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Legion Baseball: Woodbury, East Ridge prepare for sub-state playoffs

Brock Rinehart remembered playing in the sub-state playoffs last year for Woodbury. He knows the difficulty of every team, but is confident that the Royals could make a run. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
Ryan Thelen will hope to help East Ridge make a run in the sub-state playoffs this week and weekend for a chance to play in the state tournament. Brian Mozey / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

Four wins.

It sounds simple, but it's going to be a fight to the end.

"This tournament is one of the toughest to play in because everyone knows what's on the line," said Ryan Scanlon, a coach for the Woodbury legion team. "We just need to keep fighting until the last out."

That tournament is the sub-state playoffs for legion baseball. Woodbury and East Ridge will be playing on Wednesday afternoon to start an extended weekend of baseball for a chance to reach the state tournament.

St. Paul Park's season came to an end on Monday night as the team lost to Lakeville North in the play-in game to continue in the sub-state playoffs.

These playoffs aren't just memories for the players, but also the coaches too.

"A lot of the former players remember legion playoffs and the road to the state tournament," said Aaron Rau, East Ridge's coach. "I feel like this tournament isn't going to be easy and we will need to play our best baseball from the beginning."

East Ridge will be the No. 6 seed and will play the No. 3 seed Burnsville on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Alimagnet Park Field 2 in Burnsville, Minnesota.

Woodbury will be the No. 5 seed and will face the No. 4 seed Rosemount on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. as well, but the Royals will be playing at Alimagnet Park Field 1.

The sub-state playoffs is a double elimination bracket, so teams will have to lose twice before they're eliminated from the tournament and conclude their seasons.

The teams will play each day regardless if they win or lose until the championship game on Sunday, July 29.

"I remember playing in these playoffs last season and it was a great weekend of baseball," said Brock Rinehart. "Every team comes out with their best, so you need to match it and play hard to stay alive."

Both Scanlon and Rau are excited to see their teams play and have a mentality of win or go home. The last part of the regular season has been a little bit relaxed and just preparing for these playoffs, but Rau doesn't think that's a bad thing.

"We still want the players to be relaxed and not think too much into these games," Rau said. "We want them to have fun and if they do, it'll translate into what they do on the field."

Rau said he's happy with where the players are at to end the regular season. He knows these players are confident and ready to battle hard to stay in these playoffs.

Scanlon used Monday's game against New Prague as an opportunity to see different players at different positions. Woodbury will be facing a smaller team with only nine or 10 players on the roster.

Since the team will be smaller, Scanlon wanted to make sure these players were able to feel comfortable at a position they weren't used to or haven't played all season long.

He was happy with the results of that experiment on Monday and is looking forward to having these players make some sacrifices regarding positions to allow the Royals a chance to win.

Woodbury switched things up so much that Tucker Rinehart went from the catching position to on the mound and pitching. He hasn't been on the mound in a few years, but was excited to get his opportunity.

Tucker Rinehart made the most of it and pitched a scoreless inning in the seventh to not only capture the win, but also record the save for the game.

"It was fun to be able to catch my brother (Brock Rinehart) in the beginning of the game and see the two of us switch in the last inning," Tucker Rinehart said. "It was fun to get back on the mound and be able to throw."

Scanlon hopes these players have fun at these playoffs and understand that with each game, the competition will only get better and better.

"The legion playoff season was one of my favorite memories as a Woodbury Royal," Scanlon said. "I'm just excited to see how our players compete in this upcoming weekend."

Brian Mozey

I am the sports writer for the Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin. I'm a graduate from the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University and have always had a passion for sports since a young age. Whether it was watching or playing sports, I always knew sports would be in my career. I've been born and raised in the suburbs of Minneapolis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the Woodbury and Cottage Grove area throughout my time in this position. 

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