Woodbury 5, East Ridge 2
A rivalry game typically has a close game and each run is deserved by each team. That rivalry atmosphere was shown on Tuesday as Woodbury and East Ridge took the field in an early conference and crosstown baseball game.
It was a close, back-and-forth game for the first four innings. The Raptors created a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth, but the Royals came back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
After creating a three-run lead, Woodbury controlled the rest of the game with the help of Adam Mazur on the mound.
"It was another great night for Adam on the mound," said head coach Kevin McDermott. "With him on the mound, we know we have the chance to beat anyone on our schedule. It'll be good to see the depth of our pitching staff in the coming weeks."
Mazur has pitched all 12 innings to start the season for the Royals. After pitching a no-hitter in five innings against North St. Paul, McDermott gave Mazur the nod again in the game against East Ridge.
He had a no-hitter through six innings, but a hit by Tanner Stafne ended the opportunity to have back-to-back no-hitters to start the season. In any case, Mazur had another strong outing with zero earned runs, one walk, one hit and 11 strikeouts in seven innings.
On the other side of the field, Blake Ritzer had his first start of the season. He pitched four and two-thirds innings giving up two earned runs, four hits, one walk and striking out six batters.
"I was very pleased with [Blake's] outing," said East Ridge head coach Brian Sprout. "He had some mechanical adjustments to make this last week and he was throwing all pitches for strikes. He gave us a great chance to win against a tough opponent."
Out of the seven total runs in the game, only three were earned showing a handful of errors that caused runs to score. The biggest unearned runs came in the bottom of the fifth inning when the bases were loaded for Woodbury.
Luke Paulson was up to bat as a ball hit the dirt and bounced off the catcher for a wild pitch. Rodney Erickson, at third base, anticipated the wild pitch and took off running allowing him to score.
When Erickson slid into home, Max Moris threw the ball to Ritzer and the ball went into the first base foul ground. This allowed Mazur to run around the third and head for home to take a 3-2 lead.
After the two runs, Paulson had a strong at-bat fouling off pitches and looking for his pitch. He found it after a handful of pitches and knocked the ball into right-center for a base hit, which scored Quinn Krueger to give Woodbury a 4-2 lead.
"When Adam slid across home plate, he jumped in the air and hugged me," Paulson said. "He told me, 'it's all you' and that's all the confidence I needed to get the ball in play and get another run for us."
That three-run lead gave Mazur the confidence to go out and complete the game. He was happy with the fight that the Royals brought to the game and still being able to get the victory.
"This was not our best baseball, but seeing us get the win shows the fight we have in this team," Mazur said. "The ability to get a conference win right away to start the season is a big confidence boost, just knowing how dominant our conference is this season."
The biggest thing both teams took out of this game was fixing the errors and making sure there aren't any unearned runs throughout a game. Along with the errors, both teams want to focus on fixing the little things that determine wins and losses in a tough Suburban East Conference schedule.
Woodbury will try to play at Hastings on Wednesday, April 10 at 4:30 p.m. depending on the snow, but the Royals will be playing at White Bear Lake on Monday, April 15 at 4:30 p.m.
East Ridge will also be trying to play through the snow with a game at Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday, April 12 at 4:30 p.m., otherwise the Raptors will head to Mounds View on Monday, April 15 at 4:30 p.m.