Legion baseball: Post #48 finishes 3-2 at state

Stillwater’s Mason Schwerzler is tagged out by Waconia third baseman Jake Hendricks during an extra-inning loss in the losers bracket of the Legion baseball Division I state tournament on Sunday, July 30 at CHS Field in St. Paul. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

The Stillwater Legion baseball team was eliminated by Waconia on Sunday, July 30 to finish with a 3-2 record in the Division I state tournament.

Post #48 won consecutive games in the losers bracket after losing to Eden Prairie 10-1 in the quarterfinals, but fell 4-3 in 11 innings against Waconia to finish the season with a 25-9 record.

This marked the first state tournament appearance for Stillwater since 1998. Post #48 opened with a 7-6 win over Burnsville in the opening round of the 16-team tourney before falling to Eden Prairie.

Stillwater rallied with a 12-2 win over the St. Cloud 76ers and a 5-2 triumph over Moorhead to set up a match-up with Waconia in the losers bracket semifinals. Waconia was later upended by Eden Prairie 6-2. Host Tri-City Red followed with an 8-6 win over Eden Prairie and then defeated previously unbeaten Ham Lake 6-3 to capture the state championship.

Stillwater catcher Thomas Bruchu tags out Justin Schultz of Waconia on a close play for the third out of the fourth inning during their game in the Legion baseball Division I state tournament on Sunday, July 30 at CHS Field in St. Paul. (Gazette staff photo by Stuart Groskreutz)

Tri-City Red, which finished third behind Stillwater and Forest Lake in sub-state 8 but recevied an automatic state bid as the host, advance to the regional tournament which is being held in Dickinson, N.D. The American Legion World Series will take place in Shelby, N.C., starting on Aug. 8.

Stillwater scored a run in the top of the ninth inning to even the score at 2-all and enjoyed a short-lived lead after adding a run in the top of the 11th. Waconia, however, answered with two runs in the bottom of the inning for the walk-off victory.

Mason Schwerzler finished with three of Stillwater’s 11 hits, including an RBI single in the first. Graham Laubscher also provided three hits while hitting in the No. 2 spot, but Stillwater managed just two hits in 24 at bats from the bottom five spots in the lineup.

Cody Venske was solid for the Ponies while limiting Waconia to two runs on 10 hits and three walks in 6 2/3 innings before reaching the 120-pitch limit. Louis Bisch recorded the final out of the seventh and Will Frisch threw the final 3 1/3 innings for the Post #48. Frisch struck out six, but also issued two walks and allowed four hits.

Stillwater 5, Moorhead 2

Matt Crowell limited Moorhead to eight hits and two walks with five strikeouts in Stillwater’s 5-2 victory in the losers bracket quarterfinals on Saturday, July 29 at the University of Minnesota’s Siebert Field. Crowell threw first-pitch strikes to 28 of the 36 batters he faced in a complete game that required 110 pitches.

Cody Venske collected two hits and drove in three runs for Post #48, which scored twice in the first and added a run in the second to build a 3-0 lead. Venske doubled home two runs in the first and Austin Murr followed with an RBI single in the second.

Moorhead closed the gap with a run each in the top of the sixth and seventh innings, but Stillwater pushed two more runs across in the seventh to rebuild a three-run cushion.

Graham Laubscher and Matt McGinley each joined Venske with two hits for Post #48.

Stillwater 12, St. Cloud 2 (7 inn.)

Mason Schwerzler did not strike out a batter, but was effective while allowing nine hits and two walks in a seven-inning complete game victory over the St. Cloud 76ers in an elimination game on Saturday, July 29 at Siebert Field. Schwerzler threw just 79 pitches in seven innings and the defense did not allow an error behind him.

Cody Venske delivers a pitch for Post #48.

Thomas Bruchu provided four of Stillwater’s 15 hits, including a double and triple, and scored three runs from the lead-off spot. Austin Murr, Schwerzler, Will Frisch and David VanOrt added two hits apiece.

Frisch, VanOrt and Matt McGinley each delivered run-scoring hits in the first as Post #48 built a 5-2 lead. Frisch and VanOrt each finished with three RBIs.

Stillwater added four runs in the fourth inning and invoked the 10-run rule after tacking on three more runs in the top of the seventh.

Eden Prairie 10, Stillwater 1

Trevor Divinski allowed just five hits and two walks and finished with 11 strikeouts in a complete game as Eden Prairie cruised to a 10-1 victory in the quarterfinals on Friday, July 28 at Siebert Field.

Stillwater scored its only run in the top of the first inning, but Eden Prairie answered with a run in the bottom of the first and took control with four runs in the fourth. Eden Prairie extended the lead with a run in the sixth and pulled away with four runs in the eighth.

Zack Elliot finished with three hits to lead Eden Prairie while teammates Mike Espe and Will Pahl added two hits each.

Graham Laubscher, Will Frisch, Cody Venske, Matt Crowell and Matt McGinley each collected one hit for Stillwater.

Stillwater 7, Burnsville 6 (10 inn.)

Matt Crowell singled home the deciding run in the top of the 10th inning as Stillwater opened the state tournament with a 7-6 victory over Burnsville on Friday, July 28 at Siebert Field.

The game was scoreless until the top of the sixth when Post #48 broke through with three runs. Burnsville responded with three runs in the bottom of the sixth, but Stillwater pulled ahead 6-3 after scoring three times in the seventh.

Zach Andreson doubled Andrew Hanson singled to help Burnsville rally with three runs to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Graham Laubscher started for Stillwater and allowed four hits and five walks with 10 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Thomas Bruchu threw the final 2 2/3 innings and was the winner after Crowell’s go-ahead hit in the 10th.

Bruchu, Cody Venske, Crowell and McGinley each finished with two hits while Austin Murr tripled and finished with two RBIs for Stillwater. Bruchu also led Post #48 with two stolen bases.

Contact Stuart Groskreutz at [email protected]