Solid mound outings propel RAHS baseball

Coming into the season, the depth of the Roseville Area High School baseball team's pitching staff was a question. At the midway point of the regular season, Roseville head coach Ryan Flanagan likes the answer.

Roseville, at 7-3 through games played April 27, is off to its best start under Flanagan, who is in his fourth year at the helm. He gives plenty of credit for the fast start to the pitching.

The Raiders, ranked 18th in last week's Class AAA coaches poll, picked up victory No. 7, a 3-0 win over eighth-ranked Forest Lake, last Friday thanks to senior Zach Hayes and his seven innings of shutout baseball against the Rangers. Hayes fanned seven and walked only one while giving up six hits.

"I think that's (Hayes') second complete game and the other game he threw he went six and a third," Flanagan said.

Hayes also went the distance in a 6-2 win over Mounds View on April 18. In that game, he fanned two, walked four and surrendered four hits.

Joining Hayes in the rotation are Sean Donovan and Jake Hall with Dan Busch working as the closer.

"(Hayes) and Sean Donovan have been consistent, throwing a lot of strikes," Flanagan said. "They've all been doing well. It has been a nice surprise."

The win over Forest Lake was Roseville's second of the week and also its second against a ranked opponent. On April 23, Roseville blanked sixth-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall 2-0.

In between the Cretin and Forest Lake wins, Roseville dropped a 2-1, extra-inning decision to East Ridge.

"The East Ridge game was actually a well-played game, too," said Flanagan. "Even though we lost, I think it helped quite a bit for (the Forest Lake) game."

The Forest Lake contest was scoreless until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Raiders broke through for three runs. Austin Colvard led off with a triple over the head of Forest Lake right fielder Jack Schmidt and with one out Chris Dishop and Busch walked to load the bases.

Tim Truninger then hit a grounder to Forest Lake first baseman Trenten Rabel, whose throw home trying to nail Colvard was wild. Colvard and Dishop scored on the play to put Roseville in front.

Busch later scored when Mike Stasny grounded to the Rangers shortstop Dylan Dresel, who tried to throw out Ben Buerkle at second base but the throw was late. The play allowed Busch to score.

Armed with a three-run lead, Hayes gave up a couple of hits in the top of the seventh but got out of trouble with groundout and a pair of strikeouts.

Offensively, Roseville isn't scoring as many runs as a year ago and Flanagan chalks that up to the new bats. New regulations require bats to be weighted differently with smaller sweet spots to cut down on the speed the baseball has coming off the bats.

"I like it though; it helps out quite a bit," Flanagan said. "There's really no fear of the home run. We haven't scored nearly as many runs this year. They'll get used to it eventually."

Through nine Suburban East Conference games this season, Roseville has scored 35 runs, compared to 48 through nine conferences games in 2011.

Roseville begins this week tied for second place (with Forest Lake) in the conference standings and a game behind first-place Cretin-Derham Hall.

Roseville has four games on the schedule this week, including a non-conference game at Concordia Academy on Tuesday. The Raiders then host Park-Cottage Grove on Wednesday and travel to Woodbury on Friday.

One note about the Park game on Wednesday: It is a home game for Roseville but it is being played at Dunning Field in St. Paul at 7 p.m. Flanagan said he wanted to get a night game on the schedule and it was unclear whether the regular-season game at Forest Lake would be played at night.

Roseville is playing a night game at Forest Lake's Schumacher Field on May 18 but Flanagan decided to keep the Park game at Dunning.

"We were trying to get a game under the lights before sections," said Flanagan. "Just to get them some experience. I wasn't sure we were going to get Forest Lake under the lights so I scheduled it just in case. We'll still take it."

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

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