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East Ridge baseball: Raptors clipped by Mustangs, season ends

After defeating rival Woodbury in the first round of the section 4AAA playoffs, the East Ridge baseball team fell 10-7 to Suburban East Conference adversary Mounds View on Tuesday, May 31, at Midway Stadium in St. Paul, ending the season.

The Raptors, who split the season series and shared identical conference records (10-8) with Mounds View, were able to mount a 4-0 lead early, scoring two runs in both the second and third innings.

The game changed however in the bottom of the third, when Mounds View (12-8; 10-8 SEC) scored six runs, taking a 6-4 lead it would never relinquish.

East Ridge coach Brian Sprout said it just wasn't the Raptors day.

"Everything that could go wrong did go wrong: they hit the ball, we didn't throw strikes, and we didn't execute on a few plays," said Sprout. "The kids played really hard but we didn't get outs in a few key spots."

Senior Mitch Luebbe, who pitched a complete-game one-hitter in the first round against Woodbury, was not as effective on this day: he allowed nine runs in three innings before giving way to junior Mark Landgrebe.

Sprout said Luebbe's performance was not due to lack of effort - but more so a lack of command of his pitches.

"It isn't because he isn't working hard," said Sprout of Luebbe. "He just didn't hit his spots when he needed to and they hit the ball when they were supposed to."

East Ridge answered Mounds View's six-run third inning with a run in the top of the fourth. Junior Andy Sammon drove in senior Ryan Betz with an RBI triple, making the score 6-5.

Mounds View then loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth, at which point junior Mark Landgrebe entered the game, relieving Luebbe. After Mounds cleared the bases on a double, making the score 9-5, Landgrebe was able settle down and pitch three innings, only allowing one earned run.

Sprout said he looks for Landgrebe to be the ace of the staff for the Raptors in the 2011-12 season.

"The kid is talented," said Sprout. "He just goes out there and throws strikes and gets outs and that is what he's done for a couple of years for us now. We are looking forward to him kind of being the anchor of things next year."

The Raptors tried to mount a comeback in the top of the fifth when senior Jake Leviska walked to lead off the inning, followed by a single from senior Grady Rolando and another walk to Ryan Gregory. A single by junior David Lang drove in Leviska, and junior Lance Durand drove in Rolando with a sacrifice fly, concluding the scoring for the Raptors.

Coach Sprout said he was proud of his seniors and legacy they will leave behind.

"We got a huge group of seniors that are leaving here and I think they built a legacy based on working hard every single day and competing - they were a bunch of gamers," said Sprout. "Hopefully, the rest of the kids in the program see that and pattern themselves after that."

The Raptors end the season 12-8 and 10-8 in the SEC, tied for fourth.