Baseball bats start connecting

The Forest Lake baseball team is starting to gel, going 4-2 in recent action despite a hectic schedule and less-than-ideal weather.

The Rangers rolled to a 12-2 win over Park last Tuesday.

Senior Brett Gravelle pitched a complete game, giving up three hits, while leading the team at the plate as well. The senior went 3-3 with a run scored. Senior Joey Vacinek also recorded three hits along with one RBI and two runs.

On Wednesday, the Rangers hosted White Bear Lake and earned a 7-0 victory. Vacinek pitched a complete game, giving up just one hit in seven innings and striking out six. On offense, Vacinek, junior Jake Ashworth, senior Skyler Winning and senior Alex Egle each earned two hits.

The Rangers hosted East Ridge on Friday, having lost to the Raptors 6-1 in mid-April. They fell again, by the same score.

The game started on a rocky note for Forest Lake. On the second play of the game, Egle and Winning collided on a drifting fly ball in left-center field. Egle left the game with a slight fracture in his jaw. His return date is questionable.

After four scoreless innings, East Ridge scored an unearned run in the top of the fifth inning following two contested calls at first base.

The Rangers answered in the bottom of the inning when Gravelle hit a single to left field. Sophomore Matt Wallner hit to the same spot to put two on with one out. Vacinek was up next and delivered, crushing a deep double to left field to score Gravelle and tie the game.

Winning, who moved to center field following Egle’s exit, kept the Raptors at bay in the top of the sixth inning by robbing a batter of a leadoff hit with a diving catch to his left.

The Rangers nearly got on the board again in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Winning hit a single to right-center field. Junior Nick McCormick laced a liner to the East Ridge third baseman, who couldn’t get a handle on the ball. With two on and two outs, Gravelle hit a slow infield grounder and nearly beat the throw to first, but was called out, ending the inning.

The Raptors would soon end the game by coming out swinging with five hits in a row in the top of the seventh. Forest Lake couldn’t answer in its last turn at the plate.

Wallner, who pitched 6.1 innings, led on offense by going 2-3. Vacinek went 2-4 with one RBI.

Forest Lake bounced back the next day to beat Roseville twice at home, 11-8 and 13-2. Senior Dan Wassman and Gravelle were the winning pitchers, with junior Brandon Rogers recording a save in the 11-8 victory. Gravelle went 5-8 with one RBI and three runs over the two games. Winning went 4-8 with one RBI, while Matt Savage was 3-6 with one RBI. Ashworth went 3-5 with three RBI and Wallner went 3-7 with one RBI.

On Monday, Forest Lake lost at Mounds View 7-6. The visitors trailed 5-3 heading into the top of the seventh inning, but two-out hits by senior Drew Svendson and Rogers helped put three runs on the board for Forest Lake to take 6-5 lead. However, the Mustangs rallied for two hits to pull out a walk-off win.

Winning was the lone Ranger to earn two hits, going 2-4 on the game.

The Rangers are now 7-9. They hosted Woodbury on Tuesday and Stillwater on Wednesday. Forest Lake hosts Cretin-Derham Hall at 6 p.m. Friday, May 16.

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