THREE LAKES -
Story By Mark Spillane
The saying goes that baseball is a thinking man's game, and secret signs are a big part of a team's strategy.
But for Three Lakes/Phelps, those secret signs are more like secret codes.
"It's one through about 600 and there are colors and different variations," Co-Head Coach Tyler Lorenz.
Blue Jays coaches call out a color or number using wristbands similar to a quarterback's play sheet.
"All they have to do is look down and say 'okay that's my job for this upcoming pitch'," said Lorenz.
It's something Lorenz brought to the program three years ago.
He first saw the method while playing for UW-Stevens Point in 2010.
The team that used the strategy was coached by former New York Yankees third baseman, Scott Brosius.
"I thought 'man, isn't that a simple way to communicate to your players, [to] make sure they're all on the same page'," said Lorenz.
That easy communication is one reason the Blue Jays like their system, especially to help younger players.
"They're not guessing, they're not saying, 'did he really just touch his belt or his hat?' It's a number and if you miss the number or the color, you just tell your coach to repeat it," said Three Lakes senior Brad Sowinski.
But even with a simple system like this one, the Blue Jays faced a learning curve, especially, for the Phelps athletes who joined them as a co-op last year.
"We just did normal signs [at Phelps] like touching the hat and to your wrist would be a steal or something in that order," said Phelps senior Nolan Rosner.
While it's simple for the Blue Jays, the system can seem complicated to opponents.
"There's not one color that means offense, not one color that means defense, it's just all kind of mixed in there so it leaves a lot of confusion," said Sowinski.
Lorenz says sometimes, the Blue Jays might give away their plans for other reasons.
"There [are] a few plays on there that we call as coaches, and [the players] start lighting up, sometimes it might give it away to other teams that something is going on," said Lorenz.
But more often than not, opponents aren't very good at cracking the Blue Jays codes.
"When you call out a number or a color and they think they have it caught on and they say steal or something and it's definitely not a steal at all, it's something else, it kind of makes you chuckle and keeps them on their toes," said Sowinski.
As of Friday the Blue Jays were tied for second place in the Northern Lakes Conference with a 5-1 record.