The Park Center American Legion baseball team entered its game against St. Michael Blue July 5 hoping to shake off the rust accumulated after a break for the July 4 holiday weekend.
With the Gopher Classic American Legion tournament having taken place July 7-9, Park Center head coach Nathan Johnson knew his team would have to be playing its best baseball possible to be competitive against a tough pool.
While Park Center fell 13-0 to St. Michael Blue, Johnson believes the game served as a wake-up call to his team after the July 4 break.
“We’re coming off of July 4 break, so the biggest thing was getting one game out of the way before the Gopher Classic,” Johnson said. “We were probably a little loosey-goosey in some aspects, so we hope to get that out of our system heading into the Gopher Classic.
“We played a strong St. Michael team tonight that has had success not only in their section, but the state tournament here and there. Hopefully our team can learn a lot from a team like this.”
With only one senior on the summer roster, Johnson’s team consists of many freshmen and sophomores that are looking to gain experience against top teams.
“Being a young team there can be growing pains,” Johnson said. “You have to take small moments to teach and grow as players and hopefully it will pay off in the next couple of years.”
Park Center was given the chance to gain experience at the Gopher Classic July 7-9, as the Pirates played five games in three days.
“It’s going to be all arms necessary,” Johnson said. “There are going to be players that are pitching that probably haven’t thrown a bullpen or are not pitchers but throwers.
“We will try to rely on some of our starters from the high school season that are mainstays. We have been mindful of their innings and pitch counts up to this point, but we might have to stretch them out a bit this weekend.”
Park Center began play in the Gopher Classic July 7 and picked up a 12-11 win over Omaha Skutt in its first game of the tournament. Park Center then fell 9-0 to Woodbury Blue July 7, 5-1 to St. Louis Park July 8, 9-3 to Brookings July 9 and 9-3 to Shakopee July 9.
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