Park baseball: Wolfpack’s swoon continuesThe Park baseball team’s losing streak hit eight games with a pair of Suburban East Conference losses to Mounds View and Cretin-Derham Hall last week.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
The Park baseball team’s losing streak hit eight games with a pair of Suburban East Conference losses to Mounds View and Cretin-Derham Hall last week.
Park is now 1-10 overall and 1-8 in the SEC.
“It’s been frustrating,” Park head coach Kerry Ligtenberg said. “Compared to last year’s group I thought we had more talent. It’s been tough.”
Park’s hitting has been the biggest problem. The Wolfpack fell 4-1 at Mounds View on Wednesday and 6-0 to Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul on Friday. On the year, Park has scored only 18 runs in its 11 games.
“I don’t know if I spent too much time on defense this winter, because that was our concern going into the season after having problems defensively last year,” Ligtenberg said. “Defensively we’ve been better. But, it’s irritating. I’m kind of at a loss with what to do at this point.”
Park is hitting .192 as a team thus far. With a minimum of 30 plate appearances, senior Drew Flack leads the Wolfpack in batting with a .235 average. He has a team-best eight hits, a team-leading three extra-base hits and a team-best four RBI. Spencer Diedrich is just behind him in each category, batting .226 with seven hits, two extra-base hits and three RBI.
“We don’t really have anybody hitting,” Ligtenberg said. “Usually you have one or two guys that are hitting. We haven’t strung any hits together and we haven’t had more than three or four two-out hits with guys on base. That’s been the killer.”
This spring Minnesota mandated the use of new BBCOR bats in high school baseball, which was believed by many would bring scoring down. BBCOR bats are supposed to act more like wood bats and less like the recent aluminum bats. The NCAA implemented BBCOR bats last year and Division I batting average, scoring and home runs per game in 2011 resembled the wood-bat 1970s more than recent years. But, other teams aren’t having as much of a problem scoring runs as Park is.
“It’s been tough,” Ligtenberg said. “We’re really struggling to score and get any positive momentum. We haven’t hardly gotten any two-out hits with runners on base. We’ve had the lead for a total of an inning and a half the whole year. We’ve been playing from behind a lot.”
The Wolfpack’s issues aren’t only at the plate.
Ligtenberg said the team is looking for a third starter behind Fritz and Flack. Diedrich, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery, was the Wolfpack’s third starter, but has had shoulder trouble and hasn’t been highly effective, Ligtenberg said.
“He’s probably not going to pitching a lot more, so I’m kind of scrambling to find someone to fill his spot,” Ligtenberg said. “We’re really short on pitching.”
In last week’s games, Park mustered only two hits off of Mounds View’s ace. Diedrich and Flack both had singles. The Wolfpack struck out 10 times in the loss. Flack pitched well enough to win, but suffered the hard-luck loss, going five innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs while striking out four.
Against Cretin-Derham Hall, the Raiders went ahead early and never looked back. Fletcher Rheault went 2-for-3 in the game as Park tallied six hits, but couldn’t get a run past home plate. Fritz took the loss on the mound, surrendering six earned runs on six hits in three innings pitched.
Last year, Park finished 11-11 overall after going 0-4 in its first four games and starting the season 3-7. Ligtenberg is hoping the team can turn things around in the second half of the year again.
The Wolfpack was at Forest Lake Monday after the Bulletin went to press. Park travels to Roseville on Wednesday and plays host to Stillwater on Friday.
“I’m looking forward to the second half and getting things turned around,” Ligtenberg said. “We do have two good pitchers. If we just start hitting the ball we can do some damage. But, if we keep hitting like we’re hitting it’s going to be a long second half.”