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East Ridge legion wins one of three in wild week of action

Sam Kastner hits a ground ball during East Ridge's 12-10 loss to West St. Paul last Wednesday at East Ridge High School (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)1 / 2
Drew Molin delivers a pitch during East Ridge's 12-10 loss to West St. Paul last Wednesday at East Ridge High School. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)2 / 2

The East Ridge American Legion squad spent the good portion of last week playing catch-up after digging itself three sizeable holes.

In three games, East Ridge faced deficits as big nine, 10 and five runs. Twice it fell short, but the Raptors were able to salvage one victory to go 1-2 in what could only be considered a wild week.

“It has been a couple of crazy finishes,” East Ridge assistant coach Kevin Hagen said.

The Raptors trailed Oakdale 9-0 heading into the bottom of the second last Monday, sparked largely by four East Ridge errors.

That’s when the Raptors bats came alive. East Ridge scored six runs in the second and seven runs in a third inning that saw East Ridge collect eight hits, allowing the club to take a 13-10 lead.

The Raptors went on to win the back-and-forth battle 17-11, as East Ridge’s 23-hit outburst was enough to overcome eight errors in the field.

All 10 East Ridge batters collected a hit in the game, with seven players recording multi-hit performances. Cal Kellner led the way in the offensive explosion, as he went 5-for-5 at the dish while knocking in four runs and scoring twice. Carter Stoehr, Kyle Orehosky and Bailey Goldstein all contributed three hits as well.

It didn’t look like Wednesday’s battle with West St. Paul was headed toward a slugfest in the early innings.

Raptors starter Drew Molin held West St. Paul’s bats to just two runs on four hits as East Ridge trailed 2-1 through four innings.

But West St. Paul capitalized on four errors to score five runs in the fifth inning to knock Molin off of the mound and force Sam Cobbs in to pitch in relief.

Four more West St. Paul runs in the top of the sixth inning put the Raptors behind the eight ball as they faced an 11-1 deficit heading into the bottom of the frame.

And once again, East Ridge rallied.

East Ridge pieced together a five-hit, nine-run inning, powered by a two-run blast off the bat of Cobbs. A sacrifice fly from Cobbs in his second at-bat of the inning plated Travis McDonald to trim the deficit to 11-10. But that’s all the closer the Raptors got, as they fell 12-10.

Cobbs’ bat led the way, as he went 3-for-3 with 4 RBI. Molin, Orehosky and Ben Zocher all tacked on two hits of their own to the Raptors 14-hit showing.

East Ridge put forth its cleanest defensive performance on Thursday, as the Raptors committed just one error.

Still, East Ridge fell 7-4 to Inver Grove Heights as the Raptors posted seven hits, a formidable total, but its lowest accumulation of the week.

The Raptors trailed 2-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning when Inver Grove Heights’ offense provided a devastating four-run eruption as it was able to string together four consecutive base knocks to build a 6-1 advantage.

East Ridge answered with three runs in the top of the fifth. The Raptors also built a rally in the seventh, with Thomas Mueller walking to load the bases with two outs, but East Ridge (7-7) was unable to score and for the second-straight night, its late-inning rally fell short.

Tim Rapp highlighted the Raptors offensive performance, going 2-for-3 at the plate.

Sam Kastner was serviceable on the mound for East Ridge. He threw a complete game on 100 pitches, while allowing just four earned runs and striking out four.

East Ridge’s impressive offensive week consisted of 44 hits and 31 runs in three games. But the smooth swings only amounted to one win. The Raptors struggles can largely be linked to multiple shortcomings with the gloves, as East Ridge committed 13 errors in the field.

And while assistant coach Kevin Hagen said his team’s comeback efforts in three consecutive games were encouraging, his guys understand they can’t continue to consistently fall behind early.

“We really need to start coming out with that drive from the first pitch,” Hagen said. “Making the plays that we're supposed to make defensively is one of the first things we need to take care of.”

After East Ridge battled Fargo, ND on Tuesday, the Raptors received a sizeable break as they won’t take the field again until July 7 when it takes on Woodbury Area.