Amateur Baseball: Park Rapids put a competitive team on the field
The Esox went 5-5 in Lake & Pine League play and 8-12 overall.
Despite ending the regular season with a six-game losing streak, manager Zach Hocking thought the Park Rapids Esox amateur baseball team had a successful season.
Park Rapids went 5-5 against Lake & Pine League opponents before winning two games at the Region 14C tournament to end the season with an 8-12 overall record.
“Overall I thought the season went well. We would have liked to win a couple more ball games throughout the year, especially in the month of July when we didn't win a game,” said Hocking. “At the beginning of the year, I didn't really know what to expect coming into the season. I knew we would be a pretty young ball club and would have to see how it would play out. Obviously, one of the goals for every team is to play in the state tournament, which was always in our minds. I was pleased with how competitive we were this year. It can get to be a long season and I'm glad we have guys that like baseball in general.”
The Esox held the top spot in the Lake & Pine League standings after opening the season with a 5-1 record. Park Rapids defeated Nimrod 4-1, Midway 3-1, Staples 8-3 and 10-3, and Wolf Lake 22-8 while losing to Midway 10-5. The Esox also went 1-3 against Hi-10 League foes with losses to Vergas-Frazee (7-5), New York Mills (12-1) and Perham (5-4) and a 7-3 win over Verndale during that stretch.
The Esox went 0-6 in July, including Lake & Pine League losses to Wolf Lake (2-1), Sebeka (4-1 and 6-5) and Nimrod (15-5). Park Rapids also dropped games to Hi-10 opponents Bluffton (6-1) and Deer Creek (17-3).
Sebeka won the Lake & Pine League title with an 8-2 record. Nimrod went 7-3, Midway finished at 6-4 and Park Rapids posted a 5-5 record.
Going 5-5 in league play gave the Esox the No. 4 seed in the Lake & Pine League for the Region 14C playoffs. Park Rapids defeated Verndale 7-3, lost to Bluffton 15-2, edged Nimrod 2-0 and lost to Deer Creek 9-4 to end the season.
“I was really pleased with what we did in the playoffs,” said Hocking. “That play-in game is tough and we came ready to play and beat a good Verndale team. Then losing to Bluffton, which is a really good ball club and then taking on Nimrod and beating them 2-0 was huge. It’s always fun beating those guys. Playing four games in a three-day span is a lot of baseball and hard on a body. I was really pleased with our pitching in the playoffs with Derek Lindow, Kevin Murphy and DJ Reichling.”
There were 18 players who helped the Esox hit .269 as a team and post a 3.61 team ERA as 41 errors led to 47 unearned runs. Park Rapids scored 100 runs while allowing 129 runs.
Leading the offense for the Esox were Hocking (.369 average, 15 RBI, 10 runs scored in 19 games), Dillon McGee (.347 average, seven runs scored, six RBI in 12 games), Kevin Murphy (.321 average, eight RBI, seven runs scored in 17 games), Jason Haas (.317 average, eight RBI, eight runs scored in 15 games), Brendan Kruchowski (.306 average, four RBI, four runs scored in 10 games), Reichling (.255 average, eight runs scored, seven RBI in 17 games), Riley Massie (.234 average, six runs scored, six RBI in 16 games), Dawson McGee (.216 average, five runs scored, three RBI in 11 games), Nick Jasmer (.186 average, 11 runs scored, seven RBI, six stolen bases in 19 games), John Massie (.185 average, four runs scored, two RBI in 14 games) and LeRoy Phillips (.059 average, three runs scored, two RBI in 10 games). Those 11 players saw action in at least 10 games this summer.
Also contributing offensively were Clayton Gallus (.667 average, three runs scored in two games), Lindow (.417 average, six RBI, two runs scored in five games), Isaiah Olson (.310 average, nine runs scored, five stolen bases, four RBI in seven games), Cain Mitchell (.294 average in four games), Sawyer Torkelson (.233 average, four runs scored in eight games), TJ Erickson (.217 average, five RBI, two runs scored in five games) and Matt Johanning (.148 average, five runs scored in nine games).
Lindow led the pitching staff with 10 appearances, including nine as a starter. Lindow pitched 67 innings and went 5-5 with a 2.82 ERA, allowing 42 runs (27 earned) on 71 hits and 28 walks while striking out 70 batters. Reichling posted a 2-2 record and a 1.56 ERA in 35 ⅓ innings. Reichling allowed 16 runs (eight earned) on 30 hits and 15 walks with 32 strikeouts in five appearances. Murphy made eight appearances, six in relief, and had a 1-2 record and a 2.81 ERA. In 32 ⅓ innings, Murphy gave up 21 runs (13 earned) on 38 hits and 11 walks with 27 strikeouts.
Also starting games this summer were Gallus (0-0 record, 6.68 ERA in 7 ⅓ innings), Olson (0-2 record, 17.06 ERA in 5 ⅓ innings) and Torkelson (0-0 record, 3.50 ERA in 2 innings).
“I look forward to next year,” said Hocking. “The expectations for next year are to have another competitive year and get to that second weekend of playoffs and a chance for a state berth.”