By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
The St. Michael-Albertville baseball team has seen a little bit of everything this spring.
A crazy stretch from April 29 to May 2 had the Knights playing six games over six days. STMA posted three wins, two losses and a tie over that span with the tie coming in a 2-2 game played in a doubleheader on May 1 at the Metrodome against Cambridge-Isanti. The game was called after nine innings due to time constraints.
The Knights and senior pitcher Jacob Dzubay took the first game 2-1 against the Bluejackets. Prior to its third game played this season at the dome, the Knights dropped a 7-4 game April 29 at St. Cloud Tech and lost the next day 4-3 in eight innings at home to Rogers.
STMA sophomore pitcher Tyler Berg and Rogers’ junior starter Adam Nauth locked horns in a 2-2 pitchers duel. The Royals eventually scored two runs in the top of the eighth inning and held off a late Knights rally thanks to a game-saving catch from junior outfielder Reid Sagehorn.
The Royals went on to split a May 2 doubleheader, losing game one 13-2 and salvaging the second game 8-3 over Monticello. Junior pitcher Kyle Ellis improved to 3-0 picking up the win in the nightcap.
Squeezed in-between Monday’s rematch with the Knights and Royals was a successful weekend trip for the Knights at the Alexandria Invite.
STMA defeated Alexandria 10-7 and Marshall 2-1 to win the Invitational. Senior pitcher Tyler Dallum started and pitched 5.1 innings against the Cardinals. A late Knights rally sparked by a three-run sixth and four-run seventh proved to be the difference. Junior Andrew Winans reached base four times and Berg drove in two runs in the win.
Junior pitcher Brandon Rankila started game two and struck out nine over six innings to earn a 2-1 victory over Marshall.
Monday featured the rematch between the Royals and Knights. It also featured a pitching rematch of Berg and Nauth. STMA grabbed an early 1-0 lead thanks to a couple Royal fielding errors. In turn, STMA allowed the tying run thanks to a couple slap hits and a fielding error of its own.
Both pitchers were forced to wiggle in and out of jams most the contest thanks to some shady defense. STMA committed three errors and Rogers had a season-high six errors that led to two unearned runs. The Knights (6-3 overall) finally took the lead for good in the fifth inning with an RBI double from Dzubay that plated senior catcher Jeff Hackenmueller. They later added another run in the sixth and sophomore pitcher Jordan Joseph pitched the seventh to save a 3-1 Knights win.
“We had some balls that we kicked around a little bit and that eventually came back to haunt us,” said Rogers head coach Brian Harapat. “We had some runners on and had some opportunities. We just didn’t come through in the clutch.”
Despite the victory, Knights head coach Paul Schumm echoed the same statements as the Rogers coach told his team.
“I was real disappointed,” Schumm said. “We had a lot of guys on base and our hitters were swinging at bad pitches and not getting those clutch hits when we needed them.”
The Knights played a doubleheader hosting Big Lake on Tuesday. Wednesday they hosted Robbinsdale Cooper. Thursday at 4 p.m. they will travel to Monticello to play two against the Magic.
“I don’t like pitchers throwing against the same teams back to back,” Schumm said. “That’s how the rotation fell. The schedule the way it is has been challenging, but I thought Berg through well.”
Rogers played Cambridge-Isanti on Tuesday and Zimmerman on Wednesday. Thursday they take on Buffalo in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m.
“We’ve split with Duluth East, split with Monticello and split with St. Michael,” Harapat said. “There’s so much parity in our conference this year. I wouldn’t be shocked if you had multiple teams tie for the conference championship this year. There’s a lot of good baseball being played.”