The Richfield Reds American Legion baseball team, coming off a 2016 summer season in which it posted a record above .500, is looking to string together its second consecutive strong campaign.
While the senior-heavy Richfield High School baseball team posted a five-win season this year, the Reds are made up of a healthy mix of youth and experience.
While the goal for the Reds each time out will be to win games, Richfield head coach Jason Boie also wants each member of his team, no matter the age, to have a defined role on the squad.
“We have essentially six more weeks to find a role for everybody, to make sure everybody has a role and that they fill that role to the best of their ability,” Boie said. “Some guys have been here, most of the seniors have been with me for the last six seasons in school ball or summer ball, but now we have to plug in and fill in and see who will fill the roles of the guys that left.”
The Reds have posted a 2-5 record through their first seven games, but Boie has been pleased with how his team has played in its two wins, especially at the plate.
“We have been able to get guys on base early in the games that we have won,” Boie said. “That’s when we do our sacrifice bunting and our hit and runs, and when you’re in close games early, you can do those things.
“We have also been putting the ball in play, we struck out a lot during the high school season. We have been really focusing on our two-strike hitting and I think we have done well with that.”
Richfield earned its first victory of the summer season with a 10-4 win over North East June 13.
Cole Christian went 3-for-5 with two runs scored, while Matt McGlinn and Nick Ulmer each went 2-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the Richfield offense. Davis Miles, Asa Carlson, Cody Christian and Phil Pollis picked up RBIs for the Reds.
Richfield received good outings from its four pitchers, as Dylan Jagdeo, Matt Hughes, Nate Daggett and McGlinn did not allow an earned run in the contest. The four pitchers also combined to strike out 10 batters in the victory.
Richfield was unable to carry the momentum from its first win into its next game, as a seven-run first inning led the Reds to a 10-6 loss to Gopher Post 1. Joel Schaefer, Ulmer and Pollis picked up hits for the Reds, while Dino Garcia, Jake Hartke and Carlson picked up RBIs in the loss.
Richfield then improved to 2-2 on the season with a 4-1 win over Bloomington Gold June 16. Schaefer, Chase Androff and Hartke picked up hits, while Androff, Garcia, Daggett and Jeremiah Zilka picked up RBIs.
Hartke led the Reds to victory on the mound by pitching seven strong innings, allowing just two hits, one walk, one unearned run and striking out five batters.
“We’re up and down, but [win over Gold] was an absolute up,” Boie said. “Jake [Hartke] pitched his heart out, he loves this mound here, he has thrown three complete games here this season.
“He went out there, battled and threw strikes, we played defense behind him and then we put the ball in play. They did everything we ask them to do today, that’s throw strikes on the mound, put the ball in play and then good things will happen.”
The Reds, in the second game of a doubleheader, fell 6-0 to Coon Rapids June 16. Richfield then fell 10-4 to Rosetown June 18.
Cole Christian led the Reds by going 2-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs. Schaefer and Cody Christian also picked up RBIs for the Reds, while Zilka went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Richfield rounded out its weekend tournament with a 7-3 loss to Excelsior 2 June 18.
Schafer went 3-for-3 with one run scored to lead the Reds, while Androff went 2-for-2 with one RBI. McGlinn went 1-for-2 with one RBI.
Richfield will play its next game of the season against Northeast at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 22, at Kispy Field.
Follow Richfield sports editor Chris Chesky on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris and on Facebook at SunSportsStaff.