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St. Paul Park Legion baseball: Parkers heating up

Max Stedt and the St. Paul Park Legion Post 98 baseball team won six of its past seven games and improved to 17-13 overall on the year. In its past 16 games, Post 98 is 12-4.

The Parkers are on a roll.

Winners of six of its last seven games, the St. Paul Park Legion Post 98 baseball team has improved to 17-13 overall on the year. In its past 16 games, Post 98 is 12-4.

"We've been playing very well since June 23," St. Paul Park head coach Matt Doornink said. "This is the deepest pitching staff I've had since 2009. If we can play solid defense the rest of the way good this are going to happen for us."

In 2009, St. Paul Park won the District 3 Championship and qualified for the state tournament.

Most recently, St. Paul Park beat West St. Paul 7-5 and Mahtomedi 14-3 last week after winning three of four games at the Rochester Firecracker 92 Tournament.

With its latest victory, on Saturday, July 14, over West St. Paul, St. Paul Park improved to 7-3 in league F.

"We have an opportunity to win this league," Doornink said. "If we play like we have been this last week, we can earn a first-round bye for the first round of playoffs, and that will be huge for us."

Eight games remain before the District 3 playoffs begin.

In the win over West St. Paul (27-15; 3-9 League F), St. Paul Park scored seven runs on 11 hits. Park 2011 graduate Jordan Jeske led the way, going 3-for-3 with two walks, two RBI and three stolen bases. Fellow 2011 grad Joe Cocchiarella was 3-for-4 with two RBI and 2012 graduate Kyle Fritz was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Jeske got the win on the mound, throwing 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. Cocchiarella got two outs in relief and Fritz entered the game at the start of the seventh inning to close the door and earn the save.

In the win over Mahtomedi (6-11; 3-8 League F), St. Paul Park scored seven runs in the second inning to open up a big early lead. The Parkers added two runs in the fourth inning and five runs in the top of the seventh inning to seal the win.

Each player on Post 98 scored at least one run in the win. Park 2012 graduate Jake Carrigan led the way, going 3-for-5 and East Ridge 2012 graduate Andy Sammon went 3-for-4. Also, Russ Damsgard, Spencer Diedrich and J.T. Bickel each had two hits in the game.

Fritz picked up the win on the mound, giving up three runs (two earned), while scattering seven hits and striking out five.

"Fritz pitched very well," Doornink said. "He was in the zone all day. His changeup is coming around better and he is throwing that with more confidence."

Prior to the league games, St. Paul Park traveled to Rochester for the Firecracker 92 Tournament, beating Onalaska, Wis., 11-5, the Rochester Redhawks 10-5 and Lincoln, Neb., 8-7, and falling to Mitchell, S.D., 2-1.

"Going 3-1 for the tournament was very good," Doornink said. "We played great baseball and we should have won the game to Mitchel, SD that we lost."

In addition to the games St. Paul Park did play, it also had a double-header with Stillwater on Friday, July 13, postponed because of bad weather.

St. Paul Park was down 8-5 to Stillwater in the first of the two games, which were made up on Monday, July 16, after the Bulletin went to press.

"Offensively, we left a lot of runners on base that we should have brought in and defensively we gave up six unearned runs on six errors in the third inning," Doornink said. "The rain may have helped us in the long run and, hopefully, it stopped the circus show we were putting on that day."