Woodbury Legion baseball: Blue in the driver's seatThe Woodbury Blue Legion Post 501 baseball team split a pair of League F games last week and went 3-2 in its five games at the Gopher Classic Tournament to improve to 11-9 on the year overall.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
With the playoffs looming, the Woodbury Blue Legion baseball team has itself in the driver’s seat.
The Woodbury Blue Legion Post 501 baseball team split a pair of League F games last week and went 3-2 in its five games at the Gopher Classic Tournament to improve to 11-9 on the year overall.
With five regular-season games remaining, Woodbury’s record is now 7-3 in League F play.
Woodbury Blue head coach Justin Feldkamp said he believes his team is playing its best baseball of the year right now.
“We’ve been playing some teams lately that are supposedly really good,” Feldkamp said. “The boys have been excited to play. They’re being really aggressive, working really hard and starting to figure out all the little things they need to do to help us win and get that one extra run that will help us win the games.”
In its most recent league win, Woodbury Blue rebounded from back-to-back losses to rivals St. Paul Park and East Ridge to beat Mahtomedi 4-1 on Tuesday, July 10, at Woodbury High School. Starting pitcher Steven Fingleton, a 2012 Woodbury graduate, led the way for Post 501 throwing a complete-game, allowing five hits and one earned run while striking out six. At the plate, 2012 Woodbury graduate Ben Rexroth led the way, going 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBI. Woodbury did most of its damage in the first inning, going ahead 3-0, with Rexroth delivering the big hit – a two-RBI double.
In its other league game last week, Woodbury battled against one of League F’s top teams, Inver Grove Heights, but came up short, falling 8-7 on Thursday, July 12.
“That was a game I really wanted to win,” Feldkamp said. “Inver Grove plays hard and is a confident bunch. We played well and hit the ball like crazy, but every ball seemed to be hit right at somebody. We just couldn’t catch a break.”
Though at Simley, Woodbury was officially the home team and had the last at-bat in the game. Down 8-7 with runners on first and third and two outs, Rexroth nailed a line drive to the gap in left centerfield, but the ball was run down by IGH’s centerfielder and what could have won the game for Woodbury, instead ended the game.
“That runner on first base was the winning run,” Feldkamp said. “If that ball gets through we would have won the game, but they made the play. It was a crazy, back-and-forth game.”
Woodbury senior Sawyer Moon led the way for Post 501 in the game, going 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and an RBI.
After its league games, Woodbury Blue took part in the Gopher Classic – the nation’s largest Legion baseball tournament – going 3-2 in its five games. Woodbury beat Valley Springs, S.D., 4-1, then fell to Chippewa Falls, Wis., 5-4, but rebounded to beat Prior Lake 11-1 and Roseville 5-2, before closing the tournament with a 7-3 loss to Edina.
After the loss to Chippewa Falls, Feldkamp said he spoke to the team about playing with more effort and grit and shook up the lineup – moving Ryan Winter from the middle of the order to the leadoff spot.
“He’s been outstanding,” Feldkamp said of Winter, a senior at Woodbury. “He’s one of the best athletes on the team. He’s really big, but he’s one of the fastest kids I’ve had in a long time. He gets on and steals second and third almost every time he gets on. He’s a game changer out there. We shook some things up and the boys played really well.”
Feldkamp said, along with Winter, Joe Wood led the way for Woodbury at the plate and Brandon Mazur, who earned the win over Roseville, stood out on the mound.
“Wood crushed a homer against Edina,” Feldkamp said. “It was one of those that you knew was gone right away. Without Mazur against Roseville, we wouldn’t have had a chance to play Edina. He was hitting all his spots and pitched really well. Roseville couldn’t touch him.”
Feldkamp said the Gopher Classic was a good experience for his team.
“It’d be nice to go back there every year, because there are tons of scouts out there and great baseball all weekend,” he said. “It always attracts the best teams in the state. It’s fun to go up against those guys and see what you got. This weekend was really important, because the boys figured out if they play hard they can compete with anybody.”
Woodbury took on rival St. Paul Park on Monday and fellow League F team Oakdale on Tuesday, after the Bulletin went to press. On Wednesday, Woodbury will make up a double-header with Forest Lake, before putting a cap on the regular season at Stillwater on Thursday.
“We’re really getting down to the final stretch of league play here. Right now, we’re sitting in fourth place. If we can win a few more of these games that will make sure we don’t need to play in one of the play-in, single-elimination games to get into the 16-team tournament,” Feldkamp said. “We’re trying to get a couple wins this week. It’s really important, because we don’t want to be in that single-elimination tournament where anything can happen.”