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Lopez leads Parkers past Stillwater

Brad Peterson played the hero without swinging the bat last Monday at Park High School.

With the game tied 4-4 between the Parkers and Stillwater in the bottom of the eighth inning, Peterson was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. After being sacrificed to second, Peterson stole third and then scored the game-winner on a passed ball to secure the 5-4 Parkers victory.

It was the first time St. Paul Park’s legion squad topped Stillwater this season, after losing the previous two matchups.

Peterson’s heroics on the base path helped the Parkers capitalize on another stellar performance from ace Jake Lopez. Lopez threw a complete game and allowed just two earned runs on eight hits and five walks while striking out five in the victorious effort.

“It’s pretty easy [for him], because he’s going to throw strikes and even if he walks a guy it’s usually only going to be one in an inning and he won’t compile the walks,” Parkers coach Matt Doornink said. “He has good enough stuff to strike guys out too when he needs to.”

The win improved Lopez’s mark on the mound to 5-1 this summer. He sports a stout 1.98 earned run average, as opponents are only hitting .206 against him. Lopez hasn’t had any trouble finding the strike zone, either. He’s only walked 12 batters in 35 innings of work.

“He’ll give us a chance [every time he pitches],” Doornink said. “He’ll keep us in the game at minimum. He hasn’t had a bad outing yet.”

Still, despite Lopez’s ability to silence the Stillwater bats, it looked like the Parkers were going to come up on the short end of the tally, as St. Paul Park trailed 4-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth.

That’s when the Parkers offense rallied.

Jarrett Mansergh, JT Bickell and Jeb Melson all walked to load the bases with no outs. Then after two fielder’s choices a pair of singles from Ryan Banaszewski and Kaleb Fischer knotted the game at four runs apiece, where the score was held until Peterson trotted home in the eighth.

“It was good to get some runs and get some hits,” Doornink said. “We’ll take it.”

Fischer delivered another strong performance on the mound in the second game of the doubleheader, but couldn’t find enough offensive support behind him as Stillwater topped the Parkers 5-2.

Fischer threw a six-inning complete game, allowing just two earned runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out two. A few key errors sparked run-scoring rallies for Stillwater that proved to be the difference.

Both of St. Paul Park’s runs were scored in the top of the second inning, as Mikkel McGowan and Matt Johnson delivered RBI singles to put the Parkers on the board, but that’s all the bats could muster in the defeat.

Still, despite the loss in the nightcap, Doornink was pleased with the 1-1 result.

“We’ll take a split from where we’re at right now,” he said. “Our pitchers both threw great games. … Defensively we were pretty good.”

St. Paul Park fell 11-1 to Apple Valley last Wednesday in a game which Doornink said was closer than the final score would indicate.

The Parkers were slated to play three more times last week, but a doubleheader with West St. Paul was rescheduled because West St. Paul couldn’t field a full roster, and a matchup with Woodbury Area was postponed because the Parkers weren’t going to have enough players.

Both of those matchups are likely to be played out this week, with St. Paul Park and West St. Paul slated to play one game Friday, and the Parkers and Woodbury Area likely to face off in a doubleheader Sunday.

That fills up an already busy week for the Parkers. St. Paul Park could potentially play 10 games in a seven day span from July 7-13.

“This is where all the rainouts come into effect right now,” Doornink said. “We’ll have enough guys to get through it easily [pitching-wise], it’s just hopefully we can avoid the games where we can’t throw strikes.”