Calling all pitchers: Sloppy spring taxes high school baseball staffs

  • Article by: JASON GONZALEZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 21, 2013 - 12:20 AM

Bad weather, few practices and up to eight games a week mean teams can’t have too much pitching.

Pitching had become foreign to Dylan Dresel. The Forest Lake senior had stopped worrying about throwing strikes three years ago when his arm was no longer needed to get hitters out. He focused solely on playing infield, until winter’s prolonged stay this spring changed his focus.

As games were postponed and the season became compressed into more games in fewer weeks, baseball coaches around the Twin Cities began to scramble to find more pitching.

Every canceled practice put an even greater premium on teams blessed with enough pitching to keep important arms from being worn out by a steady diet of doubleheaders and as many as eight games a week.

Dresel and teammates Reid Larson, Brett Gravelle, Clayton Dahly and Joe Vacinek weren’t expecting much, if any, varsity mound time at the beginning of the season. In the Forest Lake media program, three are listed as infielders, another as a junior varsity player. Each, however, has pitching experience, which was all coach Tal Gravelle required when he doubled his pitching staff to 10 arms.

“I just have to throw strikes,” Dresel said of his role. “I feel like we have a pretty deep pitching staff for high school. We’ve got a lot of guys that can throw and a couple good starters. So that helps us out.”

In a typical season, two or perhaps three pitchers would get most of the Forest Lake starts. This year is anything but typical, though. The Rangers have played seven games in each of the past two weeks.

“We’re digging a little deep and got a lot more guys ready to pitch. It’s a strategy,” Gravelle said. “We’ve had two senior players that hadn’t pitched since ninth grade become key contributors to our staff.”

The quality depth has paid off. The Rangers are 10-4 and atop the Suburban East Conference, and the newcomer pitchers are responsible for several of those wins. Dresel picked up his first varsity victory — in his first start since ninth grade — two weeks ago against Woodbury by pitching six innings and giving up only two earned runs. Larson pitched six innings of scoreless relief last week against Cretin-Derham Hall.

Arm supply, control are key

Pitching arms supply and control have emerged as key strategies as the compressed season races toward section playoffs.

Hill-Murray has benefited from a trio of seniors — Luc Henke, Lucas Glomb and Travis Neubeck — with varsity pitching experience from last season to handle the load of innings. Coach Bill Lechner knew he’d have an edge with these arms and several solid relievers to fill the holes.

Woodbury is doing just enough to get by. The coaching staff of the .500 Royals is only asking for a regular-season record good enough for a first-round bye. Junior Nick Yan is helping the Royals get there. He wasn’t expecting a starting role this season, but the condensed schedule earned him Woodbury’s fourth rotation spot. He lasted six innings for the victory last week against Forest Lake.

“We have gone deep [to find arms]. I’m surprised guys can handle it. We’ve been playing a lot,” Yan said. “When it started snowing and we got all the delays and doubleheaders, I thought I might get a chance to start.”

Eagle Valley coach Paul Jenkins told his players that this regular season isn’t about winning and losing. Instead, learn and be ready for the playoffs.

Elk River coach Ryan Holmgren said the extra time to prepare for the season has helped alleviate tired arms. Despite the heavy schedule, his players haven’t shown the fatigue he’s seen with his previous 13 high school teams.

But St. Croix Lutheran coach Todd Russ said he’s noticed arms aren’t as strong as they’ve been in the past at this time of year. He ties it to a lack of outside practice.

Most teams have averaged only four outside practices, sometimes opting for a day off for rest.

Innings taking a toll

  • related content

  • Chart: More games than days for some prep baseball teams

    Monday May 20, 2013

    More games than daysThe wacky spring weather of 2013 has condensed this year’s baseball season like never before. Most teams...

  • Prep athletes of the week: Goal-stopping skills work well in two sports for Eden Prairie's Johnson

    Monday May 20, 2013

    MCKENZIE JOHNSONEden Prairie • lacrosseBetter known as a hockey goalie, the senior is also a five-year standout in goal for...

  • Monday's prep results

    Monday May 20, 2013

    MONDAYBASEBALLLAKE• Minnetonka 2, Hopkins 1MISSOTA• Shakopee 5-4, New Prague 0-3NORTHWEST SUBURBAN• Armstrong 4, Andover 1• Park Center 9, Elk River...

  • None of these Forest Lake players (from left) — Joey Vacinek, Reid Larson, Dylan Dresel, Clayton Dahly and Brett Gravelle — expected to do much pitching this spring. But with inclement weather and games piling up, they’ve all taken their turns on the mound to help the Rangers to the top of the Suburban East Conference.

  • Forest Lake pitcher-by-necessity Dylan Dresel picked up his first varsity victory against Woodbury two weeks ago.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco - M. Bumgarner 7:07 PM
Pittsburgh - E. Volquez
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Carolina 6:00 PM
Columbus
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Detroit
Montreal 7:30 PM
Chicago
Arizona 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Is Paul Molitor the best choice to manage Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close