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East Ridge baseball: After opening win, Raptors slide onto three-game losing streak

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After beginning the week with a season-opening victory, East Ridge High School's baseball team struggled on the mound and on defense, sliding onto a three-game losing streak.

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Following a 5-4, comeback victory over fellow Suburban East Conference team Hastings last Monday, the Raptors (1-4, 1-3 SEC) went on to drop the next three-straight contests, including an 8-7 loss to River Falls (Wis.) last Tuesday, an 8-5 defeat at the hands of White Bear Lake last Wednesday, and a 13-2 loss to Mounds View last Friday.

"It wasn't a great week for us," said East Ridge coach Brian Sprout. "We struggled in the two main areas that we've been talking about in the last month: Pitching and defense. We did not do well in those two categories, and that's what cost us."

Though seniors Aaron Rau and Tommy Wermers each went 2-2 at bat against Hastings - including 2 RBI by Wermers - only one of Hastings' four runs was earned. In its one-run loss to River Falls the following day, East Ridge had four errors and walked four batters. Against White Bear Lake, the Raptors' committed eight errors and 8 walks. About half a dozen Mounds View batters advanced because of base on balls as well.

Overall, the team has clocked more than 20 errors - something Sprout says is unacceptable.

"It's an area that we continue to struggle with," he said. "They work really hard, and they want to get after that. Their attitude is only going to help us moving forward, and to try fixing these mistakes."

Offensively, the Raptors' have been hitting the ball well, Sprout said, citing the team's at-bats as the main factor keeping the Raptors in their games. Against River Falls, freshman Carter Stoehr and junior Ryan Gregory each went 2-3 and combined for three RBI. Sophomore Luke Ringhofer and senior David Lang led the team the following day at White Bear Lake, as each went 3-4 and combined for three RBI.

Beginning this week, the Raptors were scheduled to face Stillwater on Monday, Forest Lake on Wednesday and Cretin-Derham Hall on Friday. As of last weekend, Stillwater and Forest Lake were each 2-1 in the SEC, while Cretin-Derham Hall was 3-0 in conference play. Forest Lake is currently ranked No. 6 in early-season, Class 3A state rankings, making this week's agenda no easy task.

"That's our conference in general - there are a lot of good teams, you're always going to be someone tough," Sprout said. "It's a true test of where we're at, and where we need to go. I want our pitchers to throw strikes and I want our defense to get out. That's the two main goals we have for Monday."

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