There was a conversation with Brian Raabe, the former big leaguer and a now veteran baseball coach at Bethel.
As we were signing off, Raabe said: "There's a pitcher you might want to watch before the MIAC season is over. He's throwing in the 90s and could be transferring to a strong Division I program.''
Location? "He's a sophomore at Carleton,'' Raabe said.
Our Carleton … the mecca of academics that shares Northfield with St. Olaf? That Carleton?
"Yes. Carleton,'' Raabe said. "He went to high school in California. I'm not sure how he got to Carleton, but he doesn't have a typical D-III arm.''
The pitcher mentioned by Raabe was Kiefer Lord, a 2020 graduate from private Menlo School in Atherton, Calif.
On Tuesday, Lord was starting for Carleton in the seven-inning first game of a doubleheader with Augsburg at Parade ballpark on the edge of downtown Minneapolis.
His mother, Tricia, was in attendance, and explained how it was this 19-year-old with a fastball that hits 95 and a sharp slider wound up with a second-division team in the MIAC.
"Kiefer has always loved learning,'' Tricia said. "He was attracted by Carleton's academics. He still is, although baseball kept growing in importance.''
On Tuesday, the wind was blowing in briskly at Parade, and Lord entered having allowed one run in 22 innings in four prior MIAC appearances (three being seven-inning starts).
His opponent was Jake Skogrand, an Augsburg freshman also with a live arm. Augsburg was coming off a pair of 14-0 losses to first-place Bethel on Monday; Carleton had been shut out by last-place Hamline.
There would not be much wiggle room for either pitcher with these modest hitting attacks sending floaters into the wind.
As it turned out, the hardest hit of the game was a fly ball that smashed through the back window of a spiffy Mustang in the adjacent Parade parking lot.
Lord's fastballs, one high heat, the other with tilt, looked unhittable as he struck out the Auggies 1-2-3 in the bottom of the first.
Yet, it was a day when his control was not impeccable, only excellent. Steve Salz singled off a 2-0 pitch in the second. There were a couple of base runners in the third.
And in the fourth, Lord committed a capital offense: He gave up two hits and a run, ending his scoreless streak at 18 innings.
Michael Weiss singled to open the fourth, worked his way to third, and scored on Connor Stoik's single.
Augsburg, 1-0, and that was the final, as Skogrand matched Lord's three-hitter and did not allow a run.
Lord struck out 12, giving him 81 in 49 innings. He gave up six runs in the seventh inning of a game at Claremont Mudd Scripps in California early in the season. Beyond that, this was the fourth earned run off Lord in 48 innings.
He pitched and played infield at Menlo School, with the idea of going out for baseball at Carleton, although not to make it a crusade.
"My dedication to this really started with the COVID shutdown in 2020,'' Lord said. "I watched videos, I studied to find the answers on what I could do with mechanics to throw harder. And from March to June, I gained significant velocity.''
Lord was erratic as a Carleton freshman in a 2021 season limited by COVID. The Lords moved the family to Bend, Ore.
Kiefer didn't have a team last summer, but spent hours at the facility of the Bend Elks, a collegiate team for which he will pitch this summer.
You can follow his progress by checking @kiefer_lord on Twitter. He was confident enough last November to make this his Twitter bio:
"Carleton College '24 RHP. Goal: Transfer to a D1 school with a competitive baseball program and strong academics. Transfer portal ID: 2110362831''
As his workouts and performances gained attention, some prominent West Coast schools took an interest. A University of Washington coach was in attendance last week, when he shut out Bethel 3-0, a one-hitter with eight strikeouts.
Presumably that coach was impressed; for sure, Raabe was. We talked again Tuesday and the Bethel coach said:
"Kiefer Lord is probably the best pitcher I've seen in our league in my 11 years here. He was spectacular against us, and we're hitting .340 as a team.
"Good fastball, excellent slider, control and he pitches with conviction. He can pitch at the higher level, and with what he can gain there, he could be pitching after college.''