Scoring runs not easy for Blaze, or its foes

Fourth-ranked baseball team holding its own

Burnsville’s Christopher Santilli throws to first base to try to complete a double play in a South Suburban Conference baseball game at Rosemount. Sliding into the base is Rosemount’s Jordan Turner. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

Burnsville’s Christopher Santilli throws to first base to try to complete a double play in a South Suburban Conference baseball game at Rosemount. Sliding into the base is Rosemount’s Jordan Turner. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

One it finally got outside, Burnsville’s baseball team found runs difficult to come by. But its opponents had the same problem, and that meant the fourth-ranked Blaze was 3-1 in its first four games.

“When kids are seeing pitches at around 74-75 (mph, in batting practice), it can be tough to hit in a game against a kid who’s throwing 83-86,” coach Mick Scholl said April 26 after the Blaze split a South Suburban Conference doubleheader at Rosemount. “That, and (Thursday of last week) was the first day we hit outside since we got back from our spring trip.”

The Blaze lost 1-0 to Rosemount as Irish pitcher Jake Schulze threw a two-hit shutout. Burnsville won the second game 5-2, then on Saturday edged Chaska 3-2 in a non-conference game. Burnsville also has a 13-6 victory over Duluth Denfeld at the Metrodome in early April.

With the schedule so compressed – the Blaze is hoping to get in 19 regular-season games by May 21, three days before the section playoffs start – monitoring the pitchers’ workload will be a challenge.

Burnsville’s pitchers, including No. 1 starter Tyler Hanson, are on pitch counts. In the first game against Rosemount, Hanson threw five scoreless innings and 71 pitches before the coaches decided that was enough for the day. Rosemount scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the sixth.

“It’s hard to take a kid out when he’s throwing like that, but we’re not going to risk injuries,” Scholl said.

Hanson, who starts at third base when not pitching, likely will get one start per week on the mound. His pitching workload could increase once the Blaze gets into the playoffs, but until then an assortment of players will be called on to eat innings.

Scholl said he liked how Zach Smith pitched in an inning of relief against Rosemount event though Smith ended up with the loss.

Schulze threw just 78 pitches in a complete game. He walked nobody and struck out five. Hanson had Burnsville’s only two hits.

The lack of offense “had a lot to do with their pitcher,” Scholl said. “In the second game our kids were able to see the ball a lot better, and they moved runners and hit the ball the other way.”

Burnsville beat Rosemount 5-2 in the second game of the doubleheader. Eric Watters, Tyler Hanson and Eric Hanson all had RBI singles. Chris Santilli drove in a run on a fielder’s choice and Will Reger scored on a wild pitch. Aaron Rozek was the starting pitcher and worked into the fifth inning before Cooper Maas came in to finish.

Burnsville defeated Chaska 3-2 on Saturday at Chaska Athletic Park as Tyler Hanson, Ben Sherman and Logan Vermeer drove in runs. Smith pitched the final 2 1/3 innings and earned the victory.

The offense perked up a bit this week as Burnsville defeated Bloomington Kennedy 8-6 and Hopkins 15-6 to improve to 5-1 overall before winter swept back in, once again disrupting the spring sports schedule.

Burnsville is scheduled to play at Eagan on Monday and at defending state Class AAA champion Eastview on Tuesday, with both games starting at 4:15 p.m.

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