Cold Spring, MN - Day two of the 94th Minnesota American Legion State Tournament featured some mega matchups and plenty of high end elimination round games. 12 teams remained from the field of 16 and after Friday was whittled down to 6 at the end of the day. Of the six, only two had yet to be defeated, Excelsior and Edina. After Saturday’s games, there will be three remaining teams of which two will advance to the Central Plains Regional Tournament in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
On the brink
Four teams are one loss away from elimination entering the day. Woodbury Blue and Buffalo, winners of three straight since losing their first game to Excelsior, are looking to repeat the impressive feat by the Rosetown Rockets last year. Rosetown wound up winning 5 elimination round games to advance to the Sunday game and were one game away from earning a berth to the Central Plains Regional in Dickinson, ND.
Tri-City Red is in the elimination round after falling to Excelsior in a dramatic walk-off 7-6 loss and takes on Woodbury Blue.
New Ulm Gold, is the fourth team one loss away from elimination after falling to Edina 5-3 in their quarterfinal round game. Their game with Buffalo is slated for 12:30pm on Saturday.
Excelsior walks off Tri-City Red
The game featuring Excelsior and Tri-City Red that official scorer James Huss proclaimed a, “get your popcorn ready early” game was well stated and accurate. It lived up to all expectations as Excelsior walked off a 7-6 win in the bottom of the seventh. The game was full of momentum shifts, lead changes, and plenty of chirping.
It was a heart-breaking loss for TCR who held a 5-2 and 6-4 lead late in the game. Excelsior’s experience was too much to overcome when it came to crunch time. With 8 college age players on the roster, the depth of Excelsior was too much. They were held off the scoreboard in just 2 of the 7 innings and delivered when needed.
Nick Thimsen doubled to lead off the bottom half of the seventh inning for Excelsior and advanced to third on a wild pitch. With nobody out and holding the 6-5 lead, TCR pulled their infield in. They got what they wanted in the ground ball to third base. It was a tough play to the left and Thimsen scored on a close play at home tying the game at 6.
Jarod Wandersee singled to score Evan Steingas for the game winning hit. The Excelsior shortstop and lead off hitter was solid in the field and 2-4 at the plate. The Concordia University, St. Paul shortstop was 2-4 at the plate and provided the crucial game winning hit.
John Hanson and Hunter Wehling were 2-4 with an RBI while Nick Thimsen was 2-3 with an RBI.
Excelsior has defeated Woodbury Blue (5-2) and Duluth Lakeview (12-1) in their previous tournament games improving their record to 50-2 on the season.
Tri-City Red has the grit and playoff experience to work their way back to another Central Plains Regional Tournament. To get it done, they need to win three games in two days. Standing in their way is the opening game on Saturday against a solid Woodbury Blue team. Excelsior has a date with their neighbor Edina Post 471.
Edina tops New Ulm Gold, stays unbeaten
Drew Bishop has been Edina’s go-to pitcher in clutch situations and none was better than his outing against New Ulm Gold on Saturday evening at Cold Spring Park. He earned a complete game win scattering 8 hits while striking out 5. New Ulm Gold touched him for 2 runs in the bottom half of the first.
Edina responded with a run in the bottom of the first inning and then had the game’s biggest blow on a bases loaded double by Lucas Fleming that cleared the bases scoring Evan Brown, Andrew Enck and Matthew Enck for the 5-2 lead. It held up as Edina played tight defensively not making an error and were workman like in their effort. Drew Schmidt and Brown were each 2-3 at the plate for Edina who will take on Excelsior in the final game on Saturday evening. The winner will be guaranteed a spot in the Central Plains Regional Tournament in Sioux Falls South Dakota this upcoming weekend.