Tri-City Red makes run at Legion baseball state berth

Heat and rain conspired to the derail the Sub-State 8 American Legion baseball playoffs last week. Those two forces of nature wiped out two days of the tournament and forced the event to last until Monday.

As of press time for this edition of the Bulletin, Tri-City Red was one of three teams in contention for the sub-state title and the berth in the state tournament that goes with it.

Forest Lake and Stillwater were also still alive in the sub-state tournament as of Monday morning.

Tri-City Red was the No. 2 seed and opened the tournament on July 19 with a 15-2, seven-inning victory over seventh-seeded White Bear.

In round two, Tri-City matched up against third-seeded Forest Lake at CHS Field and the two teams went toe-to-toe. Tri-City Red pulled out a 10-8 victory thanks to a six-run eighth inning.

Entering that eighth inning, Tri-City trailed by four runs after giving up five to Forest Lake in the seventh. In the eighth, Tri-City responded by sending 10 batters to the plate.

Justin Langer got things started by drawing a walk to lead off the frame. Drake Gran then reached base on a fielder’s choice but was forced out at second when Holden Schmidt grounded back to the pitcher.

With Langer and Schmidt on base, Drew Gran drove a ball deep to the outfield for a two-run double and the comeback was on. Riley Flanagan followed with a base hit that moved Drew Gran to third, and after a flyout, Jeff LeMay singled to score Gran.

Bo Lovdahl singled to keep the inning going and when the Forest Lake shortstop couldn’t handle Nick Lovdahl’s sharp shot, LeMay and Bo Lovdahl came across to close out the scoring in the inning and the game.

Armed with a two-run lead, Ryan Nickel took the mound in the ninth and closed out the game to earn the save.

Forest Lake had taken the lead in the seventh inning by sending 11 batters to the plate. Two hit batters, two walks and four hits led to five runs and put Forest Lake ahead 8-4.

Tri-City opened the scoring in the bottom of the first on a two-run single by Langer and Forest Lake answered with two runs in the top of the third.

Red went back in front in the bottom of the third when LeMay led off with a single, moved up on Bo Lovdahl’s base hit and scored on Nick Lovdahl’s single.

In the fourth, Drew Gran led off with a double and LeMay drove in a courtesy runner with a two-out double. Forest Lake got one run back in the top of the sixth.

With the victory, Tri-City Red advanced to meet top-seeded Stillwater in a game on July 21 but that game was postponed a day because of the high heat indexes that engulfed the state. Tri-City and Stillwater ended up meeting in the final game of the day on July 22 and put together quite a pitcher’s duel.

Matt Laursen of Tri-City Red and Thomas Bruchu of Stillwater combined to pitch 18 scoreless innings. Bruchu went all 10 for Stillwater, which pulled out a 1-0, extra-inning victory.

Stillwater won it in the bottom of the 10th with three hits and an intentional walk. Nickel, who relieved Laursen in the ninth, got a strikeout to begin the 10th but then Stillwater put runners on first and third with back-to-back base hits. Following the intentional walk, Trevor Eder-Zdechlik delivered the winning base hit to left field.

Laursen gave up 11 hits in eight innings. He walked only one and struck out six. Bruchu struck out a dozen, walked four and gave up three hits.

The loss dropped Tri-City Red into a losers-bracket game against fourth-seeded Lino Lakes on July 24. Tri-City avoided elimination by taking down Lino Lakes 7-4.

Stillwater followed up its victory over Tri-City Red by losing 5-0 to Forest Lake. With the way the tournament bracket was set up, Forest Lake and Tri-City Red met on July 25 and the winner faced Stillwater later that same day for the sub-state title.

The state tournament starts on Friday in Delano, Loretto and Maple Lake. The host team Delano and 15 sub-state champions embark on a four-day journey through a double-elimination bracket to determine the state champion and the runner-up, both of which advance to the Central Regional in Bismarck, North Dakota, starting on Aug. 3.

The American Legion World Series is once again being played in Shelby, North Carolina, starting on Aug. 11.

 

Tri-City Maroon

Tri-City Maroon entered the Sub-State 8 tournament as the sixth seed and couldn’t come up with a victory. Maroon went 0-2 and saw its season come to an end.

Tri-City opened the tournament on July 19 with a game at CHS Field against third-seeded Forest Lake. Maroon dropped into the losers bracket when it fell 10-4 to Forest Lake.

In the first round of losers-bracket play on July 20, Tri-City matched up against seventh-seeded White Bear, a team Maroon beat twice in the regular season. The old mantra that says it’s difficult to beat a team three times in a season came into play as White Bear avoided a third loss to Maroon by winning 13-6.

White Bear followed up its win over Maroon by taking on Lino Lakes in what turned out to be a wild and wooly contest. Lino Lakes led by six runs after seven innings but White Bear rallied to tie it in the top of the ninth. Lino Lakes then won it with a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the ninth.

 

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

2016 Minnesota American Legion state baseball tournament

July 29-Aug. 1 at Delano, Loretto and Maple Lake

 

Participating teams (Sub-State seed in parentheses)

Sub-State 1 — Rochester Patriots (1) or Austin (2)

Sub-State 2 — Fairmont (6)

Sub-State 3 — Shakopee (1) or Edina (3)

Sub-State 4 — Wayzata (1) or Hopkins (3)

Sub-State 5 — Woodbury Blue (1) or Burnsville (3)

Sub-State 6 — Eastview (3)

Sub-State 7 — Hamline Purple (2)

Sub-State 8 — Stillwater (1), Tri-City Red (2)
or Forest Lake (3)

Sub-State 9 — Champlin Park (1) or Ham Lake (7)

Sub-State 10 — Grand Rapids (1)

Sub-State 11 — Maple Grove (1) or Elk River (3) 

Sub-State 12 — Little Falls (3)

Sub-State 13 — Buffalo (2)

Sub-State 14 — Bemidji (2)

Sub-State 15 — Waconia (1)

Host team — Delano (5)

 

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