American Legion
Minnesota Division I
State Tournament

GAZETTE

 

 


Volume 12, No. 4 Burnsville, Minnesota Sunday, August 10, 2008

Three E's remain in tourney
Three teams have survived the first three days of the Minnesota American Legion Division I State Tournament in Burnsville.

Eastview emerged as the sole unbeaten team. Edina will take on Eden Prairie in the first game Sunday at 12:30 pm. at Alimagnet Park, Rich VanderLaan Field. The winner of that game will take on Eastview at 3:30 for the state champiionship.

Eastview now qualifies for National Regional play, having singled Edina to death in the winners' bracket final on Saturday night. The Thunder had 23 hits, all singles, to defeat Edina 22-10 and advance to the state championship game at 3:30 Sunday at Alimagnet Park.
Catcher Joe Peters, who led Eastview's attack with four hits and four RBI in five at-bats, said, "Our seniors have been together since we were 9 years old, and we have bonded well as a team this year."

The Eastview boys had won seven youth baseball titles leading up to this year, but now they are going after the biggest prize, the state Legion title.

This is only Eastview's second season as an American Legion team.

The winner of the early game will also qualify as one of the two
teams Minnesota will advance to the National Regionals, which will be held in Minot, North Dakota (Central Plains Regional), and Chillicothe, Ohio (Great Lakes Regional), beginning August 14th.

The American Legion World Seriew will begin August 22nd in Shelby, North Carolina.

At Sacred Heart, in the the Division II State Tournament, Jordan topped Staples-Motley 7-1 and LaCrescent beat Ely 5-4. Jordan and LaCrescent will play Sunday for the Division II title.
Eden Prairie ace is ready for Sunday

By John Sherman
Five minutes after his team defeated the Rochester Patriots 9-1 Saturday afternoon at Alimagnet Park, Eden Prairie Legion coach Scott Hackett was ready to announce his pitching choice for the 12:30 p.m. elimination game Sunday.

Madison Boer will get the call, and that’s no surprise. Boer has been down this road before and knows what it takes to pitch in a big game.

“I’d have to pry the ball out of Madison’s hands at this point,” said Hackett. “He has been our No. 1 guy all year and he has pitched a lot of big games. Even when he’s off, he keeps us in the game.”

Boer was pleased to hear that he would be on the mound for the first game on Sunday. The championship game will follow at 3:30 p.m., but Eden Prairie has to win the 12:30 game to assure itself a regional berth.

“We’re going for No. 5,” said Boer, referring to Eden Prairie’s string of four consecutive state Legion Baseball titles. “I am happy to get the start. The last couple of times out, I have been able to throw all four pitches for strikes.”
Boer has an overpowering fastball and also throws a curve, a slider and a straight changeup.
“I am throwing a changeup for the first time this year, and I have kind of fallen in love with it,” he said.

Boer, who also plays first base, has a partial scholarship to play baseball at the University of Oregon next season. “I always wanted to go to a good college program and play for a good coach,” he said.

In Oregon’s case that good coach is George Horton, who recently left Cal State-Fullerton to take the job with the Ducks.

Before he bears down on college hitters, Boer has one last thing to accomplish as a high school player --- winning the Legion World Series title.

“Playing in the World Series last year was the best experience of my baseball career,” he said. “We got to town and went right from the hotel to the parade. It was very exciting to play at that level and see all the other regional champions. We ended up taking second.”
It looked like a return to the Legion World Series would be a longshot when Eden Prairie lost 12-9 to Grand Rapids in the first round of the State Tournament earlier this week, but the defending state champs were able to right the ship. They won the next five games: 25-11 over Moorhead, 9-3 over New Ulm Gold, 18-8 over the Apple Valley 76ers, 10-8 over the St. Cloud 76ers and 9-1 over the Rochester Patriots.

“After we lost to Grand Rapids, I told our guys we had to turn the page and move on,” said Hackett. “The boys are hitting the ball well and our pitching staff has stepped up. Andrew Richter gave us a good performance against Apple Valley yesterday and Tim Bado came through against St. Cloud today.

“Our upperclassmen have made my job a lot easier this year,” Hackett continued. “Scott Lindner, our shortstop in a real battler. It seems like anytime a team counterattacks against us, we are able to answer.”

Eden Prairie pounded 17 hits in the win over the Rochester Patriots Saturday, including three each from Lindner and Joe Wentzel.
If that happens again on Sunday, Eden Prairie (43-9-1) could find itself on the way to another World Series.


Madison Boer is ready to go in the
first game today.

Burnsville founder still a fan
By John Sherman



Burnsville baseball founder, Bob Halko,
still comes back as a fan.

Twenty-seven years ago, Bob Halko brought American Legion Baseball to Burnsville, and although the program is thriving now, that wasn’t always the case.

“It was a struggle financially at first,” he recalled as he watched the State Legion Tournament at Alimagnet Park Saturday afternoon. “The post was small at the time and we had to find funding wherever we could. It was pretty lean and I remember that we sold lawn bags to raise the money we needed for the first couple seasons.”

Once Burnsville Legion Post 1700 started to increase membership, the finances improved. Then, Halko and others started the non-profit corporation that now funds Legion Baseball in the community.

“What you see here at Alimagnet Park came as

a result of the pull-tab operation at the post,” Halko noted. “The lights and the stands were partially paid for with pull-tab money.”

Now 79 years old and living most of the year in Naples, Fla., Halko said he enjoys coming back to Burnsville to watch Legion baseball every summer.

“I can’t get enough of it,” he said. “You really can’t beat outdoor baseball.”

Halko gave his stamp of approval to the efforts of Burnsville’s host committee.

“It’s a big job; I know that,” he said. “You need so many volunteers to make it work. It looks like they have done a very nice job with the tournament, and there have been some very exciting games. I noticed that the scores are getting a lot closer later in the tournament.”

Stats of the Day
Through Saturday, August 9, 2008:
Batting Average
1. Jeremy Hericks, Eden Prairie, .647
2. Jordan Smith, Willmar, .643
3. Erik Nelson, Edina, .611
3. Brandon Peterson, Apple Valley, .611
5. Mike Dunham, Willmar, .563
6. Jordan Rishavy, Rochester Patriots, .529
7. Andy Bartz, Edina, .526
8. Nick Schneider, North St. Paul, .522
9. Scott Lindner, Eden Prairie, .516
10. Troy Larson, North St. Paul, .500

Runs Scored
1. Lucas Skjefte, Eden Prairie, 13
2. Scott Lindner, Eden Prairie, 11
3. Nathan Laudenbach, St. Cloud, 10
3. Patrick Coyne, Eastview, 10
3. Jeremy Hericks, Eden Prairie, 10
6. 8 tied at 9

Hits
1. Scott Lindner, Eden Prairie, 16
2. Joseph Wentzel, Eden Prairie, 13
3. Lucas Skjefte, Eden Prairie, 12
3. Matt Halloran, Eden Prairie, 12
3. Dan Fagerhaug, Eden Prairie, 12
3. Spencer Brady, Rochester Patriots, 12
3. Troy Larson, North St. Paul, 12
3. Nick Schneider, North St. Paul, 12
9. 3 tied at 11

Runs Batted in
1. Scott Lindner, Eden Prairie, 14
2. Lucas Skjefte, Eden Prairie, 10
3. Zach Ryberg, Eastview, 9
3. Matt Puhl, North St. Paul, 9
3. Nick Schneider, North St. Paul, 9
3. Nick Gorski, Eastview, 9
3. Matt Halloran, Eden Prairie, 9
3. Jeremy Hericks, Eden Prairie, 9
9. 4 tied at 8

Home runs
1. Nathan Laudenbach, St. Cloud, 4
2. Scott Lindner, Eden Prairie, 2
2. Madison Boer, Eden Prairie, 2
2. Matt Puhl, North St. Paul, 2
2. Brian Ness, Rochester Patriots, 2
2. Matt Halloran, Eden Prairie, 2
2. Collin Stinogel, St. Cloud, 2
8. 16 tied at 1

Earned Run Average
1. Colte Hinz, Richfield, 2.57
2. George Jensen, Eastview, 3.86
3. David Anderson, Willmar, 4.50
4. John Wenker, Maple Grove, 5.87
5. Dylan Olson, Richfield, 6.43
6. John Skrbec, Grand Rapids, 7.56
7. Dallas Nelson, Cambridge, 7.94
8. Lucas Vossen, Cold Spring
9. Wade French, New Ulm Gold, 9.72
10. Kyle Fischer, New Ulm Gold, 10.00

Batters Struck Out
1. George Jensen, Eastview, 15
2. John Skrbec, Grand Rapids, 13
3. Anders Engberg, Burnsville, 12
4. Nicholas Dolsky, Eastview, 11
5. Timothy Bado, Eden Prairie, 10
6. Jordan Smith, Willmar, 9
6. Collin Stinogel, St. Cloud, 9
6. William Shaw, Grand Rapids, 9
9. Conner Stremke, Eden Prairie, 8

Host committee takes risk, then hits a home run
by John Sherman

Ken Slipka, chairman of the host committee for the State American Legion Baseball Tournament, knew that Burnsville was taking a chance when it threw its hat in the ring.

“The financial risk was in the back of all of our heads,” he said Saturday as he watched a ballgame at Alimagnet Park. “Early on I knew we had to get help with fundraising.”

That help came in the person of Steve Saefke, a member of the committee. It was Saefke who brought Dodge of Burnsville on board as a sponsor. And then, Gary Hohman, a former University of Minnesota baseball player, who represents 100 Dodge dealers, got on the bandwagon.

New Dodges were parked along the path at Alimagnet Park this week, and you could say, Dodge has emerged as a driving force in the success of the tourney.

“It’s good to have Dodge with us,” said Saefke. “They have been very good to us and John Adamich of Dodge of Burnsville really helped.”

Rich VanderLaan, a Legion member for 42 years and a member of the planning committee said, “A lot goes on behind the scenes in a tournament like this. We worked hard with the vendors to make it profitable for them and profitable for us.”

One of the prominent vendors at the park, Varsity Photo, took all of the team photos for the tournament and has action photos for sale from each game.

VanderLaan said, “We are excited as can be with the venue, the size of the crowds and the cooperation we have received from the state Legion folks. As a community, we have tried to present our best face. Our mayor, Elizabeth Kautz, has been at several games and threw out the first pitch twice. She was ecstatic to see the energy level and electricity of the tournament.”

“The most important thing for us is that the kids have a good time,” said Saefke. “I was very impressed to see that some of the Legion ballplayers went up to the head table after the banquet and personally thanked John Adamich [the sponsor from Dodge of Burnsville].”

Planning committee member Ed Delmoro organized the tournament banquet along with Ruthie VanderLaan, Rich’s wife.

“The best thing about the banquet for me was when I looked out and saw the smiling faces of 300 kids,” he said.

Kip Peterson organized concessions for the planning committee. The fans went through hundreds of pounds of grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, not to mention many bottles of pop and cases of ice cream.

“A tournament like this should be all about the kids,” said Peterson. “Legion Baseball is a great program, and this level of play is the toughest in the state. What impresses me is seeing the Legion players grow as good citizens. There is a lot of bad press for youth these days. But you don’t see it here. A lot of our former players come back a few years later. They are so polite, so successful.”

All in all, the local planning committee, which also includes Don Bowyer, Alan Spillers, Bill Streff and Neal Jeppson, agreed the experience of hosting a State Legion Tournament was two things: 1. A lot of work and 2. A lot of fun. The fun made all the work worthwhile.

State American Legion Baseball Director Darwin Berg was very appreciative of the host committee’s efforts.

“It is a pleasure to work with them,” he said. “They are very accommodating and they have done an outstanding job of serving the State Baseball Committee’s needs.”

The Good Ol' Boys of Summer:
Burnsville's host committee for the State Legion Baseball Tournament includes, from left, Ken Slipka, Steve Saefke, Rich VanderLaan, Kip Peterson, Bill Streff, and Ed Delmoro. Not pictured: Neal Jeppson, Alan Spillers and Don Bowyer.

Excelsior will host 2009 National Regional
Jim Peck is finishing his 45th year as a youth baseball volunteer, and he’s not done yet.

The Excelsior American Legion general manager spearheaded the effort to get Excelsior the bid for the 2009 Central Plains Region Tournament. It will be held at Minnetonka’s artificial-turf Veterans Field, located at Minnetonka High School.

This is the third time Peck has coordinated a Legion regional. The other years he hosted were 1991 and 1997.

“We have a topnotch facility, a lot of great volunteers and a
quality hotel, the Marriott in Minnetonka,” said Peck. To host the 2009 regional, the Excelsior Post had to come up with a $15,000 bid.

“I estimate our other expenses at about $20,000,” said Peck. “One of the biggest expenses for the host committee is ground transportation. We plan to provide two 15-passenger vans per team.”

Peck said the regional will feature state American Legion Baseball champs from Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Nebraska, North
Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin in addition to the host team from Excelsior.

Excelsior hosted the State Legion Tournament in 2006, and Peck said that was a bigger undertaking than the regional. “In the State Tournament, you have twice as many games, 16, and you have four fields to manage the first day.

“We are just starting to look for sponsors for the ’09 regional,” said Peck. “We have lined up Dick Jonckowski as the banquet emcee and announcer, and Ron Coomer, the former Twin, will be the keynote speaker at our banquet.”


Game Summaries, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2008

Game 25
Eden Prairie 10, St. Cloud 76ers 8
The unranked St. Cloud 76ers gave Eden Prairie a competitive run, before bowing out of the State Tournament Saturday morning at Alimagnet Park. St. Cloud made the game interesting with a five-run seventh inning that cut Eden Prairie's lead to 10-8. Jeremy Hericks and Scott Lindner homered for Eden Prairie, and Nathan Laudenbach of St. Cloud countered with a homer. Lindner went four-for-four with four RBI. Catcher, Matt Halloran, had three hits for Eden Prairie. Laudenbach and Kellen Euerle had two hits each for the 76ers. Caleb Phillips pitched the first five innings to get the win on the mound for Eden Prairie, and Conner Stremke was credited with a save.

Eden Prairie     3 0 1   1 3 0   2 0 0       10   14   1  
St. Cloud 76ers     0 1 0   0 2 0   5 0 0       8   10   1  

Phillips, Lintner (6), Willey (7), Stremke (8) and Halloran. Spengler, Laudenbach (5) and Blitvich. WP Phillips. LP Spengler. Home runs: Laudenbach, St. Cloud; Lindner, Eden Prairie; Hericks, Eden Prairie.


Game 26
Rochester Patriots 5, North St. Paul 4

The Rochester Patriots came from behind in the eighth inning to defeat North St. Paul 5-4 in an elimination game at Alimagnet Park in Burnsville. Catcher, Bryce Odegarden, drove in the tying run on a single to left, and then the ball skipped past North St. Paul's left fielder, allowing the go-ahead run to cross the plate. Jordan Rishavy and Brian Anderson also had RBIs for the Patriots. The player of the game was center fielder Nick Schneider of North St. Paul, who went four-for-four with two singles, a double and a triple. Anderson went 7 and 1/3 innings to get the pitching win for Rochester. Andrew Roble got credit for a save, as Rochester boosted its season record to 35-12. North St. Paul finished 29-11 overall.

Rochester Patriots     2 0 1   0 0 0   0 2 0     5   9   1
North St. Paul     0 1 0   1 1 1   0 0 0     4   9   4

Anderson, Roble (8) and Odegarden. Lindberg, Gunderson (8) and Rubbelke. WP Anderson. LP Lindberg.


Game 27
Eden Prairie 9, Rochester Patriots 1
Tim Bado's pitching helped Eden Prairie stay alive in the State Legion Tournament with a decisive win over the Rochester Patriots Saturday afternoon at Alimagnet Park. Joe Wentzel and Matt Halloran each had three hits for the winners, while Matt Halloran had a home run and three RBI. Lead-off man, Lucas Skjefte scored three runs for EP, which improved to 43-9-1 on the season. Jordan Rishavy had two hits for the Rochester Patriots, who finished the season with a 35-13 record.

Eden Prairie     3 0 0   0 3 0   0 1 1     9   17   1  
Rochester Patriots     0 0 1   0 0 0   0 0 0     1   5   3  

Bado, Stremke (8) and Halloran. Roble, Long (5), Gwaltney (9) and Nelson. WP Bado. LP Roble. Home runs: Halloran, Eden Prairie.


Game 28
Eastview 22, Edina 10
Eastview had 23 hits, all singles, in a victory over Edina in the winners' bracket final Saturday night at Alimagnet Park. Catcher, Joe Peters, led the Eastview attack, going four-for-five, with four RBI. Erik Klefsaas, Ben Wagner, Patrick O'Neill, and Ty Groskreutz each had three hits. Andy Bartz and Vince Williams each had three hits for Edina.

Eastview     2 2 0   8 0 0   1 0 9     22   23   1    
Edina     0 0 1   1 2 0   9 3 3     10   15   6    

Wobschall, Barry (7) and Peters. Dean, Wikoff (4), Todd (4), Newman (9), Williams (9) and E. Nelson. WP Wobschall. LP Dean.

Game Summaries, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2008

Eastview and Eden Prairie will be Minnesota's representatives in national regional play, following action Sunday in the Minnesota American Legion State Division I Baseball Tournament in Burnsville.

Game 29
- SEMI-FINAL GAME (Losers' final)
Eden Prairie 17, Edina 9

Edina led Eden Prairie 6-2 after five innings Sunday afternoon at Alimagnet Park. However, Eden Prairie scored 15 runs over the last four innings to clinch its fifth consecutive Legion Baseball regional berth. Tim Miller of Eden Prairie had a hot day at the plate, going three-for-five with an RBI. Shortstop Scott Lindner hit a home run and drove in four runs for the winners. Edina’s starting pitcher, Cole Nelson, hit a home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. He went two-for-three with a walk. Edina shortstop Andrew Fink went four-for-six and scored a pair of runs. Erik Nelson finished the State Tournament with a .545 batting average for Edina and Fink batted .519. The victory was Eden Prairie’s 44th of the season against nine losses and a tie. Edina, coached by John Peterson, bowed out with a season record of 22-17. Edina had its highest state finish since winning the title in 1983. “It was a fun ride,” said Peterson, whose team received the third-place trophy. “I just wish we could have won one more. The two losses we had here [Eastview and Eden Prairie] were against two real good teams. Today, we knew Eden Prairie wasn’t going to roll over and play dead when we had that 6-2 lead. I tip my cap to them. It was a tremendous experience for our team to play in a first-class tournament like this.”

Eden Prairie   2 0 0   0 0 3   5 0 7     17   19   3    
Edina   0 0 4   0 2 0   0 2 1     9   12   5    

Boer, T. Miller (5), Stremke (8), Lintner (9) and Halloran. C. Nelson, Smith (7), E. Nelson (9) and E. Nelson, Scheckinger (9). Home runs: Lindner, Eden Prairie; C. Nelson, Edina.


Game 30 - CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Eastview 16, Eden Prairie 6 (8 innings)

Eastview ended Eden Prairie’s streak of four consecutive State Division I American Legion Baseball titles Sunday afternoon at Alimagnet Park. Eastview, which finished 5-0 in the tournament, pounced on Eden Prairie’s pitching for 20 hits. Lead-off batter Erik Klefsaas had four of those hits and scored three runs. Pat O’Neill also had a productive day at the plate with two hits and three RBI. Pat Coyne added three hits and four RBI. Eastview (32-8) split the pitching between Blake Hagen, who went the first five innings, and George Jensen, who threw the last three. Hagen was credited with the win. Eastview finished 11-0 in the playoffs with six wins prior to State and five more at State. This is only the second year Eastview has fielded an American Legion Baseball team. “It’s a great thing to play at the highest level,” said Eastview catcher Joe Peters. Bob Klefsaas, who has coached the Eastview seniors since they were 9 years old, said, “The boys know what it takes to win. This is the eighth state championship they have won. We’ve been blessed with some great kids.”

Eastview   4 1 4   0 3 0   2 2     16   20   1
Eden Prairie   0 2 0   0 0 0   4 0     6   8   3

Hagen, Jensen (6) and Wagner, Peters (7). Richter, Willey (2), Lintner (5), Gotham (6) and Halloran. WP Hagen. LP Richter.


Additional Issues:

2008 Tournament Home Page
The Gazette, Thursday, August 7, 2008
The Gazette, Friday, August 8, 2008 (Thursday's Action)
The Gazette, Saturday, August 9, 2008 (Friday's Action)

 


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