St. Louis Park Baseball Club is off to another strong start at 29-18.
The amateur club is 7-2 in the Class A Riverview League standings after beating rival Minnetonka Millers 7-6 in 10 innings on June 15, two days after losing to Bloomington 9-8 and Hopkins Berries 4-2 on June 19.
Player/manager Chris Duda was one of three players to pick up three hits along with veteran firstbaseman Joe Pierce and Dave Lindstrom. Pierce and Lindstrom hit home runs in what has been a team that can hit the long ball with the wooden bat. Park set a team home run record and is on pace to do even better this year.
On Thursday, July 6, Duda reached a huge milestone as he led off the league game against Northwest Orioles with a double for his 1,000 career hit.
“I’ve been waiting for a while to get it, since Spamtown (where they lost to Tonka in the championship on June 25, a spanning four games) so that was really nice. It’s all been with wood bats, too,” Duda said as Park switched from metal bats in 1998, three years before Minnnesota Baseball made the switch.
Last season Paul Paulson hit the career milestone, Duda pointed out, Paulson’s played a decade longer and some of those hits came during the aluminum-era.
Eden Prairie connection
Three players on the roster were part of Eden Prairie High School’s recent success in Trevor Divinski, Mark Ehresman and Ryan Swanson as 2016 grads. Each has found a spot in a major college lineup including Swenson at Creighton University, Ehresman at Nebraska-Omaha and Divinski at Minnesota State Mankato.
Divinski and Ehresman are splitting time with th Eden Prairie Legion team. The legion team didn’t get its season underway as the high school team made an entertaining run to the Class 4A state title in early June. Divinski continued to get work in with Park as Duda kept thinking his next start would be his last before heading over the legion team. “For 5-6 weeks we threw him out there against the toughest teams and he did really well,” Duda said. Divinski is 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA in eight appearances including 4 1/3 innings against the Millers. He gave up four earned runs on five hits with three walks and three strikeouts before Andy Davis worked the next 3 2/3 innings to keep Park close. Tony Manville and Mike Lueck each worked an inning with Lueck earning the win and striking out two.
Divinski is tied with Andy Peterson with six starts, one behind Park veteran hurler Pete Fuller.
He has 35 strikeouts and 11 walks in 33 1/3 innings. He struck out a season-high 10 of the 18 batters faced throwing a one-hit shutout over five innings in a 10-2 win over Lyon’s Pub Warriors on May 18.
Ehrseman, boasts a 4-1 record pitching in seven games. He has 18 strikeouts and 21 walks in 33 2/3 innings. He struck out a season-high six batters in as many innings in an 11-2 win over Rosetown A’s on June 10.
Ehrseman and Diviniski trail Fuller’s team-leading 37 1/3 innings worked.
Ehrseman started six games this spring for the Mavericks, starting in 24 of them with four hits in 30 at-bats. In drove in one run, walked six times and was hit by a pitch four times for the 12-40 Mavericks.
Swenson joined a summer collegiate league in Iowa and isn’t expected to return this summer.
Injuries to several pitchers means having the first-year players helps the team even more.
“We only had nine guys at Spamtown and by the Tonka game it was all positional players throwing by that time.”
In the four games at the Austin tournament, Park was trailing at one point of the seven inning games. Duda added that Park is made to go nine innings, if not longer. “We’re waiting for that big inning and we got it.”
That big inning includes home runs or multiple home runs in one inning. Mike Lueck hit his team-high 11th of the season on July 6. Pierce is at 10 and veteran catcher Adam Seaman is at eight and the team has hit 42 with one month before playoffs.
The rally came twice during a road game at the Chaska Cubs to close out June. Park scored twice in the 11th inning for the 6-4 win as Pierce and Manvile each had two hits. Mike Artl hit a two-run homer in the 11th for the win and Pierce blasted his 10th home run of the season. “Total team effort in front of a huge Chaska crowd,” Duda said.
Pat Bordewick continues to be a bright spot at short stop. The Park native completed his first season at Bethel. “He’s been making plays he probably shouldn’t make, is a great kid and swings a great bat,” Duda said.
At the plate, Bordewick is hitting .324 with 24 RBIs, 16 runs, four home runs and six doubles. He has 12 multi-hit games, reaching three hits in one game three times. In a 16-6 win over Hit Dawg on June 18, Bordewick went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs, driving in five RBIs and scoring three times.
Follow sports editor Jason Olson on Twitter at @SunSportsJason.