COTTAGE GROVE - It's been a season of close games for the St. Paul Park Post 98 Legion baseball team.
St. Paul Park has lost 11 games this season and eight of them have been within three runs. That trend continued on Tuesday night as St. Paul Park fall to Hamline Red 5-3.
"We've been in each of these games," said St. Paul Park head coach Matt Doornick. "We just have a clean up some mistakes to come out on top."
This season's roster is made up of very young players. Doornick said that the team was one player away from becoming a junior legion baseball team.
The young team allows Doornick and his coaching staff to help these players develop techniques and the mental side of the game before next spring comes. Doornick said these players have been learning a lot this summer and it's continued to show during the games, but there are mistakes that need to be tightened up to win a baseball game.
"We just need to clean up simple errors in games and that will help bring us into the win column," said St. Paul Park's centerfielder Nick Thorson. "This team is young and we're continuing to learn with each game. Hopefully, we can bring everything we learned into the last few weeks of this season and finished strong."
Thorson had a strong game going 1-for-2 with a single and a walk as well as a run. Thorson is the leadoff hitter for St. Paul Park, but Doornick has been impressed with the consistency with the first four batters in the lineup.
The other three batters following Thorson include Mike Gillie, Nathan Larson and Tucker Novotny. Those four went 4-for-8 last night including four singles, one walk and two RBI's.
"It seems like when the top half of the lineup is hitting, the bottom half does the same," Thorson said. "We just need to keep those bats swinging and finding our pitches to find gaps in the field."
On the defensive side of the field, Doornick has 11 pitchers on his roster and has been using most of the them each game. On Tuesday night, Zach Keller-Bies received the start on the mound after pitching one inning this season.
Keller-Bies gave up four hits, four walks, three strikeouts and allowing two earned runs in five innings. Hamline Red recorded four runs with Keller-Bies on the mound, but with a couple of errors a couple of the runs weren't earned.
"It was nice to see these three guys get on the mound and gain some experience," Doornick said. "I thought all three did well throughout the game."
Now, Doornick and the St. Paul Park team will face a tough stretch with nine games in six days. It'll be a tough week ahead, but Doornick knows this team is ready to push hard and come out with some wins.
The team is excited to play baseball so much and Thorson is ready to continue learning this next week.
"It'll be a long week with nine games, but our team is ready for the opportunity," Thorson said. "Hopefully, this next week will prepare us for the end of the season at the end of July."