Parkers fall in postseason opener
St. Paul Park’s players tossed their gloves up into the air as they headed toward the dugout last Wednesday night in Burnsville.
They were doing it because the season was over.
The Parkers fell 11-1 in seven innings to Rosemount in the sub-state playoffs in their first and final postseason contest of the season.
Last Wednesday provided a microcosm of the Parkers struggles throughout the season. St. Paul Park (11-28) committed four errors in the field, though coach Matt Doornink estimated his squad may have botched 30 percent of its opportunities in the field.
“We definitely beat ourselves,” Doornink said. “Just a lack of aggression to go make a play is what part of it is.”
Those defensive miscues hampered an otherwise solid performance from Jake Lopez on the mound. Lopez struck out four in six innings of work while allowing just seven hits.
The outing wrapped up a stellar summer for Lopez on the mound. He picked up six of the Parkers 11 wins and posted a 2.94 earned run average while tossing five complete games.
But again last Wednesday, the offense was not there to pick him up.
St. Paul Park struck out 11 times at the plate, running their season total to 219 punchouts -- 30 more than Doornink said any previous team had posted during his tenure.
“Another game making zero adjustments on a slightly above average pitcher,” Doornink said.
The strikeouts compounded on the Parkers offensive problems throughout the summer. St. Paul Park hit just .254 on the campaign.
But there were a few bright spots offensively last Wednesday. Brad Peterson went 2-for-3 with a run batted in at the dish, moving his hitting streak to 13 games to end the season. JT Bickel and Kaleb Fischer also posted doubles in the loss.
Jeb Melson led the Parkers offense for much of the summer. He hit .406 en route to leading the team in hits (41) and stolen bases (14).
St. Paul Park’s offense was without one of its key cogs last Wednesday. Tavier Simmons missed the game, taking away a valuable bat and glove from the Parkers lineup. Simmons hit .287 on the season and swiped 13 bags.
“It hurt quite a bit,” Doornink said. “Add Tavier to the infield or the outfield and he’s going to make us better.”
But Simmons and the majority of the lineup can return to the Parkers next season, and Doornink said early indications are that they want to. The only player who won’t be eligible to play next summer is Bickel, who hit .344 at the plate in 2014 and led the team in doubles with nine.
All of the returning bats would be a great help to a team that struggled with inexperience for much of the summer. Doornink said 11 wins was pretty good for a roster that featured just 28 percent of Park’s spring varsity team’s batting order and 15 percent of its innings pitched.
If the majority of this year’s Parkers squad returns next season, inexperience shouldn’t be much of an issue in 2015.
“We bring back some experience,” Doornink said. “ Add those guys and a few underclassmen who are solid and we’ll be a pretty solid team.”