FL shows grit with big comeback (VIDEO)

Baseball team digs out of five-run hole to beat Park

Jack Schmidt chases down a bunt as the Wolfpack runner strides by. Schmidt went 4-4 and picked up the win. (Photo by Clint Riese)
Click here to watch the last two at-bats of the Rangers’ walk-off victory.

Clint Riese
Sports Editor

Even the most fervent Ranger fans in attendance at Schumacher Field Monday night were bracing for their team’s second loss to Park this spring, and second straight defeat overall. The Wolfpack jumped on starter Trent Rabel for three runs in the third inning and another in the fourth.

The visitors tacked on a fifth run against reliever Jack Schmidt in the top of the fourth. Meanwhile, the home team had hardly a baserunner over their first three at-bats.

Hopefully no one left early, because Forest Lake charged all the way back for a 6-5, walk-off victory. It was the squad’s fourth come-from-behind win of the season and improved the Rangers to 8-3.

“We’ve had a few of these that we’ve hoped would kick-start us,” said coach Tal Gravelle. “I’ve had to tell myself this, but we’ve got to avoid getting too high and too low through all of this.”

Still, the improbable late rally should give the team a bounce in its step going forward. Forest Lake chipped away with a run in the fourth inning. CJ Franklin led off with a double and advanced to third on a single by Schmidt. Franklin raced home to score on a wild pitch.

A two-out rally plated two more runs in the fifth. Noah Brown got things going with a double, and Franklin followed by lashing a triple to left field. Schmidt then singled to cut the lead to 5-3. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases, but Park hurler Drew Flack got Alek Zentzis to pop out to end the inning.

Flack again got out of trouble in the sixth. With runners on second and third, Franklin roped a line drive deep to left field, but it was caught to end the frame.

Wolfpack coach Kerry Lightenberg, a former major league reliever, turned to his bullpen in the seventh. Schmidt greeted the new pitcher with his fourth hit of the night, and Dylan Dresel followed with a single on an 0-2 count. Beau Fandel also fell behind but went on to earn a walk to load the bases. Zentzis then hit a blooper to shallow left field that fell for a hit and drove in two runs thanks to miscommunication by the defense.

With still no outs and runners on the corners, Bryce Kinder executed a suicide squeeze bunt to tie the game.

“Bryce had a great bunt,” said Gravelle. “It was kind of a high pitch.”

Next up was Carter Burgoyne, and he wasted little time in drilling the ball over the left fielder’s head to plate the winning run.

Besides going 4-4, Schmidt picked up the win. He allowed one run in 4.1 innings of work.

Roseville 3, FL 0

Roseville senior Zach Hayes baffled the Rangers in a complete game shutout last Friday. The host Raiders prevailed 3-0. Hayes struck out seven and walked none while limiting Forest Lake to four hits.

“Sometimes you have to give the pitcher credit,” said Gravelle. “That’s kind of how the league is this year, there’s a lot of low-scoring games.”

Still, the Rangers had a chance to take the lead with no score in the sixth. They had a runner on third with one out but failed to bring him home. Roseville responded in their half of the inning with three unearned runs.

Lucas Kohls left the game after allowing a lead-off double in the sixth and the Raiders took advantage of errors with Matt Hultgren on the hill. Their runs came without another hit in the inning.

FL 4, C-DH 2

Forest Lake scored an impressive road win last Tuesday against No. 6 Cretin-Derham Hall. Phil Sauer returned from injury to make his first start of the year and settled down after a tough first inning. He ended up allowing one earned run in 5.1 innings and earning the win in the 4-2 contest. Hultgren provided 1.2 innings of hitless relief.

Burgoyne drove in two runs with a double in the fifth inning. A double by Zentzis plated the go-ahead run. Each went 2-3.

The Rangers, ranked sixth in the state at 8-3, plays at Woodbury on Wednesday. They travel to Hastings on Friday, host White Bear Lake next Monday and play at East Ridge next Wednesday.