. Joseph this summer. We haven't played together since high school, so it's been a really fun time so far."
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