Scott Foltz said he doesn’t know why the moment stands out so vividly, but the foreshadowing certainly held true.
Sitting in the dugout as a 15-year-old, the current baseball senior remembers his then-coach, Kyle McNary, making a bold statement about the team’s abilities.
“He said when we were 15 that a lot of us had the potential to play college baseball,” Foltz said. “And he was right about that.”
The Orioles finished up the 2011 regular season 13-5, and their success has much to do with the team’s talented group of senior leaders. Of the 10 seniors on this year’s team, six have committed to play college baseball next year.
Derrick Keller plans to play at Southwest Minnesota State University, while Christian Erickson is set to play at St. Olaf College, Foltz at Macalester College, Bobby Otto at St. John’s University, Ryne McNary at Augsburg College and John Gallice at University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Current coach Aaron McEachran said he recognized early on that this is a special class—one that doesn’t come around often. Not only do the kids love the game and play hard every night, but their ambitions to move on and play collegiate ball has helped keep the team’s level of competition elevated.
“They understand they need to be playing for next-level baseball,” McEachran said. “They are seniors and they’re getting ready for their first year of college baseball, so they’re trying to play at that level. That’s going to up our level of competition, and we’re going to play really hard that way.”
It’s a journey that began eight years ago. The majority of this year’s seniors formed a team as 10-year-olds and went through the ups and downs of baseball together.
Foltz said the group enjoyed an early winning streak at the B level, then went through growing pains for a couple years after transitioning to the highest level of youth competition.
But the team’s potential was always noticeable, and as seniors this group is attempting to make a run at a state tournament berth.
“It’s been like family it seems like,” Otto said. “We’ve just been able to adapt to new things, always able to pick each other up.”
Keller said playing with this team is easy because everyone knows one another’s next move—how they throw the ball, hit the ball and what they’ll do in certain situations.
That chemistry, along with the feeling that every senior on the roster in some way portrays a leadership role, is what makes this Orioles team soar.
“It’s a well-oiled machine is what it is, really,” Keller said.
Foltz said this is a team that leads by example.
“It’s almost more the atmosphere and the work ethic,” Foltz said. “The sophomores see that and the juniors see that. They want to imitate that.”
McEachran said he has mixed feelings about seeing this group of seniors leave the program.
While it’s tough to see them go, he said he knows the group will come back to the community, help out the St. Louis Park baseball program, and do great things both on and off the baseball field.
“I can’t wait to see the next four years for these guys,” McEachran said. “They’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Orioles Begin Playoff Push Today
What: Section 6AAA first-round game between St. Louis Park and Wayzata (5-11)
When: 4:30 p.m.
What's Next: If the Orioles win, they'll face Hopkins on Friday in the section quarterfinals