Anoka baseball dodged the April 18 snowstorm and managed to open the season with a 3-1 win against Maple Grove at the Mall of America Field.
The Tornadoes seemed to be excited to have a chance to play a live, full-speed game, while friends and family contested with giant snowflakes outside the warm confines of the former Minnesota Twins home.
Anoka pitcher Kevin Fleming was in mid-season form striking out seven with no walks in the complete game win. Anoka coach Kevin Bross said Fleming worked ahead in the count to force the Crimson into poor swings.
The plan was to keep Fleming to four or five innings, he said. “He entered the last inning with just over 70 pitches thrown and was able to finish the game,” Bross said.
Combine that performance on the mound with key hitting early and the result was a 1-0 start.
Senior first baseman Ryan Sutterer drove in two runs in the first inning and Clay Anderson followed with three quality at-bats as the team had four extra base hits.
Bross said the prospect of playing in the Dome came about rather quickly.
“We hadn’t stepped onto a baseball field yet, but we were going to play a game,” he said. “We prepared the guys the best we could in the field house.”
The team managed to take some fly balls in the parking lot after the plows removed the snow, just to get some work in for the outfielders. Inside, they attempted to simulate game-speed situations, but the constraints of the fieldhouse limited what they could do. “One of the biggest challenges is that we cannot fit a regulation infield in the gym, so our guys have been making throws that are shorter than what they would make on an actual field,” Bross said.
Getting out on the Metrodome turf didn’t seem to phase Anoka, which didn’t make an error.