Hopefully the last indoor baseball game of the season was played May 2 at the Metrodome when Anoka rallied to top Andover 7-5 in eight innings.
As much offense as the final score indicates, the reality was both defenses struggled in the rivalry game.
Lost balls in the white ceiling, overthrows to first base or simply not closing the glove to secure the baseball were a few of the mistakes in the field that cost each side runs. In all, eight errors were recorded as Anoka (4-3) played its seventh game of the season, the third under a dome and second at the Metrodome. It had not had an outdoor practice as of May 4.
Andover (1-2) played just its third game of the season after splitting a doubleheader against Blaine April 29 and has only had two outdoor practices.
Despite playing significantly fewer games, Andover coach Don Gawreluk wasn’t about to use that as an excuse for the loss.
“No excuse,” he said. “We didn’t play well. We just didn’t track baseballs the way we should. It doesn’t matter if we’re in a dome, in a gym, outside on a field or on a playground, we didn’t track baseballs. I don’t know if was losing focus or not being ready for the pitch.”
Anoka coach Kevin Bross echoed Gawreluk’s sentiments. “Our outfield was not sharp,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the dome or not being outside… both sides combined for eight errors and that’s besides the mental errors. That’s just frustrating.”
Many of the mistakes in the field came in the later innings with the lead going back and forth.
Anoka senior captain Ryan Rumpca was the starting pitcher and also got it done for the Tornadoes at the plate.
He moved from the No. 2 slot to third in the batting order and took advantage going 4-for-4 and was a home run short of hitting for the cycle. He had two doubles and knocked in three RBI.
“Incredible,” Bross said. “He was unconscious today. He was OK for a while in the two-hole but he’s aggressive at the plate so we moved him down to third and he’s seeing the ball really well.”
Rumpca, while pitching, took a no-hitter into the fourth inning.
His outing ended with two outs in the fifth inning after the Huskies scored three times to lead 4-2. Rumpca gave up five hits and four runs before Kyle Flemming worked the final 3.1 innings for the win.
Andover’s Erik Olsen broke the no-hit bid when he lined a single to left field to set the table for Jarrod Morgel’s RBI triple down the right field line to tie the game at 2-2. Justin Kligl followed with a high-fly ball to right field that was lost in the ceiling and resulted in consecutive RBI-triples for the Huskies.
After a trip to the mound by Bross, Andover’s Justin Freyholtz ripped the ball over in right center field fence on one bounce for a ground-rule double. The hit chased Rumpca from the mound and left Anoka trailing 4-2.
The Tornadoes responded in the top of the sixth inning with heads-up base running.
Andover first baseman Grant Nelson was pulled off the base to catch a throw and Anoka’s Flemming was safe to extend the inning.
Flemming took advantage of poor fielding by the Huskies, first by stealing second base on a pitch in the dirt then taking off for third base. Andover catcher Jake Nelson’s throw to third glanced off third baseman Tyler Tomberlain and rolled into the Huskies dugout to score Flemming and cut the Huskies lead to 4-3.
After a scoreless bottom of the sixth inning, Anoka returned to bat and added a pair of runs to make it 5-4. The Tornadoes tied the game by manufacturing a run after a lead-off walk by Jason Brumbaugh. Clay Anderson bunted him to second base and Brett Bybee’s ground out moved him to third base. Rumpca laced a liner down the left field line to tie the game. Brumbaugh’s warning-track fly ball to left field dropped off a Huskies outfielder to score Rumpca and Brumbaugh stood on third base.
Down 5-4 in its final at-bat, Andover took advantage of Anoka’s fielding errors. Kane Ruhl legged out a weakly-hit ground ball to Anoka first baseman Ryan Sutterer, who had trouble controlling the ball and stepping on the base before Ruhl. The error proved costly as Andover’s Jerrod Morgel put down a bunt to advance Ruhl. The Anoka fielder overthrew first base as the ball carried into right field and Ruhl came all the way around to score the tying run.
Anoka’s pitcher, Flemming, shut the door with two quick strikeouts to stop the threat and send the game into an eighth inning.
Just as the Andover inning went, Anoka’s lead-off batter, Matt Wagner shot a single past the third baseman. Flemming followed with a bunt. Andover pitcher Austin Strombeck overthrew first base to give the Tornadoes runners at second and third bases with one out. A well-executed squeeze play with a well-placed bunt down the third base line allowed Wagner to beat the throw home. The ball glanced away from home plate, but Flemming was thrown out at the plate.
Clay Anderson followed with a deep fly ball that landed near the right field foul line for an RBI-double for the final run of the game.
Coming back seems to be a trend for the Tornadoes which won its opening two games with come-from-behind victories.
“These guys don’t give up,” Bross said of Anoka’s late rallies. “They don’t have a panic button and play well under pressure. But at the same time, we have been giving the game away with errors; that’s just frustrating.”
Jason Olson is at firstname.lastname@example.org