Warriors stay on winning track at state tourney
So far, so good for the Woodbury 35-and-over amateur baseball team as the Warriors earned a pair of victories to remain in the winner's bracket of the North Star Classic League State Tournament.
Woodbury, seeded second in the Class AA bracket of tourney play, earned a walk-off 4-3 win against one of its most storied rivals, the Minnetonka Saints in its postseason opener on Saturday, Aug. 21 at the Alimagnet Fields Complex in Burnsville.
Jeff Patterson, Doug Berfeldt and Doug Ohs each went 2-for-3 at the plate in the contest, yet matters remained in doubt until Dan Paulson's bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh plated Scott Miller with the winning run and propeled Woodbury into the winner's bracket semifinals.
The Warriors returned to Alimagnet the next day to face the defending State champions in the form of the Burnsville Bulldogs on Sunday, Aug. 22.
Yet, on this day, it would be Woodbury -- the 2003 and 2004 Classic League State champions and 2007 Minnesota Senior Men's World Series victor that would continue to stake its claim as the best squad in this season's field by means of a 5-2 win versus the Bulldogs.
Woodbury got on the board in its first turn at the plate in the bottom of the first. After Patterson was called safe at first after apparently being picked off, the Warriors took advantage of the good fortune by scoring a pair of runs they would have otherwise not had the opportunity to do had Patterson been called out.
With two outs in the frame, Patterson came all the way around from first base on a run-scoring double by Chris Schwab before Schwab himself came home on a flare single by Paulson staked the Warriors to a 2-0 lead they would not relinquish.
Woodbury hung one more run on the board in the bottom of the second as Dan Lundgren drove home Miller -- who was pinch hitting for Pat Ryan, who had recorded a two-out double -- to make the count 3-0. It was the first of three runs scored by Miller in the game.
Handed a three-run cushion, Woodbury pitcher Steve Schneider held the Bulldogs at bay until giving up the only runs that Burnsville would score in the top of the fifth.
By that point, however, the Warriors had already scored their fourth run as Tony Fisher scored Miller from third base with a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth. Following the mini-Burnsville uprising, Woodbury added its last run and brought the score to its would-be conclusion as a Paul Ruppert sacrifice fly drove home Miller one final time.
Miller kept any further runs from scoring by hurling out a Bulldog attempting to score at the plate, with Ryan making the tag to end their foes comeback efforts in the sixth inning.
Burnsville would not come so close to scoring again as Schneider set down the side in order in the top of the seventh, icing the game with a strikeout to finalize his eight-hit, seven-whiff effort.
With the win, Woodbury -- who tallied 11 hits in the game -- advance to take on No. 1 seed Cold Spring in the winner's bracket final at 8:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 27 at the Quarry Point complex in Apple Valley.
The Silver Springers defeated the Minnetonka Lakers, 3-2, in the bracket's semifinal matchup that followed the Warriors win.
Woodbury (30-5) fell in its lone meeting of the season between the teams, losing 5-2 at Cold Spring on Tuesday, July 20. The Silver Springers were undefeated in the regular season.
If the Warriors are able to overcome their Friday foe, they will advance to the championship game at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 29. If Woodbury falls to the Silver Springers, then a loser's bracket final against a yet-to-be-determined rival at 3:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 28 would precede any championship game possibilities.