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St. Paul Park Legion baseball: Parkers' season ends

J.T. Bickel hit .325 with three home runs and 24 RBI. St. Paul Park finished the year 6-35 overall and 3-15 in league play. (Bulletin photo by Patrick Johnson)

A long season came to a quick end for the St. Paul Park Legion baseball team.

The St. Paul Park Post 98 Parkers fell 9-6 to Farmington in the play-in game of the 10-team Sub-State 5 tournament. The Parkers finished the year 6-35 overall and 3-15 in league play.

"Regardless of the record, we had a good time on the ball field," St. Paul Park head coach Matt Doornink said. "We had a lot of young and inexperienced players at this level on our roster. If you watched us play, you know we were better than what our record says, but at the same time it's hard to sugar coat a 6-35 season."

Starting this season, all Division I American Legion teams competed in one of 15 Sub-State playoff tournaments to try to earn a trip to the 16-team state tournament, with the state tournament host automatically receiving a berth.

In Sub-State 5, St. Paul Park drew the ninth seed. Other teams in the section were: Apple Valley, Burnsville, Inver Grove Heights, Woodbury Blue, Lakeville South, St Paul Park, New Prague and Rosemount.

Doornink said he believed his team had a chance to pull off a few upsets, because the section was "very weak." Only four of the teams had winning records, Burnsville (21-7), Inver Grove (19-10), New Prague (9-6) and Woodbury (13-12).

In the game against Farmington, St. Paul Park fell behind 6-0 and was hitless through six innings before rallying late. However, the Parkers never overtook Farmington.

"In 22 of our losses, we straight up beat ourselves," Doornink said. "We averaged 6.5 free base runners a game - that is ridiculously unacceptable, and makes it very hard to win. Our generosity on the mound, lack of situational baseball knowledge, minimal plate execution, were our Achilles heels all season."

Kyle Strand took the loss on the mound.

"After his first couple starts of the year, he has been very solid for us," Doornink said.

For the Parkers, Max Stedt will be hard to replace next year. Stedt, a first baseman and pitcher, hit .352 with 44 hits, three homers and 34 RBI. On the mound, Stedt led the team with 16 appearances, 54 innings, 45 Strikeouts, two saves and had a 3.24 ERA.

Also, at the plate for the season, J.T. Bickel hit .325 with three home runs and 24 RBI, Tavier Simmons had 40 hits, two homers and a team-high 25 runs scored, Sam Domeier batted .326 with 18 stolen bases and Jack Dougherty led the team with a .358 batting average.

On the mound, Matt Chermack lead the team in wins compiling a 3 -3 record, while Strand picked up two wins and led the team with a 3.17 ERA.

Next year, St. Paul returns six of its top seven hitters and will have a much more experienced pitching staff. Off of last season, the Parkers only returned 13 innings on the mound, but next year will have 162 innings under their belt.

"I'm excited about the amount of pitchers we will have back next year," Doornink said. "We will be more completive, and have a chance to be pretty good."

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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