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Molin no-hits Forest Lake

Drew Molin hurls a pitch last week against West St. Paul at East Ridge High School. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)1 / 4
Sam Kastner fires in a pitch during East Ridge legion’s 7-3 win over Minot, ND on Tuesday at East Ridge High School. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)2 / 4
Cal Kellner guns down a runner at first during East Ridge Legion’s 7-3 win over Minot, ND on Tuesday at East Ridge High School. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick)3 / 4
Members of the Woodbury American Legion Post 501 came out to support the East Ridge legion club Tuesday at East Ridge High School. The players and legionnaires got together for a cookout following the game. (Bulletin photo by Jace Frederick) 4 / 4

Drew Molin already had a no-hitter to his name.

He tossed one when he was in eighth grade.

Still, the one he threw Monday night as the Raptors legion club topped Forest Lake 5-0 was a little more special -- for a couple of reasons.

For one, he admitted the competition is more stout these days. And two, his mother, who wasn’t at the game when he threw his first no-hitter, was in the stands Monday.

“It means a lot,” he said. “She was actually there to see this one, so that was a good thing.”

Molin entered the day not knowing if he’d be physically capable of pitching. He had a kink in his neck that made throwing and swinging a bat painful.

But he did throw, and he was lights out.

Molin threw only 88 pitches in the seven-inning performance. He had great command of the strike zone, tossing first-pitch strikes to 15 of the 25 batters he faced en route to striking out six.

“I’ve seen him a lot obviously over the last three years and he’s been really good, but [Monday] he was on,” East Ridge legion coach Tyler Welch said. “He threw very well, kept them off balance, threw strikes and attacked the zone. He’s got pretty good command, so he’s tough to hit when he’s on.”

Despite not giving up any hits, Molin did run into some trouble in the third inning. Two walks and an error loaded the bases for Forest Lake with two outs, but Molin induced a groundout to second to escape the situation unscathed.

Molin said he felt his neck loosen up as the game went on. And as he strolled back to the dugout in the fourth with the no-hitter still intact, he couldn’t believe what was occurring.

“I was like ‘is this really happening?’” he said. “I just kept going at it.”

Molin was untouchable from that point forward. He didn’t allow a single baserunner in the final three innings and finished off the no-hitter with a true flash of dominance, striking out the final four batters he faced.

“It’s a pretty crazy feeling that I actually got to do it twice,” he said. “Because not a lot of people have done it once.”

The Raptors legion club fell 6-4 in the second game of the doubleheader with Forest Lake.

East Ridge jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the opening frame when Cal Kellner doubled in Luke Ringhofer. The Raptors built a lead as big as 3-1 heading into the fifth inning, but that’s when things unraveled.

Forest Lake strung five hits together in the fifth to plate four runs and take a lead it wouldn’t surrender.

Connor Lejcher led the way offensively for East Ridge. He went 3-for-3 at the dish with one RBI and a run scored after missing the prior week of action for the Raptors.

“He’s been hitting the heck out of it,” Welch said.

The Raptors spent much of last week attempting to dig themselves out of large holes after difficult starts.

That wasn’t the case Tuesday night as East Ridge jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on Minot, ND, which keyed a 7-3 Raptors victory.

“That’s our big thing is coming out with energy,” Welch said. “I’ve been harping on them and they haven’t done the best job of that the last week or so. It was good.”

Sam Kastner earned the win on the mound, throwing all seven innings in the victory.

“He’s been working on some stuff mechanically and it’s all starting to come together,” Welch said. “His last two outings have been very good. He’s throwing a lot more strikes and he’s attacking hitters. That’s the biggest thing. When he throws it over the plate, he’s got good stuff and he’s got a good arm. He doesn’t have any issues really when he’s throwing strikes, so he’s been doing good in that end.”

Tuesday was a special occasion for the Raptors legion team, as members from the Woodbury American Legion Post 501 were in attendance. The legionnaires and players were able to congregate for a postgame cookout after the victory.

“It’s good to show them that we appreciate their support and what they do for us in sponsoring our program,” Welch said. “It’s good to have them out and I think they enjoy it, too.”

The attending members of Post 501 were honored during a pregame ceremony, as well.

“It’s a big honor [to play in front of them],” Molin said. “I had the chance to shake their hands in the beginning, and it was pretty great.”