It’s been nearly two years since 2020 Elk River High School graduate Sam Orgon last threw a pitch in a baseball game.
Orgon, who is a freshman on the Luther College baseball team in Decorah, Iowa, last pitched in a game on Wednesday, May 29, 2019, as a member of the Elks in Elk River’s 8-1 loss to Rogers in the first game of the Section 8-4A tournament. He allowed eight runs in four innings.
The COVID-19 pandemic canceled Elk River’s 2020 season, so Orgon didn’t get to pitch during his senior season.
Elks head coach Ryan Holmgren said Orgon was a key part of the Elks pitching staff.
“He was our top guy on the mound as a junior,” Holmgren said. “[He] earned that spot after doing some good things the summer before that as a sophomore. Pitching became his thing and had a good mentality about how to pitch and how to get guys out. Physical skills were there, obviously. He threw a bunch of big games for us as a junior, some good days, some bad days, but he competed and threw well. The hard thing about last year was he was getting better. So many of those guys were getting better. We had a good run in 2019. With our pitching staff, every kid who threw a pitch for us in 2019 was a junior. Sam led that group.
We were working towards, ‘Hey, it’s good. They’re getting skill. They’re getting experience, things like that.’ Sam was right there. We were looking at our entire staff in the mold of what Sam was doing. Some physical talent there, figuring it out, competing, getting better every time. Not having a season last year, I was disappointed in a lot of ways. One of the big ones was I didn’t get to see how that kid was going to progress because I was looking forward to that. I felt like he was scratching the surface of what he could do, learning on the job as a junior. I was looking forward to seeing him take the reins and be the man and get after things as a senior, but, of course, nobody had that opportunity.”
Orgon said many of his best friends are his former Elks teammates.
“The Elk River program has given me my best friends for life,” he said. “Some of my best memories [of playing for the Elks] are the game my junior year [on Friday, May 10, 2019] at Anoka when we won the first-ever “Battle for the Bell.” That was probably one of my favorite memories with them, but even like the summer games and the legion games, we’ve played with the same group of guys almost since we were 10. It’s great to have relationships with everyone on the team and getting to see them move on, too. Some of those guys play college, too. In Elk River, it’s the friendships from baseball that I got, especially playing with them for the last eight years.”
Orgon said he loved playing for Elks head coach Ryan Holmgren.
“I liked Coach a lot,” Orgon said. “You could tell he loves the sport. That’s one thing I always got from coach was that he loved baseball. He plays in another baseball league, too, so you could always tell that when he was at practice, he was solely focused on baseball. He loved to talk baseball and that was always something that I always know shined threw in him at least was the fact that when you’re at baseball, you could tell that he was there because he loved the game and we were there because we loved it. He made practice a lot better.”
Orgon said the Norse’s coaching staff of head coach Bryan Nikkel and former assistant coach Tyler Vaughn drew him to Luther College. Vaughn is now the pitching coach at Wayne State.
“They were nice guys,” Orgon said. “I loved the way they talked and they explained to me about how their program was built. Their personalities drew me here more than other programs. It’s probably the main reason why I came here.”
Nikkel said one of the things that stood out to him and the coaching staff about Orgon when they watched him in high school was his character.
“He’s a strong academic kid,” Nikkel said. “He’s a great teammate and a great competitor and obviously had some great baseball ability to go with it.”
Orgon does have a rough draft of plans for life after college. He wants to be an engineer but is majoring in physics at Luther because it doesn’t offer an engineering degree. He plans to attend another university for graduate school to pursue a degree in engineering. Orgon said he loved math and science when he was younger and that drew him to engineering. His older brother Luke Orgon attends Iowa State University and is an engineering major.
“It seems like something that I want to do for the rest of my life, especially knowing that math and science were something that I enjoyed growing up, something that I was always good at.”
Nikkel said his expectations for Sam’s first season are for him to develop as a pitcher.
“He’s done a great job so far,” he said. “We’ve been getting after it since September. He’s hit every benchmark along the way. The things that are important to us and our program are hard work, character [and] discipline. Sam has excelled in those three areas. He’s been getting after it hard in the weight room and our throwing programs. His velocity is starting to increase as of late. We’re excited for Sam and what the future holds for him as we get rolling this spring and into the future of our program.”