For three games, the Champlin Park baseball team let its bats do the winning.
Last Thursday in the Metrodome, it was the right arm of Brandon Rushmeyer that clinched what would be the Rebels fourth straight victory.
Rushmeyer went the distance May 2, striking out 10 in what was a 2-1 Northwest Suburban Conference victory over Armstrong.
The junior took a no-hitter into the fifth, and turned in an immediate response to his season debut, which lasted just two innings in a 7-2 defeat to Coon Rapids April 26.
“This is what I expected from him this year,” said manager Jeff Stoll. “He had some jitters that first game. But I told him, with his arm to just let it fly. He did that here tonight.”
Rushmeyer struck out the first two batters he faced. He set down two more in the second and then struck out the side in the third. He also picked up a huge strikeout in the fifth to snuff out Armstrong’s lone rally of the game, and then let center fielder Sam Francis race down a warning track fly ball to start the seventh.
“That was scary,” Rushmeyer said. “I didn’t know how far it was going to go until it came down, but Sam went and go it. I’m glad he was out there.”
Since that loss to Coon Rapids in the opener, the Rebels haven’t had to rely much on pitching or defense.
The bats had erupted to produce 31 runs in victories over Bemidji (6-0), Osseo (16-6) and Anoka (9-1). Against Armstrong, the offense was on the board right away again.
Bryce Marquardt led off the game with a single to center, and eventually came around to slide under a tag at home and score on a sacrifice fly by Matt Smith.
That would be the lone run the Rebels would muster through the first four innings however, and in the fifth, Armstrong tied it by similarly manufacturing a lead-off single into the its first run of the game.
But the bottom of the Champlin Park lineup went to work in their half of the fifth. No. 8 batter Trevor Kiminski led off with a triple to deep left, and then No. 9 hitter Calvin Spencer drove him home with a rocket double down the left field line.
Just like that, the Rebels were back out front.
“It was nice to see the bottom of the order come through to get us that run,” said Stoll. “Give their pitcher (sophomore Jack Wibben) credit. He gave us a heck of a time, but we got a real timely run there in the fifth.”
Rushmeyer took it from there, retiring six straight Armstrong batters to close out what is a 4-1 start to the baseball season for Champlin Park.
“We got that run back, and our energy was really good after that,” said Rushmeyer. “I felt great out there. I was in the mood to pitch.”
Rain wiped out games against Delano and Blaine Friday and Saturday of last week for Champlin Park.
That left the Rebels with five games scheduled for this week, including games at home vs. Coon Rapids Thursday, May 2 and vs. Totino-Grace at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 11.
“It is going to be hectic, but that is what we get after this weather we’ve been having,” said Stoll. “I know the kids want to play. The weather looks good, so they should get to plenty next week.”
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