Youth baseball: What a rideThe St. Paul Park 14- and 15-year-old traveling baseball team won the Minnesota Baseball Tournaments (MBT) state championship in Lakeville recently, defeating Edina (5) by a score of 9-0 and ending its season with a 33-3-3 overall record.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, South Washington County Bulletin
St. Paul Park head coach Don Mullan wouldn’t go so far to call it magic.
But, it sure was something.
The St. Paul Park 14- and 15-year-old traveling baseball team won the Minnesota Baseball Tournaments (MBT) state championship in Lakeville recently, defeating Edina (5) by a score of 9-0 and ending its season with a 33-3-3 overall record.
“Whatever could go right for these guys, did,” Mullan said. “They had a lot of fun playing the game. And there they were — state champs. It was fun to be a part of.”
St. Paul Park will be honored along with the other 16 Minnesota state champions from this year on Target Field during the Twins’ game against Oakland on Friday, Aug. 13.
“That’s something the boys will remember for the rest of their lives,” Mullan said. “They’ll be able to tell their kids they were on that field in its first year after they won the state championship. It’s not curing cancer, but it’s something the boys will be able to hang their hats on. It will be pretty cool.”
In the MBT state tournament, St. Paul Park outscored its opponents a combined 56-6 in six games. According to Mullan, St. Paul Park earned the state title with an all-around effort that included clutch hitting, lights-out pitching and sound defense.
At state, third-seeded St. Paul Park won its pool by beating Prior Lake 6-2 and Chanhassen 11-0. In bracket play St. Paul Park first defeated Apple Valley 13-1 and then Edina (4) 5-0. In the state semifinal, St. Paul Park faced a familiar foe in Woodbury Black, prevailing 12-3, to advance to the championship game. In the final against Edina (5), St. Paul Park jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, added three runs in the second inning and then coasted to a 9-0 win.
At state, two St. Paul Park pitchers each threw two complete games to help lead the way.
Jordan Mullan threw a complete-game, three-hitter in the win over Prior Lake and a six-hit, complete-game shutout of Edina (5) in the championship game. Drew Osborne threw a complete-game, four-hitter in the team’s 11-0 win over Chanhassen and a complete-game, two-hit shutout of Edina (4). Additionally, against Apple Valley, St. Paul Park pitchers Garrett Beaman and Sam Domeier combined to hold Apple Valley to four hits in a 13-1 win.
“It was just such a relief to the rest of our pitchers,” Mullan said. “By the time we got to the semifinals and finals we were, by far, the freshest team. You can’t say enough about how these guys performed.”
At the plate, Taylor Beaman led the way with 12 hits at the state tourney — seven of which were doubles — out of the No. 5 spot. Also, swinging a hot bat were Nick Lenz, who had 10 hits in the six games, Jacob Banaszewski with nine hits, Lukis Schultz with eight hits and Jordan Mullan and Connor Kennedy who each had seven hits.
“All weekend long we got key hits with guys on base,” Mullan said. “The most runs we scored in an inning was only four. We’d just do it almost every inning and we’d get big hits with two outs.”
A number of the St. Paul Park players have played together since Kindergarten and Mullan said he has coached the majority of the players for nine years.
This season, St. Paul Park played in the “A” league, instead of “AA” or “AAA,” which are a slightly higher level of play.
However, St. Paul Park didn’t cut any players who tried out for the team and Mullan said everyone contributed to the team’s state championship title.
“Some of they guys didn’t play quite as much as other guys, but all 16 kids played a lot,” Mullan said. “On this team one to 16 contributed. That was kind of our mantra.”
This year, in addition to winning the MBT state tournament, St. Paul Park also won the championship at a tournament in Owatonna and the MBL Region 4 title and finished in second place in its Inver Grove tournament.
Prior to the state tournament, Mullan said assistant coach Steve Banaszewski had a good feeling about the way the team was playing and told him, “I would hate to play us” at state.
“It seemed like we were hitting on all cylinders,” Mullan said. “And then in that first game, we jumped right on them and never looked back.”