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VFW Baseball: East Ridge loses to Lake Elmo, Woodbury wins on walk-off

Blake Ritzer pitched five innings for East Ridge on Tuesday night as the Raptors lost 8-4. Ritzer struck out eight batters and the Raptors will play on Thursday night to back into the championship game against Lake Elmo. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Niles Prestine hit the walk-off single for Woodbury against North St. Paul Red on Tuesday night to capture the 5-4 win. The Royals will continue to play each night for a spot in the championship game on Friday. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

STILLWATER—It was a five-run fourth inning for Lake Elmo (Stillwater) and that one inning made it difficult for East Ridge to come back.

The Raptors faced a 5-2 deficit heading into the top of the fifth inning and they made sure to keep it close with a couple runs. It was a 5-4 game until the bottom of the sixth when Lake Elmo scored three runs and made it 8-4.

East Ridge couldn't come back from that four-run deficit and ended up losing 8-4 to the No. 1 seed Lake Elmo on Tuesday night.

"We had some opportunities to score with bases loaded," said Jereme Quinnell, East Ridge's coach. "If we were able to knock a couple of those runners in, it could've been a different outcome."

East Ridge left the bases loaded in four different innings and Dawson Smith knew those types of innings would come back to haunt them as a team.

Smith said he was happy with the Raptors' plate discipline and finding their pitches rather than swinging at balls outside the strike zone. Quinnell agreed with Smith saying that the plate discipline allowed Lake Elmo to use three different pitchers in the game rather than just one.

"If we can have that eye at the plate again and just clean up some fielding mistakes I think we'll be looking good for Thursday," Smith said.

That loss doesn't eliminate East Ridge, but the Raptors will have to win three games to win the championship and advance to the state tournament.

That lucky number for Woodbury is now four games to win the championship due to a dramatic game on Tuesday night.

The Royals were losing 4-0 at the beginning stages of the game against North St. Paul Red. Nick Gehrt, Woodbury's head coach, said he couldn't have been more proud of the fight that came after being down.

"They realized their season was on the line and they stepped up to make sure they could play another game," Gehrt said. "I couldn't have been more proud of what they did. That was a fun game to watch as a coach."

Woodbury brought the game closer in the sixth inning with a 4-3 deficit. Then, Austin Carlson came up to the plate.

The Royals are known for their bunting skills and Gehrt decided to use that skill on Carlson. He wanted him to perform a suicide squeeze and bring home Noah Tri.

It worked to perfection and the game was tied 4-4 heading into the last inning. Then, in the bottom of the seventh, Niles Prestine came up to the plate and hit a single to centerfield scoring Josh Hawksford and winning the game 5-4 for Woodbury.

"Everyone did their part during the game and we never gave up until the final score," said Trent Glaeser. "It was a great game to learn from for the upcoming games because we know it'll be tough."

The season continues for Woodbury into Wednesday night when the Royals play Roseville at 6 p.m. at Woodbury High School. The winner of the Wednesday night game will face East Ridge on Thursday night for a spot in the championship against Lake Elmo on Friday.

The team that faces Lake Elmo will have to win twice against them to earn the championship title.

The mentality, now, for both Woodbury and East Ridge is to not lose, otherwise the season is over.

"The players already understand where we're at in the playoffs," Quinnell said. "We just need to make sure we continue playing hard."

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

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