The official opener for the new Castle Field in Anoka appeared to be going strong for the home team, Anoka Post 102, but an early lead quickly evaporated in favor of Coon Rapids Post 334 in a 6-1 win July 11.
Post 102 coach Dave Steinbring was excited to play a live game that meant something beyond bragging rights. “It was a nice crowd, a lot of enthusiasm for the game and taking that early lead,” he said. “I know we were excited but a good team came back and deflated that enthusiasm and it was tough to bounce back after that.”
The Cardinals posted a five-run, third inning keyed by a Jake Bruner two-RBI single. They took advantage of two walks and two errors in addition to a double by Grant Farley.
Shortstop Bobby Smith also had a big game with three hits and scored an insurance run in the fourth inning after walking to first and stealing second base. Alex Boxwell drove him home on a single.
Anoka got on the board in the second inning when catcher Cole Drew reached base on a walk before scoring on a Ben Sjodin base hit to right field.
Anoka sent pitcher Ryan Rumpca to the mound to face fourth-ranked Coon Rapids the day before Coon Rapids began defense of its back-to-back Gopher Classic titles July 12.
“They’ve been a pretty good team for a long time,” Rumpca said while collecting two base hit in addition to his pitching duties. “A lot of the guys are going off playing college ball so they definitely have some talent and it was a good battle.”
Rumpca gave up seven hits and three earned runs in the loss.
Being the first Anoka pitcher to climb the mound for an official game at the new Castle Field was also special for Rumpca.
“Definitely was exciting,” he said. “We had a pretty good crowd today so it was nice coming out here to see the fans supporting us and it was a fun experience for them to play under the lights. It was nice going out there with a pretty solid mound under your feet.”
Playing in the alumni game one week earlier he said, “It was a blast to go against some of the old guys.”
Post 102 hosted an alumni game to officially open play in the new stadium July 3, complete with a first pitch by Jim Lundeen.
Coon Rapids pitcher Alex Aase took the win in six innings of work. He struck out eight, gave up five hits and walked four before Nick Hanzlik worked the final inning.
Coon Rapids catcher Anthony Mrosla was excited to break in the new ballpark.
“Are you kidding me,” he said about the chance to play in the first game. “First new game on a new field? Count me in. It’s a real nice place, nice thick grass and the batting cages fill it in. I wish I was only a sophomore right now.”
In addition to the new park, facing some familiar faces for one of the last times was also fun for Mrosla.
“I’ve played with three or four guys at the plate and get to catch up with people when they come up to the plate,” he said. “Always fun to be able to catch up with those guys.”
Both teams began play in the Gopher Classic July 11 at various locations throughout the metro area. The day before the Castle Field game, Coon Rapids dropped a double-header to a team from Calgary, Alberta, called the Jr. Dinos, losing 12-8 and 12-1.