Rangers drop pitchers’ duel at Park, 1-0

A good, old-fashioned pitchers’ duel played out between Forest Lake and Park in the season opener for both squads in Cottage Grove on Monday. The Rangers came up on the short end of the 1-0 nail-biter.

The teams combined for just five hits and the lone run did not come until the bottom of the sixth inning. One of Park’s two hits put a runner on second base. With two outs, he took off on a pitch in the dirt and came home when the throw to third base was off target.

Forest Lake had its hands full with Wolfpack senior Kyle Fritz. The University of Minnesota-Duluth commit allowed just three hits while striking out 10 in a complete-game win.

“He pitched a good game and really kept us off-balance,” said Ranger coach Tal Gravelle, noting that Fritz often surprised the Rangers with off-speed pitches on fastball counts.

The farthest Forest Lake runners advanced was second base, and that happened only twice: senior Carter Burgoyne doubled and senior CJ Franklin reached on an error and stole second.

The tough offensive game wasted a great performance from senior Matt Jellum. The right-hander pitched all six innings without giving up a walk.

Forest Lake, ranked sixth in Class AAA, tried to even its record at Wednesday’s home opener against Woodbury. The Rangers also host Hastings on Friday and Duluth Denfeld on Saturday. They play at White Bear Lake next Monday before returning home to face East Ridge next Wednesday.