Rangers score early, triumph over PatsMay 7, 2021
By JIMMY LAFAKIS
LINCOLN CITY — Friday evening’s Pocket Athletic Conference contest between Forest Park (11-6, 6-3) and Heritage Hills (6-13, 2-7) showcased a little bit of everything. Intermittent patches of rain, scintillating gleams of sunshine and a simultaneous mix of both entities shrouded the action in an air of unpredictability.
When the skies cleared, the Rangers earned their sixth consecutive victory in 11-6 fashion. The teams endured a brief rain delay in the middle of the second inning, but the tarps came off after about five minutes passed.
“I don’t think the rain delay affected us,” Forest Park head coach Jarred Howard said. “It may have actually restarted us. In the first inning, we didn’t swing the bat really well. We had a little break, and then we started hitting an inning later. It didn’t hurt us. If anything, it kind of gives you a chance to sit back, get a deep breath and then go back at it.”
A squadron of Heritage Hills players sprinted to apply and remove the tarps during the intermission.
“These boys do anything that you ask of them,” Pats head coach Andy Fischer said. “It’s the mentality we have with our coaching staff on down. We all respect each other a whole lot. If anything is ever asked of us as a coaching staff or as a player, we try to get it done. It’s nothing new to see them come up here and tarp. This morning, they got here at 7:40 in the morning. Before school, we were all up here. We had the music going. We were taking off the tarps, raking and getting the field ready. It’s fun — that’s what good teams do. ”
The first two innings were scoreless, but the Rangers made an impact in the bottom of the third frame. Forest Park batted around in the seven-run inning, and the Rangers manufactured a substantial 7-0 advantage.
“The ball was bouncing our way that inning,” Howard said. “It helped us out. Early in the year, we left runners on base. Tonight and in the last two weeks, we’ve had runners on base and we’ve produced at the plate. We’ve scored runs. Our guys are getting better every week. We’re playing a bunch of young guys, so they’re figuring it out a little bit. I’m happy with our guys.”
Shortly after the Rangers racked up the runs, the rain emerged from the skies once again. The teams battled through the elements and played on.
Forest Park maintained its lead throughout the third inning, but the Pats cut the deficit in the bottom of the fourth. A series of hard-hit balls brought the score to 7-3.
“We cut into it,” Fischer said. “I told them, ‘Don’t hang your heads. We don’t have to get them all back at one time. Just try to put a couple up here and there.’ That’s exactly what we did. The whole mentality of the team changed. We just needed to keep on playing.”
The bats stayed silent until the seventh inning. Forest Park added four insurance runs in the top half of the frame. Heritage Hills struck back with three runs, but the two-out threat ended after the initial excitement.
Forest Park sophomore Jaden Schuetter notched a 3-for-4 evening at the plate. Junior Brody Klem drove in a team-high four runs and added a triple. The Rangers tallied 13 hits in the contest.
Pats junior Evan Bowling and senior Lane Spencer each finished with 2-for-3 performances. Bowling knocked in two runs for the Pats.
Heritage Hills returns on Tuesday at PAC foe Southridge.
“You only get better by playing good teams,” Fischer said. “Southridge is a great team. They’ve got a lot of talent. We’re just going to go out there and try to play error-free baseball, execute our pitches, make our plays and get some timely hits.”
Forest Park plays Hancock County Saturday at home.
“We’ve played them about half the years that I’ve been here,” Howard said. “They’re a good, quality ball club. They’re known for their baseball. It’s a smaller school. They’re very similar to us.”
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