by Sue Austreng
After three successful pre-season scrimmages for Anoka baseball, a pitchers duel resulted in Park Center shutting out Anoka 2-0 in the season opener April 9.
With only five hits the entire game, Anoka’s only highlight came when pitcher Kevin Persuitti hit a third-inning triple after right fielder Zach Crooker struck out and center fielder Anders Skaalerud was thrown out on an attempted bunt.
Park Center filled the bases three times – twice in the second inning and again in the fourth – and its five well-timed hits and a pair of Anoka errors resulted in two runs.
The errors both occurred in the bottom of the sixth. First Skaalerud dropped a pop up hit by Park Center first baseman Jack Schultz, who then scored when second baseman Clay Anderson overthrew after fielding a ground ball hit by shortstop Tyler Stroh.
Seemingly powerless, Anoka only had three hitters in each of the last four innings.
“We need to be able to win the close games. We had opportunities to score, but we failed to get the hit when our runners were in scoring position,” said Anoka coach Kevin Bross.
The game ended with Anoka first baseman Ryan Sutterer grounding out to the pitcher, designated hitter Brandon Stopka walking then pinch runner Gino Bianchi-Rossi called out for interference.
The umpire ruled that Bianchi-Rossi slid at the second baseman rather than at the bag as he tried to break up a double play. Bianchi-Rossi was tagged out and his high-sliding interference made it impossible for Park Center’s Mark Lundholm to complete the double play. And so the runner at first was called out, ending the game.
“The loss to Park Center was a tough one for several reasons. Being our season opener, it helps set the tone for the season. It’s tough to come off a losing season last year and lose that first game this year,” Bross said after the game.
Next up, Anoka faced Elk River, Centennial and Champlin Park (April 11, 12, and 13) to finish out the week before heading to Osseo April 18.
“We have a good group of kids so we hope to make some adjustments and be ready to go for our next game,” Bross said.