East Ridge Legion baseball: Raptors making playoff pushAs the temperatures are warming up, so too has the East Ridge Legion baseball team.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
As the temperatures are warming up, so too has the East Ridge Legion baseball team.
The East Ridge Post 501 baseball team won five games in a row before losing two games in the Gopher Classic Tournament this past weekend. Overall, since starting the season 3-10, East Ridge has gone 9-9 and improved to 12-19 on the year. With four games remaining before District 3 playoffs, East Ridge is 4-8 and in the middle of the pack in the League F standings.
East Ridge head coach Chris Doege said he feels his team is playing its best ball of the year right now, but needs to keep it up if it wants to make the postseason cut.
“Right now we’re in playoff mode,” Doege said. “We know we stumbled early on in the season and lost some games we probably should’ve won. But, we’ve been playing really well lately. I think we need to win at least three of the last four games to make it into the district tournament. Every game is a must-win here on in.”
Most recently, East Ridge went 3-2 in its five games at the Gopher Classic – the largest Legion baseball tournament in the country. East Ridge beat Minneapolis Southwest 5-4, Litchfield 4-0 and Thunder Bay 10-7 before falling 15-3 to Maple Grove and 6-4 to Sioux Falls, S.D.
Prior to the tournament, Post 501 beat one of the top teams in League F, Inver Grove Heights , 11-7 on Wednesday, July 11. The win came on the heels of East Ridge’s 10-3 victory over rival Woodbury Blue two Mondays ago.
“I think we played really well,” Doege said. “The team struggled early as our early record showed. But, to win five straight games, that shows this team has a chance to make a run in the playoffs. Our pitching staff is starting to come together and we’re fielding the ball well.”
In the win over Inver Grove Heights, starting pitcher Josh Stuempert, who will be a senior at East Ridge this fall, earned the win. Doege said Stuempert has had a breakout summer.
“Josh has been a real revelation this summer,” Doege said. “He’s a real tall kid, he played JV last year, but has a real good pitcher’s body. For whatever reason, this summer, he’s been locked in. He’s been throwing a lot of strikes and developed as a pitcher. With him and Drew Molin back-to-back, it gives us a chance to beat anybody.”
At the plate, on the year, Luke Ringhofer leads the team in hits with 30, including nine doubles in 87 at-bats for a .345 average, which is tops on the team. Ryan Gregory is second in hits for East Ridge with 28 and is batting .326 on the season. Aaron Rau is third in hits with 27, including seven doubles and is batting .338. Luke Weimer has the team’s lone home run, along with seven doubles and is batting .320, while Kyle Duffy has a team-leading 23 runs scored, while batting .298.
East Ridge plays three of its final four regular-season games at home. Doege hopes the home fans will come out to support his squad.
“This is kind of the last chance for parents and friends and everybody to come out and show their support for us,” Doege said. “These games are really important for us to make our case for the playoffs. It’d be great to see people come out.”
East Ridge is at Mahtomedi on Wednesday, July 18, but then plays a double header against rival St. Paul Park (Park High School) on Thursday, July 19, at East Ridge before ending the year with a nine-inning non-league game at home against Red Wing.
“One of the things I’m trying to instill in these guys is to make other teams beat us and not to beat ourselves,” Doege said. “We were able to do that this last weekend. Pitchers threw strikes and batters had good at-bats. We played the type of baseball it’s going to take to be successful. We’ve beaten a lot of really good teams this season. It just basically comes down to if we take care of the baseball or not.”