Richfield baseball is on fire

Sports Editor

The Richfield baseball team began the season with a 1-10 record, but head coach Chris Peterson knew good times were ahead for his squad.

Richfield senior Jake Hartke delivers a pitch in game action from earlier this season. Hartke pitched five shutout innings as he guided the Spartans to a 10-0 victory over Kennedy May 11. (Sun Current staff photo by Chris Chesky)

The Spartans have pitched well all season, but they have been waiting for their offense to come alive.

Then, all of a sudden, Richfield began to hit.

The Spartans are suddenly red-hot at the plate, and that has resulted in three consecutive victories for Richfield.

“It’s nice that we have been playing better and it is showing up in the win column,” Peterson said. “We know we’re playing better, but losing is still losing and winning is winning.”

Richfield played in one of its more odd games in recent history against St. Louis Park May 8. The Spartans led 7-2 after three innings, and the Orioles began to climb back with three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning before a lightning strike forced the game to be suspended until the next day.

“It was interesting because I think the lightning helped us, in a way,” Peterson said. “It hurt because it stopped the game and we were doing well, but lightning struck then we played for a bit and they scored a couple runs, then the lightning came again and we shut it down.

“The feeling for me on Monday was ‘oh no, here we go again,’ because we have found ways to lose games, which has been disappointing.”

Richfield found a way to win the game May 9, however, as the Spartans picked up the 9-7 victory.

“I think having the break to help us re-focus helped,” Peterson said. “It was tiring to go back, but we got to reset and think about what we were doing, get a fresh start.

“Matt [McGlinn] getting their kids to ground out to him right away and us scoring two runs was a huge momentum swing, so we knew it wouldn’t be like the other days, we were going to be OK.”

Phil Pollis drove in two runs and Davis Miles recorded one RBI to have the Spartans’ three RBIs in the win.

Chase Androff, McGlinn and Ben Hodek recorded two hits apiece for the Spartans.

Richfield’s confidence from its first victory since the Spartans’ season opener carried over into its game against Cooper, a 10-1 win May 10.

McGlinn (2-for-3 with four RBIs and a run scored), and Patrick Voigt (3-for-4 with three runs scored and two stolen bases) led the Spartans’ offensive output. Cameron MacNabb picked up two RBIs, while Cole Christian and Will Hodek also drove in runs for the Spartans. Miles went 3-for-3, while Will Hodek posted a 2-for-3 line to also record multi-hit games for the Spartans.

“We have been hitting better, so it helps that has been coming together a little bit,” Peterson said. “It’s just confidence, having confidence when hitting is contagious.

“It just kind of snowballs. We have been getting good pitching all year, and it helps to get good hitting to support that.”

Cody Christian provided the Spartans with a strong start, as he allowed just two hits and one unearned run in his four innings, while Phil Pollis (two one-hit innings), and Nathan Daggett (one hit over his one inning) helped the Spartans pick up the 10-1 victory.

Jake Hartke provided the Spartans with one of their best pitching performances of the season in a 10-0 win over Kennedy May 11. Hartke allowed just one hit and one walk in five innings while striking out four batters.

The Richfield bats came alive to support Hartke’s effort, as the Spartans picked up 11 hits.

Voigt (2-for-3 with one run scored and two RBIs), McGlinn (2-for-4 with two RBIs, one run scored and one stolen base), Cole Christian (2-for-2 with three runs scored, two walks and an RBI) and Miles (2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI) guided the Spartan offense.

“In the past we haven’t had the hitting to support that,” Peterson said. “Our ERA is down from last year, and statistically we’re pitching better than we were last year, but we just haven’t seen the results.

“We have been losing 6-4, and now the runs are coming in and the pitchers don’t have to carry the load.”

With the momentum from their three-game winning streak guiding them, Richfield will look to keep up the fun when it plays Benilde-St. Margaret’s at 4:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, at Richfield High School.

Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.