Legion Baseball: Woodbury, East Ridge stay alive in playoffs
BURNSVILLE — The number of teams are starting to shrink and East Ridge and Woodbury are still a part of the legion playoff tournament.
Woodbury went 2-0 over the last couple of days to place themselves in the championship game on Sunday morning in the winner's bracket.
East Ridge has gone 1-1 over the past couple days and the journey to the championship game is a little bit more difficult, but certainly not impossible.
"These guys have had the perfect mentality coming into these game," said Aaron Rau, East Ridge's coach. "They play their game of baseball and it's shown on the field."
The Woodbury Royals defeated the No. 1 seed Apple Valley on Thursday night with a 6-1 final score and took the win against the No. 2 seed Farmington on Friday night with a 2-1 final score. Those two wins allow the Royals to have the day off on Saturday before preparing for the championship game on Sunday.
Before the Friday night game, the entire Woodbury team was singing to Knee Deep by the Zac Brown Band while it rang throughout the park. During the game, the Royals were down 1-0 for the majority of the game, but they had no worries in the world because they knew something was going to happen.
In the seventh, Farmington switched pitchers and that's all the Royals needed to make their move.
With two straight outs to start the seventh inning, Brock Rinehart was the last hope for Woodbury. He connected on a double and brought Jack Horman up to tie the game.
Horman did just that with a single that brought Rinehart home and also allowed Horman to advance to second on the throw to home.
Then, Cameron Matz came out onto the on-deck circle to be a pinch hitter. He came up with a big at-bat smacking a single to the outfield and scoring Horman from second to take a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh.
That's all Quinn Krueger needed to earn the complete game victory for the Royals. On top of the complete game, Krueger struck out 11 batters on Friday night.
"I knew the bats would come sometime in the game," Krueger said. "I just had to be patient and do my part on the job."
Woodbury's coach Josh Sharp said it was a perfect couple of days because he only had to use two pitchers in two games. The Royals have a short bench with only nine or 10 players at each game, so the ability to have Saturday off and have all his pitchers available on Sunday is huge.
East Ridge will have to battle and fight for a spot in the championship game and it all starts on Saturday afternoon. The Raptors lost to Farmington on Thursday night with a 9-4 final score.
That loss made the mindset become win or go home, which the Raptors took fully on Friday night against Lakeville North.
East Ridge allowed three runs in the first inning to Lakeville North, but the Raptors came out with all their bats in the bottom of the first. They tacked on six runs to get the lead back in part to every hitter in the lineup.
"We weren't going to give up and with the way our bats have been going this tournament," Rau said. "I wasn't worried."
Out of the nine players on the lineup card, seven of them earned at least one RBI in the game on Friday night. It was a team effort from each player.
That lead was given back to Lakeville North in the top of the second when they scored four runs and had a 7-6 lead. The Raptors made sure to get the lead back in the bottom of the second as they scored three runs.
After that inning, East Ridge never gave the lead back thanks in part to the pitching from Lincoln Sanneman. He became the pitcher in the third inning and pitched the last five innings.
Sanneman gave up one run with five hits and struck out one to help the Raptors continue their season and play on Saturday.
"I had a great defense behind me to turn some big plays into outs," Sanneman said. "I'm just glad I was able to help this team continue in the playoffs."
The Raptors will play Apple Valley at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. If they win that game, they will play Farmington at 6 p.m. on Saturday night for a spot in the championship game.
The team that wins the 6 p.m. game on Saturday will play Woodbury in the championship game at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. The Royals only need to win once, but the other team will need to win twice in a row to claim the title.
The second game for the championship is scheduled at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday if needed. The winner of the championship will play the following weekend, August 2-5, at the state tournament in Edina, Minnesota.
"We just have to keep pushing hard and not letting up," Sharp said. "We'll be playing a good team no matter what on Sunday, so we need to be fully prepared to play hard for that championship."