By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
A week removed from calling out his team for lack of timely hits, St. Michael-Albertville head coach Paul Schumm had to be pleased with last week’s results.
The Knights registered double-digits on the scoreboard in two of their three games, including a 13-6 win on May 14 at Buffalo. Two days later, STMA dropped an 11-1 decision in the first of a doubleheader at Champlin Park. The Knights salvaged the split with a 13-4 victory in game two.
The offense came on the heels of a poor stretch that both started and ended on May 9 at Monticello. Prior to a 7-6 win in which the team rallied for a six-run sixth inning, the Knights previously had scored just 12 runs over a five-game stretch that dropped their overall record to 6-6-1.
In both wins over Buffalo and Champlin Park, STMA batted around at least once, each time plating seven runners.
Senior second baseman Andrew Winans had three hits and drove in three and Jacob Dzubay had a season-high 5 RBI’s leading the offensive attack. Senior pitcher Tyler Dallum pitched 5.1 innings to earn the win as STMA salvaged the split against the Rebels on May 16 at Noble Park.
“Dzubay has been a good hitter in the past. But this year he has come to the plate more prepared,” Schumm said. “He has definitely stepped up as a senior and has pitched real well for us on the mound too.”
STMA got a taste of what the Rebels can bring to the table losing the first game 11-1. Champlin Park came into the doubleheader with an impressive 12-3 record playing in the ultra-competitive Northwest Suburban Conference.
Champlin Park jumped early and often on Knights’ sophomore starting pitcher Tyler Berg. Berg pitched three innings and was tagged for six first-inning runs and left after three innings trailing 9-1.
“We didn’t do anything well that first game,” Schumm said. “Our defense, hitting and pitching didn’t show up and in the second game, things kind of shifted for both teams.”
STMA pitchers allowed 16 hits in the opening game defeat, but rallied in game two collecting 16 hits of their own and three costly Champlin Park errors was the difference in the nightcap.
The victory on May 14 over the Bison was the second time this season the Knights blew out their Mississippi 8 rival. A 12-4 home win on April 26 was followed with the 13-6 win to sweep the season series.
STMA (9-7-1 overall) finished with a 5-4 conference record and finished third in the Mississippi 8 standings behind second-place Monticello (6-4) and conference champions Big Lake (7-3).
“We’re showing signs of playing better,” Schumm said. “We still have some games where we’re a little off. But we are way ahead of things from the beginning of the year.”
STMA had three games this week leading into next Monday’s section playoffs. Tuesday night was Parents and Senior Night when they hosted the 12-2 Elk River Elks. Wednesday they played Rocori and Thursday at 5 p.m. they play a makeup game at Sauk Rapids-Rice.
Section 8AAA playoffs begin Monday. STMA as of Tuesday was the No. 5 seed.