Panthers baseball holding most teams in check
Burnsville’s bat causes some problems
Lakeville North baseball has remained competitive in nearly every game this season thanks to a strong pitching rotation and key defensive stops.
The team has given up an average of 2.6 runs per game, which is almost three fewer than last season.
Of the 40 runs the Panthers have surrendered, 20 came in two losses against the Blaze and 11 against Prior Lake. The rest have been low-scoring wins.
When Burnsville came to town Monday, the No. 1 ranked team in the state put up several extra base hits in a 12-2, five-inning defeat of the Panthers. It was the team’s largest loss of the season in many ways.
In addition to being its largest margin of defeat, it was the most runs the Panthers had given up all season. It also gave the Panthers three conference losses, two behind conference-leading Burnsville.
“There’s a reason they’re No. 1 in the state,” head coach Tony Market said. “They’re going to be tough to beat when they’re on top of their game. They’re hitting on all cylinders right now.”
Market said he hoped the players would use the loss as a learning experience.
“You zero in on things that you have to get better at,” Market said. “Other games on paper we’re supposed to win or at least be competitive. We’ve been in every game. We’ve got timely hitting. We have great pitching. Our defense is getting better. We might not get there in the end, but we’ll get better every day.”
With several younger players taking on large roles for North, Market hopes one day they can emulate a senior-heavy Burnsville squad.
“Our guys have to look at the present but then in the future in order to beat a team like that,” Market said. “They have careers ahead of them, so we’ll see where that goes.”
Scoring only two runs was also rare for the Panthers. While the numbers are about the same as last season, every team in Minnesota is dealing with the new requirements placed on bats.
The less lively bats have led to a decrease in runs for several teams in the South Suburban Conference, including Burnsville, Apple Valley, Rosemount and Bloomington Jefferson.
The Panthers haven’t seen as big of a drop-off considering the team is starting several newcomers.
Lakeville South has had an exciting second half of the season since starting 1-8.
The Cougars defeated Burnsville, the No. 1 ranked team in the state and defending state champion, 9-8 on April 30, then lost a one-run game to Eagan on May 2 before getting their largest margin of victory against Prior Lake on May 3.
The boys defeated the Lakers 7-1 thanks to six runs in the eighth inning with big hits from Mitch Jans and Jacob Miller. Will Lundquist had nine strikeouts in the win.
The Cougars were two-hit by Eastview in a 10-0 loss on Monday. The two hits came from Hunter Harnisch and Garret Delich.
The Cougars will pay a visit to the Panthers on Monday. Lakeville North won the first game between the two 2-1, on April 23.