Baseball falls in Section finals

Boys look forward to next season

Sophomore+Zach+Helfman+up+to+bat+June+9.+Park+played+Hopkins+in+sections+and+lost+blank+-+blank.

Amelia Mickelson

Sophomore Zach Helfman up to bat June 9. Park played Hopkins in sections and lost blank – blank.

Tobias Khabie

As Hopkins ran up the scoreboard in a pullout victory, senior captain Ethan Schmitz said the team could feel the season slipping out of its hands, yet it still kept pushing until the end.

“As (the game) went on everyone could just feel being down but no one really hung their heads and we kept pushing,” Schmitz said.

The team displayed what head coach Brian Kelly called “blue collar baseball,” putting their heads down and grinding, in the 15-8 loss against Hopkins in the Sections finals June 9.

“We’re St. Louis Park, we’re one of the smallest teams in AAAA, and so we’re facing teams that are two, three times our size,” Kelly said. “We just drop our lunch in a pail and just come out here and work our butts off.”

We’ll still have that reputation of being the little St. Louis Park team that’s by Edina and by Hopkins. I don’t think they’re ready. We’re coming strong.”

— Stefano Giovannelli

Due to the double-elimination stature of the Sections tournament, Park, coming in with a previous loss to Hopkins, had to beat Hopkins twice, as they had yet to lose a game in the tournament. Park lost the first game, eliminating the need for a second game. Sophomore Stefano Giovannelli said the team was just focused on winning one game at a time.

“The mindset we talked about at practice was definitely just focusing on the first game, just before focusing on the second game because we need to win the first one,” Giovannelli said. “We knew (Hopkins) was a great team and that we needed 100 percent focus going in that first game.” 

The game was neck and neck until the fifth inning when Hopkins pulled away. According to Kelly, who took the team to the Section finals for the third time in five seasons, the seven-run lead that Hopkins built did not deter the team’s spirit.

“There was no quit in us as a coaching staff or the boys or anything it was all just ‘let’s keep grinding,’” Kelly said.

As the team looks forward to next season, Schmitz, who graduated this year, said he is excited for what the younger players will bring to the table next season.

“I’m obviously devastated that we lost, (the) season’s over, but I feel real confident in these kids for next year,” Schmitz said.

Kelly said he is looking forward to working with the team this offseason to prepare it for another run in the Sections tournament next season.

“This summer is going to be big for us with offseason training, we’re going to keep trying to improve and never be satisfied,” Kelly said.

Giovannelli said he expects other teams to overlook Park next season, but he is confident the team is going to come out and dominate the competition.

“We’ll still have that reputation of being the little St. Louis Park team that’s by Edina and by Hopkins,” Giovannelli said. “I don’t think they’re ready. We’re coming strong.”