Park baseball: Fritz’s gem helps Wolfpack top sixth-ranked RangersBehind a three-hit, complete-game shutout by senior pitcher Kyle Fritz, Park topped Suburban East Conference foe Forest Lake 1-0 on Monday in the Wolfpack’s home opener at Granville Smith Field at Park High School.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
A lack of punch at the plate is worrying to Park head coach Kerry Ligtenberg, but a gem by starting pitcher Kyle Fritz meant the Wolfpack didn’t need much offense in its win over highly regarded Forest Lake.
Behind a three-hit, complete-game shutout by Fritz, Park topped Suburban East Conference foe Forest Lake 1-0 on Monday in the Wolfpack’s home opener at Granville Smith Field at Park High School. Fritz, a senior, struck out 10 in the win over the Rangers, who are ranked sixth in Class AAA.
“He threw really well,” Ligtenberg said. “He was able to get ahead and lock guys up inside. He threw a pretty good ballgame overall. It was one of the better games I’ve seen him throw.”
In the win over Forest Lake, Park had only two hits and scored the lone run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Park senior Spencer Diedrich hit a one-out single, then advanced to third base on a pair of wild pitches. While trying to get to third base, Diedrich was able to score on a throwing error by the Rangers’ catcher as the ball got past the Rangers’ third baseman and into left field.
“Forest Lake is probably one of the top two teams in the conference, so it was good. That was a big win early in the season,” Ligtenberg said. “That’s probably how it’s going to go this year. We’re going to have to pitch and scratch and claw to get a run here and there.”
The conference win over Forest Lake was a bit of a relief to Ligtenberg, who wanted his team to avoid an early swoon like the one it began the season off with last year. In 2011, Park started the season 0-4 with four straight conference losses, before rebounding and clawing its way to a 11-11 overall record at year’s end.
“Last year we went into conference play flat,” Ligtenberg said. “I told them it didn’t matter win or lose, I just wanted to play clean baseball. We did that. We just haven’t been hitting very well.”
Prior to the win, Park lost 8-3 to Rosemount and 3-1 to Appleton, Wis., in a pair of non-conference games. In the three games, Park has only 11 hits.
“We’ve really had a tough time putting some hits together,” Ligtenberg said. “Some of it is not being real aggressive. Some of it is that some players, like Drew Flack, have been hitting the ball hard, but don’t have much to show for it yet. I’m hoping things turn around and we start hitting the ball better the rest of the week and the rest of the way.”
Park welcomes SEC foe Roseville to Granville Smith Field today, before traveling to Stillwater on Friday.
“It’s a big week for us,” Ligtenberg said. “If we can get a couple more wins in conference it’d be a good start. But, it’s not like any games are easy in this conference. The more wins we can get the better off we’ll be.”