St. Paul, MN - The Waconia American Legion baseball team had just completed its impressive rally over Stillwater in an elimination game and were rewarded with the waiting Eden Prairie team. While Eden Prairie was sitting idle and watching Waconia battle Stillwater, it became apparent early that it was Eden Prairie, who shot out of the gate with 3 runs in the first and two more in the second, was fresh and ready to go.
Such is life when teams fall to the elimination bracket where there are extra innings to consume on the mound and games to play. Waconia starting pitcher Will Koppi got the start and did not have a recorded inning pitched this season at the Sr. Legion level entering the tournament according to the official statistics provided to the tournament personnel.
The top third of the Eden Prairie lineup was potent as Zack Elliot, Mike Espe, and Will Pahl combined to go 7-13 with 5 runs scored on the game. The number four hitter Connor Kehl, knocked in a pair of runs in the effort and Collin Farris was 2-3 with an RBI for Eden Prairie.
Koppi settled in impressively and kept the game close. His counterpart, Eden Prairie pitcher Mitchell Olson, pitched eight innings and allowed just 4 hits to a solid hitting Waconia team. Olson improved his record to 4-0 on the season and in doing so, the typical energy that came from the Waconia side of the field was not as prevalent in their second game of the afternoon.
The effects of what appeared to be a quadriceps injury to his right leg on a play at second base in the Stillwater game to the slugging A.J. Friedrich that lingered into the Eden Prairie game. He also had a taped right thumb and wrist. It was a triage look to the Waconia team that appeared to have flat out run out of gas against Eden Prairie but certainly not heart as they battled to the final out.
Eden Prairie has a knack of finding a way in the state tournament setting and is no stranger to state championships having captured seven state titles, two regional titles and one world series title in their history. Eden Prairie rebounded from a loss to Ham Lake on Saturday with two impressive wins today against Excelsior (5-4) and Waconia.
Eden Prairie (21-9) is cued up to play against the loser of the Tri-City Red and Ham lake game as three teams remain in the Minnesota American Legion State Tournament with two of them advancing to the Great Plains Regional in Dickinson North Dakota later this week.
Waconia closed out the season with a 19-11-1 record.