Offense M.I.A. for FL baseball

Rangers wrap up SEC play at home this week

Clint Riese
Sports Editor

The dream of defending a conference title has vanished, but the Ranger baseball team has a new goal with even more implications for the postseason: With three regular season games remaining, it must find a way to jump-start the offense.

Forest Lake combined for just seven hits and three runs over its last two games. Both were losses, dropping the squad to 10-7 heading into the final week of Suburban East Conference play.

“We know the boys are frustrated,” said coach Tal Gravelle. “It’s a challenge when you don’t hit the ball well, and it feeds on itself. Hopefully, we’ll get a few breaks and get it turned around. We still believe in the boys.”

Junior Beau Fandel kept his team right in Monday night’s home game with rival Stillwater, but Pony senior Joe Stanton limited the Rangers to three hits and earned the win in the 3-1 contest.

The Ponies got on the board with some small ball in the third inning, using a hit batsman and a bunt to push a run across the plate.

Forest Lake answered in the fourth. Senior Alek Zentzis just missed giving the Rangers the lead when he smacked the ball high up the right field fence for an RBI triple.

Stillwater plated the winning runs in the fifth. A pair of runners got on with infield singles and scored on a ground ball by Pony junior Austin Holmberg that made it through the infield for a single.

The home team looked poised to rally in the ninth. Dylan Dresel reached base to lead off and a one-out single by Carter Burgoyne brought the winning run to the plate. Stanton clamped down, though, getting a called third strike for the second out and inducing a fly ball to end the game.

“It was a good ball game, we just had too many strikeouts,” Gravelle said.

Forest Lake suffered its worst defeat of the season last Friday when Mounds View left town with a 9-2 win. The Mustangs got to Matt Jellum early on and the Rangers ended up sending five players to the mound. Dresel’s two-run double in the seventh inning was the lone offensive highlight as Forest Lake managed just three hits.

The Rangers edged East View on the road last Wednesday, 6-4. Junior Trent Rabel plated the go-ahead runs with an RBI single in the seventh inning. He also picked up the win with three hitless innings of relief. Bryce Kinder drove in two runs and reached base twice.

Forest Lake hosts No. 6 Cretin-Derham Hall this Wednesday night and wraps up SEC play by hosting Roseville on Friday. The regular season ends with a trip to Chisago Lakes next Thursday.