Experienced Irondale hoping for longer season

Going into a season with an inexperienced roster is scary enough. The horrendous spring weather that plagued Minnesota in 2013 made it that much more difficult to get raw players experience.

The Irondale High School baseball team found itself in that position a year ago, and the Knights are hoping for better results all around in 2014. The lack of experience won’t be a problem this year as Irondale returns seven starters among its nine returning letterwinners.

The Knights won just three games last season and had a quarter of the regular season wiped out by bad weather. Irondale head coach Brian Peloquin is expecting bigger and better things this year.

“With more experience and talent, I expect us to compete for a conference championship and hopefully advance quite far in our section,” said Peloquin, who is in his third season as head coach.

This is the final season for Irondale in the North Suburban Conference, which is disbanding at the end of the school year. Next fall, Irondale’s athletic teams will compete in the Northwest Suburban Conference.

Peloquin expects the top competition in the conference this spring to be Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Totino-Grace. He also sees St. Louis Park and Robbinsdale Cooper as possible contenders.

As for his own squad, Peloquin will need the likes of Alex Fredberg, Ben Danielson and Tony Grabowske to perform well to realize the aforementioned goals.

Fredberg led Irondale in 2013 in every major offensive statistical category, including batting average (.389) and on-base percentage (.522). Danielson also put up some strong numbers, including a .308 batting average and .426 on-base percentage.

Peloquin expects Grabowske to lead the pitching staff. He saw limited playing time last year but possesses a fastball clocked in the upper 80s and the ability to locate his offspeed pitches.

In addition to Grabowske, Peloquin said he has four other pitchers he wouldn’t hesitate to start regardless of the opponent.

Run production is one area where Irondale has question marks.

“I am not sure if our weakness will be our hitting, but I am not certain of how many runs we will be able to produce each game,” Peloquin said.

Irondale’s schedule includes three straight non-conference games to open the season, which is set to start Thursday at home against Blaine. Also on the docket this week is a trip to Rogers on Friday.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.

2014 Irondale High School baseball schedule

April 3    vs. Blaine    4:15 p.m.
April 4    at Rogers    4:15 p.m.
April 7    at Centennial    4:15 p.m.
April 10    at St. Louis Park    4:15 p.m.
April 15    vs. Totino-Grace    4:15 p.m.
April 16    at North Branch    4:45 p.m.
April 17    vs. Fridley    4:15 p.m.
April 22    vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s                4:15 p.m.
April 24    at Columbia Heights                4:15 p.m.
April 25    vs. Park Center    4:30 p.m.
April 28    vs. Robbinsdale Cooper                4:15 p.m.
April 30    at Spring Lake Park        4:15 p.m.
May 2    vs. St. Louis Park    4:15 p.m.
May 5    at Totino-Grace    4:15 p.m.
May 7    at Fridley    4:15 p.m.
May 9    at Benilde-St. Margaret’s                4:15 p.m.
May 10    at Mounds View    1 p.m.
May 12    vs. Columbia Heights                4:15 p.m.
May 14    at Robbinsdale Cooper                4:15 p.m.
May 16    vs. Spring Lake Park                4:15 p.m.

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