American Legion
Minnesota Division I
State Tournament






Volume 7, No. 3 Rochester, Minnesota Saturday, August 9, 2003

Six Teams Left to Vie for 2003 State Title Friday's Heros

Only six teams remain in this year's running for the state champion of the Minnesota American Legion Division I tournament.

Some are perennial favorites, and some are surprises, and two are hometown favorites.

The Rochester A's and Bloomington Blue kept on advancing through the winner's bracket, and are the only two undefeated teams as the tourney enters its third day.

The A's defeated Cold Spring 6-3 and Bloomington edged New Ulm 8-7 in winners'-bracket play.

Excelsior, at the top of the Legion standings throughout the year, won two loser-bracket games today, 8-7 over Lakeville and 12-3 over Bemidji, to remain in the double-elimination tournament.

Rochester Redhawks defeated Eden Prairie 13-6, and then came from behind to top East Grand Forks 9-8 in a tournament day packed with close games.

Lakeville, Bemidji, Eden Prairie, East Grand Forks, Apple Valley and Tri-City Red all were eliminated from the tournament.

Friday's action sets the table for Saturday's games including a clash of the loser-bracket titans, Excelsior and New Ulm. The Tonka Fire Club has had to fight its way through the loser's bracket, while New Ulm losst its first game on Friday afternoon. The two will play at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

In the other loser's bracket game at 1 p.m., the surprising Redhawks, the "other" team from Rochester, will take on Cold Spring, which dropped out of the winner's bracket on Friday night.

All games are at Mayo field.

The winner of those games will then face each other for the privilege of playing into Sunday's final two games. That game will be played at 4 p.m.

The day's action will be completed at 7 p.m. at Mayo when the undefeated powerhouses, Ropchester A's and Bloomington Blue, will play. The winner will be assured a berth in a national Regional American Legion tournament, either in New Ulm or Midland, Michigan.

The tournaments will get underway on August 14. The World Series, played the following week, will be held at Bartlesville, OK.

On Sunday, the semi-final game will be played at 11 a.m. The final will be played at 2 p.m. at Mayo Field.

There will b e no double-elimination in the final game, and the winner will be the state champion.

Because of the numnber of American Legion teams in Minnesota (354), the state is entitled to have two teams in the national Regionals. In 2002, Excelsior finished second in the nation.
Brylee Callender - Lakeville:
The right fielder reached base in all five of his plate appearances in a 12-5 victory over Apple Valley. He was two for two with four stolen bases and three runs scored.

Sean Kommerstad - Excelsior:
The veteran outfielder hit two homers, including the game-winner, as his team defeated Lakeville 8-7 in an elimination game.

Tom Senne - Rochester Redhawks: With two doubles and a home run, he led the Redhawks to a 13-6 victory over Eden Prairie.

Josh Kaiser - East Grand Forks:
His all-around play helped his team stay alive. He was the winning pitcher with six innings of solid relief and also drove in the winning run.

Zach Peterson - Excelsior:
Four strikeouts in the last three innings gave the relief pitcher an 8-7 win over Lakeville.

Rob Nelson -Bloomington Blue:
The designated hitter went four for five and hit a key double in the eighth inning.

Tim Gerlesberger - Rochester Redhawks:
His two-run homer tied the score in the bottom of the eighth against east Grand Forks, as the Redhawks went on to win 9-8.

Ted Garry - Rochester A's:
The left-hander struck out 10 in eight innings as the A's topped Cld Spring 6-3 in a winners'-bracket game.
Veterans Come Through for Fire Club by John Sherman  
Sean Kommerstad and Zach Peterson are two of the veterans who led Excelsior Legion to a runner-up spot in the World Series last summer.

They stepped up and delivered Friday afternoon as the fire Club defeated a tough Lakeville team in a state tournament elimination game at Century High School.

Kommerstad hit two opposite-field home runs to right center to account for three Fire Club runs in an 8-7 victory over Third district champion Lakeville. The second shot that Kommerstad hit was a high line drive that traveled an estimated 400 feet. There was no doubt when it left the bat that the ball was headed out of the park. It bounced on the grass and into the street far beyond the right-field fence.

"I was just trying to get my pitch," said Kommerstad. "Luckily, I got all of it. Lakeville played a great game. They hit the ball consistently and the momentum switched hands multiple times."

Were the home runs special to Kommerstad?

"Anytime you hit a home run when it counts, it is special," he said. "Every team has come at us hard this season because of what we accomplished last year. I think we're just as good as we were last year."

Peterson was given a tough assignment Friday when Fire Club pitcher Marcus McKenzie suffered a shoulder injury on a play at first in the bottom of the sixth. Peterson came in cold from the field with only a few warm- up tosses. In the top of the seventh, Lakeville tied the score 7-7 with a pair of runs.

"I used my first inning to get loose, then I felt good the last two innings," said Peterson, who had four strikeouts. "I usually need a lot of warm-up time to get loose. I was real concerned about Marcus; he's one of our best players."

When Kommerstad hit his second homer in the bottom of the seventh, Peterson focused on what he had to do.

"I thought Sean's home run was the big hit we needed,"said Peterson. "Then it was up to me."

The slender right-hander was ready for the challenge. After getting the first two outs in the top of the ninth, he wanted to finish with a flurry. He got two strikes on the batter, then called on his bread-and-butter pitch a high fastball. The batter swung and missed, allowing Excelsior to move on in tournament play.

Prior to the game with Lakeville, the Fire Club lost to East Grand Forks 7-6 and defeated the Richfield Reds 12-5.

Excelsior was playing sloppy ball against Richfield and coach Mark (Lunch) McKenzie took time to teach a life lesson in the dugout. "What you do in adulthood is you fix the problem," he said.

McKenzie's son, Marcus, took note and gathered the players together for a quick meeting. It really made the difference, as the Fire Club found its groove and put Richfield away.

"Losing to East Grand Forks is definitely a setback," said Marcus McKenzie. "East Grand Forks was bigger, better and older than last year. Losing that game means we\rquote ll have to play a lot more games. In this game [with Richfield] we were lackadaisical when we should have been driving the stake in."

Excelsior still hopes to drive that stake in this weekend, but it won't be easy with Marcus McKenzie apparently out for the remainder of the state tournament.

People know who we are," said Marcus McKenzie. "We just can't afford to let down."
Lakeville Bows Out, but May be Heir Apparent in 2004 by John Sherman
Lakeville made a statement at the 2003 State American Legion Baseball Tournament.

And the statement was, "We'll be back."

After Lakeville lost to Excelsior 8-7 in a losers'-bracket game at Century High School Friday afternoon, coach Corey Kennedy discussed the highlights of 2003 and his goals for the summer of 2004.

"I think we proved today that we're every bit as good as Excelsior," said Kennedy. "This game was no fluke. Our guys learned the art of hitting and they really understand what they're doing. They have raised the bar for the Lakeville baseball program."

Eleven key players are eligible to return next season, including right fielder and offensive catalyst Brylee Callender, infielder An drew Hansen and top pitchers Brock Stimson, Kyle Zweber and Justin Hahn. The ace of the staff was Hahn with a 7-1 record.

Top returning hitters for the 2004 season will include Hansen (.386), Andrew Headding (.354), Zweber (.358), Callender (.355) and Stimson (.321).

Kennedy, who play on the Rochester A's state runner-up Legion team in 1986, said his philosophy is similar to that of A's veteran coach Keith Kangas.

Kennedy, who is an assistant coach under Lakeville High head coach Mark Zeise, said he is looking forward to coaching the Legion team next summer. "We will have some real good returning pitchers, and I expect to be right here again next year," he said.

Lakeville had a tremendous rivalry with Apple Valley this summer, both in league play and in the Third District Tournament. "We have tremendous respect for [coach] Bruce Young and the Apple Valley program," said Kennedy, whose team finished the season 26-9-1 overall. "It's an honor to play a team like that and we feel good about our 3-1 record against them this summer."

One of the victories over Apple Valley was 5-4 in 11 innings at the district tournament. Another was 12-5 in the state tournament on Friday morning.

Lakeville split its first two games at state, defeating Hermantown 9-3 and losing to Bloomington Blue 11-9.
Baren Returns for the 76ers by John Sherman
Even though he was eligible to return to the Apple Valley 76ers American Legion team this summer, Kyle Baran was not sure he would.

It was kind of a been there, done that situation for the 18-year-old, who graduated from high school in 2002 and played the 2003 season at Iowa Central Community College. Baran talked to 76ers manager Bruce Young, who extended an invitation to play one more year of Legion ball.

"Anytime you can have a guy like Kyle on your team, it's bound to help you," said Young. "I couldn't wait to get him back in uniform because he's not only a great player, but a team leader."

Baran's status as a team leader was never a question. The left-handed hitter led the 76ers this summer with a .573 average on 63 hits in 110 at-bats. He hit 24 doubles and four homers, including a homer against Marshall at the state tournament.
The 76ers bid to repeat as state Legion champ;s ended in a 12-5 loss to Third District rival Lakeville on Friday morning at Mayo Field in Rochester.

"Coach Young had a spot on the roster and I was young enough, so I decided to play," said Baran. "I really enjoyed it. Last summer was kind of like a last hurrah for the seniors. There were 10 of us and we had played a lot together. We had great camaraderie, which helped us win the state championship."

It was different this year. The team was younger and Baran was older than most of the other players.

"I wanted to get as many at-bats as possible this summer, and playing for the 76ers was a good way to do that," said Baran. "I have no regrets about playing another year of Legion ball. It's a lot of fun being here [in Rochester]. We didn't do as well as we did last year, mainly because the balls didn't drop our way."
Baran led the 76ers as the at the plate. He went three for four in an 11-7 first-round loss to Eden Prairie and was also three for four in a 12-5 victory over Marshall. He was one for three in the loss to Lakeville, so he finished the tournament with seven hits in 11 at-bats.

"The secret to my hitting is being patient at the plate," said Baran. "I just try to get my pitch and hit it."

"W have had some grfeat ballplayuers in this program," said couach Young. "There is no doubt that Kyle Baran is among the best. I can't even begin to count the clutch hits he had for us last season and this season. He gets the job done."

Baran said playing for Apple Valley Legion has been a special experience. "Our coaches [Young and Jeremy Engen] are good guys and always supportive of the players. Our manager, Dick LeSavage, makes sure the program is first class. Not many teams travel on their own bus and gto out to eat after games like we do."


Game Summaries, Friday, August 8, 2003:

Game 17
East Grand Forks 8, Tri-City Red 7
East Grand Forks scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth and one in the bottom of the ninth to eliminate Tri-City Red. Josh Kaiser pitched six innings in relief for the win. Ryan Carlson pitched seven innings for Tri-City Red and also hit a home run.

Tri-City Red     0 0 4   0 1 0   2 0 0     7   15   1
East Grand Forks     2 0 0   0 0 0   1 4 1     8   10   0

Carlson, Reinen (8), Reis (8) and M. Johnson. Jason Kaiser, Josh Kaiser (4) and M. Marek. WP Josh Kaiser, LP Reis. Home runs: Carlson, Tri-City Red, M. Marek, East Grand Forks.

Game 18
Rochester Redhawks 13, Eden Prairie 6

Both teams came out swinging the bats in an elimination game at Mayo Field. The Redhawks scored 12 runs in the first three innings and held out for the win with Aaron Senne pitching eight strong i nnings of relief. Tom Senne hit a home run for the Redhawks and went three for four with six RBIs. Matt Meyer added three hits and two RBIs.

Roch Redhawks     3 3 6   0 0 0   0 1 0   13   12   1
Eden Prairie     2 4 0   0 0 0   0 0 0   6   8   4

Anderson, A. Senne (2) and Wahl. Rued, T. Laughlin (2) and Pierce. WP Senne, LP T. Laughlin. Home run: T. Senne, Rochester Redhawks.

Game 19
Excelsior 12, Bemidji 3
Excelsior lead-off man Zach Peterson got three hits in six at-bats and scored three runs to lead his team past Bemidji in a losers'-bracket game on Friday morning at Hudson Field. Jake W illiams also had a productive day for the winners with three-hits in five at-bats and four RBIs. Jeff Engel added three RBIs on two hits. Bryan Bach worked 8 and 2/3 innings on the mound for the winners and allowed six hits. Thor Josefson had three hits i n four at-bats for Bemidji, which finished the season with a record of 20-9.

Bemidji     0 0 0   0 0 3   0 0 0       3   6   4
Excelsior     2 2 0   3 3 2   0 0 X       12   13   1

Fairchild, Fulk (5) and Bjelland. Bach, Norman (9) and P. McKenzie, Spevacek (5). WP Bach, LP Bjelland.

Game 20
Lakeville 12, Apple Valley 5
In a rematch of a Third District Tournament game, Lakeville defeated defending state champion Apple Valley for the second straight time. Michael Johnson pitched 2 and 2/3 innings of s coreless relief. Winning pitcher Kyle Zweber allowed seven hits in 6 and 2/3 innings. Andrew Hansen's home run gave Lakeville a boost. Brylee Callender had four stolen bases and reached base in all five of hit plate appearances for Lakeville.

Apple Valley     1 0 2   0 0 2   0 0 0       5   7   1
Lakeville     0 1 1   4 1 1   1 3 1       12   8   3

Prestrud, Marschel (4), Niswanger (6), Ruff (8) and Klefsaas. Zweber, M. Johnson (7) and Masloski. WP Zweber, LP Prestrud. Home run: Andrew Hansen, Lakeville.

Game 21
Rochester Redhawks 9, East Grand Forks 8

With the game tied heading into the last of the 9th, Ben Gerlesberger singled. Josh Brady hit a sacrifice bunt to first, but the throw went into left field. The throw from the outfield went into the dugout, and the Redhawks pulled out hte game on the two errors. Ben Becker had two doubles and scored three runs for the Hawks. Tim Gerlesberger's homer in the eighth tied the game. Andrew Marek had three hits for East Grand, and Gray Molck had two hits.

East Grand Forks     0 0 2   0 0 0   3 3 0       8   13   4
Roch Redhawks     1 0 0   2 1 0   2 2 1       9   17   1

Andrew Marek, Matt Marek (9) and Matt Marek, Amundson. Zack Nesler, O'Reilly (6), Meyer (8) and Wahl. WP Matt Meyer. LP Matt Marek. Home run: Tim Gerlesberger, Rochester Redhawks.

Game 22
Excelsior 8, Lakeville 7
Sean Kommerstad of Excelsior hit two opposite-field home runs, including the game-winner in the seventh inning, as his team defeated Third District champion Lakeville in an elimination game. Kommerstad's other home run came with a man on in the fifth inning. At the end of the sixth inning, E xcelsior pitcher Marcus McKenzie injured his shoulder on a play at first base and had to leave the game. Zach Peterson took over on the mound and got the win with four strikeouts over the last three innings.

Lakeville     0 0 1   3 0 1   2 0 0       7   10   1
Excelsior     0 1 3   0 2 1   1 0 X       8   7   2

Englund, Stimson (4), Hahn (6) and Masloski. M. McKenzie, Peterson (7) and P. McKenzie. WP Z. Peterson, LP Hahn. Home runs: Kommerstad, Excelsior (2).

Game 23
Bloomington Blue 8, New Ulm Gold 7

Christian Hulting doubled home Pat Finley for the winning run in the ninth to complete Bloomington's come-from-behind victory. Blue advances to the winners' bracket final on Saturday night. Even though Bloomington Blue outhit New Ulm Gold 16-7, New Ulm stayed close with a good defensive effort. Rob Nelson led Blue's attack, going four for five with a key double in the eighth. Stee Edlefsen added three hits for Blue. Eric Austvold stole home and had two hits for New Ulm.

Bloomington Blue     1 0 0   1 1 0   2 2 1     8   16   4
New Ulm Gold     0 1 2   2 0 0   0 0 2     7   7   2

Vaudreuil, Seal (6) and Ottum, Farasyn, Breu (8) and Thorson. SP Seal. LP Breu.

Game 24
Rochester A's 6, Cold Spring 3

Winning pitcher Ted Garry struck out 10 in eight innings and Mike Badger saved the game for the second night in a row as the Rochester A's advanced to the sinners'-bracket final. Dan Lyons hit a solo homer in the sixth inning to lead Rochester's offense. Chris Collins had a double and two RBIs.

Rochester A's     1 0 1   0 0 1   0 3 0       6   7   0
Cold Spring     0 0 2   0 0 0   0 0 1       3   6   4

Garry, Badger (9) and Craig, Collins (7). Butala, Lieser (6) and Jonas. WP Garry. LP Butala.

Additional Issues:

The Gazette, Thursday, August 7, 2003
The Gazette, Friday, August 8, 2003
The Gazette, Sunday, August 10, 2003
2003 State Tournament Homepage

Last Updated: 8/9/03
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