Legion Baseball: Woodbury, East Ridge advance in winner's bracket
BURNSVILLE — It was two completely opposite games for East Ridge and Woodbury on Wednesday night, but ended with the same result.
A win for each team.
For Woodbury, the Royals got on the scoreboard early and often and had to hold onto that lead towards the end. For East Ridge, the Raptors faced a deficit and had to be patient with their comeback.
"It's always nice getting the first win out of the way," said Woodbury's starting pitcher Adam Mazur. "Now, we have some confidence heading into the next couple of games."
The two starting pitchers for each team came out firing and did exactly what the coaches were hoping for in the end. Mazur pitched three and two-thirds innings with seven strikeouts. He would've pitched more, but Woodbury coach Josh Sharp wanted to keep him under pitch count so he could pitch again sooner rather than later.
East Ridge had Evan Molin on the mound and he pitched a complete seven-inning game. He had a rocky first inning giving up a couple of doubles and a run to Burnsville, but was locked in after that inning. He struck out four batters, while allowing only three hits all game.
"I just had to focus after that first inning and then I felt good," Molin said. "I was able to mix my fastball with some off speed and it worked well tonight."
The Raptors were down 1-0 after the first inning, but waited until the fourth and fifth inning to change that lead. Tanner Stafne, Noah Thomas and Ryan Parker each earned RBI's in the game and East Ridge came out with the 4-1 win.
Thomas as well as Ryan Thelen went 2-for-3 in the game, which helped create and maintain that lead for East Ridge.
"Evan was great tonight on the mound and really helped us capture this first win," said Aaron Rau, East Ridge's coach. "We were great both on defense and offense, so hopefully this continues into the next few days."
On the other hand, Woodbury scored three runs in the first inning thanks to some solid hitting from every batter in the lineup. Brock Rinehart, Riley Frisk, Josh Davis and Tucker Rinehart each earned an RBI in the game.
The Royals made it a 5-0 game after the fifth inning, but Rosemount made a small comeback in the sixth inning to make it 5-3. That's all Woodbury would allow and the game ended in a final score of 5-3.
"It was great to see every batter having great at-bats," Sharp said. "This was also a perfect night for pitching for us because we're limited in players this weekend."
On Wednesday night, Woodbury played with nine players and zero backups. The Royals will be facing a limited amount of players this weekend, which means Sharp has to be strategic with pitching and making sure he has enough pitchers for each game.
The fact he was able to keep Mazur under 60 pitches and Davis was able to pitch a couple great innings, Sharp was happy with how everything ended.
Since Woodbury and East Ridge advanced in the winner's bracket, they will both play at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night. The Royals will play on field one and the Raptors will play on field two at Alimagnet Park.
Woodbury will play the No. 1 seed Apple Valley, while East Ridge takes on the No. 2 seed Farmington. The Royals and Raptors were the lower seeds in the first game and came out with the win, so they understand what it's like, but it doesn't bother them.
"It'll be a challenge tomorrow, but we're ready for it," Molin said.
"You just need to take one game at a time," Mazur said. "There's a different mentality in the playoffs and hopefully we can play our best baseball throughout this weekend."