Early-season miscues too much to overcome
An 0-3 start to the season wasn’t something anyone in the St. Louis Park baseball program anticpated coming off a very good section run and legion season after going 8-12 during the regular season in 2016.
DeLaSalle spoiled the opener on Keller Field at Dakota Park on April 6 by a 5-4 score.
Junior third baseman Shea Pekarek went 2-of-3 with a two-run home run in the early innings to take a 2-1 lead.
“I felt that really got us rolling,” Kelly said as Pekarek drove in three runs and also scored three times to spark the bats. “DeLaSalle came out with a ton of energy and kept us off balance and before we knew it it was the fourth inning and guys tried to turn it on late. It was a super frustrating way to lose the opener.”
Park junior outfielder Brent Ryan laced a triple to account for the additional Orioles run while Islanders pitcher Leo Pfarr fanned 10 batters over seven innings for the complete game win.
The Orioles pitching staff collective struck out 10 batters but also walked four and gave up two earned runs on eight hits between Jacob Stillman, Jack Elias and Riley Dvorak.
The next day, Park hosted Park Center in non-conference action with the Pirates emerging with a 6-2 win. Stillman, Johnny Sorenson and Connor Cornell each had two hits and Dvorak knocked in both runs with his only hit the of the day.
Stillman struck out two and walked two in two innings and Sorenson surrendered four earned runs on three hits. He struck out six and walked six in addition to taking the loss.
A busy first week of games came to an end with an 11-1 loss to Edina in five innings on April 12. Sorenson and Cornell collected the only base hits for the Orioles while Dvorak brought in Cornell, a senior first baseman who also drew a walk.
Stillman scattered 10 hits and four earned runs over three innings to take the loss on the mound in his first start of the season. Luke Boyum and Liam Sivanich worked the final two innings of relieve. Sivanich gave up a grand slam against his first varsity batter and gave up another home run to the following batter.
Ryan and Ian Sandbo each drew a walk.
Kelly said the loss to Edina, “oddly enough, was the best game of the year by these guys,” he said. “The dugout was engaged and I actually felt good about our team after that game and the practices since going into the Richfield game.”
Park marked the Metro West Conference season opener by playing Richfield at US Bank Stadium Tuesday. After the sluggish start, Kelly said the team’s new mantra is that they’re building momentum. “It’s not how you start but how you finish.”
Kelly added that the team put in a lot of work during its spring break trip to Arizona that saw them face Burnsville and Kennedy in separate scrimmages. Kelly has connections to the Burnsville program where they faced one of the top pitchers in the state in Sam Carlson who is anticipated to be a high draft pick in the June MLB draft.
“That was such a special experience for the guys to face him,” Kelly said as more than two dozen pro scouts surrounded the batting cage with their clipboards and radar guns to scout Carlson who averaged 93-96 miles per hour on the radar gun. “It was a really cool experience to be in that atmosphere and I was really encouraged by how our guys attacked their at-bats,” Kelly said.
Contact Jason Olson at [email protected]