Park rallies for thrilling win

By John Molene
Posted 5/22/24

Like something from the Walking Dead, Park’s Wolfpack was dead and buried, not once, but twice. But refused to be killed off.

Park rallied from deficits of 5-0 in the fifth and 8-7 in the …

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Park rallies for thrilling win


Like something from the Walking Dead, Park’s Wolfpack was dead and buried, not once, but twice. But refused to be killed off.

Park rallied from deficits of 5-0 in the fifth and 8-7 in the seventh to win a 9-7 thriller over visiting Forest Lake Friday evening in a game that started in bright sunshine, finished under rain clouds and ended with a Wolfpack storm.

Senior first baseman Charlie Brooke delivered the game-winning hit for the Wolfpack with two out and two on in the bottom of the seventh, then survived a wild celebration from teammates.

“I was just looking for a pitch in my zone to hit, the first pitch was right down the middle, and I just smacked it the opposite way, it fell,” said Brooke. “It’s a big momentum booster going into sections because we feel we can compete with every team in our section. And it just gives us some momentum going in.”

It was as good a win as the hard-luck Wolfpack has had this season and helped erase the frustration that came from a series of frustrating five one-run losses. It also stopped the bleeding of three conference defeats.

“I’m ecstatic for the boys, and that pure excitement where they dog piled on Charlie and ran way down there,” said Park head coach David Darr. “That was awesome to see because there’s a lot of pent-up frustration because we’ve been so close, even against Stillwater. One inning, one inning and it blew up on us. Otherwise, we competed with them. For the most part that’s how it’s gone.

“Today, Adam (Tait) didn’t have his best stuff bit he pitched and he didn’t let innings blow up on him,” Darr continued. “And he kept us close enough that we could score and come back and we did that. For these guys to keep battling and I’ve said it and I’ve told these guys all year that that’s one thing this team has done, they haven’t quit, and they’ve had reasons to. You lose all those close games, things aren’t going our way, we’re toward the end of the season, we’ve got a lot of seniors – you hope they don’t but in the back of their minds it has to creep in, like what are we doing, it’s not working. But they haven’t and that’s a testament to these guys, they haven’t quit. And we had so many guys who contributed today.”

Park improved to 4-13 in the Suburban East Conference and 5-13 on the season. Forest Lake fell to 6-11 in the SEC and 7-11 overall.

For most of the game, it looked like Park was going to go down. The Wolfpack trailed 1-0 after one, 3-0 after four and 5-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth. But Park’s bats came alive in the fifth as the Wolfpack pushed across seven runs to take a 7-5 lead. The Wolfpack strung together five walks and three singles for seven runs in the fifth.

That Park lead disappeared in the bottom of the seventh, however, as Forest Lake scored twice to take an 8-7 advantage. When Park’s first two batters of the seventh failed to connect, this one looked over.

That proved to be just a tease. Park’s David Rolf and Justin Waterman got things started with walks to set the stage, then Anson Dockter delivered just what the Doctor had ordered with a single up the middle to move the runners along. That set the stage for Brooke’s game winner and the Park party was on.

“I feel good,” said junior shortstop Max Kaplan. “It has been a pretty tough season with the losses, but we didn’t stop battling today. We came back, got some clutch hits and it’s looking good to go on into sections from here. It feels good to have one go the other way.”

Park wraps up the regular season Thursday with a non-conference game at Owatonna (11-5), starting at 5:30 p.m.

Stillwater 7, Park 2

League-leading Stillwater took a 7-2 decision from Park at Cottage Grove Wednesday in Suburban East Conference baseball.

The third-ranked Ponies improved to 12-4 in the conference and 14-4 on the season. Park slipped to 3-12 in the SEC and 4-12 overall.

Cretin-Derham Hall 2, Park 1

It was as if the gods were laughing at the Wolfpack Monday in St. Paul. Just three days after a dramatic one-run win over Forest Lake, Park lost by a run at Cretin-Derham Hall, falling 2-1.

It was the sixth one-run loss for the Wolfpack this season.

Park fell to 4-14 in the Suburban East Conference, finished ninth in the league, and 5-14 on the season. Cretin boosted its overall record to 12-7.

East Ridge and Stillwater tied for the SEC crown this season, both finishing with 13-5 conference records. Cretin and Mounds View tied for third at 12-6 each.