Woodbury Legion baseball: Blue stays white-hotWoodbury Blue continued its solid play down the stretch and earned an automatic bid to the 16-team, double-elimination District 3 playoff tournament.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
The Woodbury Blue Legion Post 501 baseball team is white-hot.
Woodbury Blue continued its solid play down the stretch and earned an automatic bid to the 16-team, double-elimination District 3 playoff tournament.
Woodbury Blue head coach Justin Feldkamp said it was the first time in his five years with the team that Post 501 has made it directly into the round of 16.
“It’s better now that we can just breathe a little bit and concentrate on playing baseball,” Feldkamp said. “We have a lot of pitching depth, which will help in the double-elimination tournament, and the boys will be excited to play. That was huge to get straight into the tournament.”
Woodbury Blue Post 501 went 4-1 in its final five games of the season to finish 15-10 overall and in second place in League F with a 10-5 record. More importantly, the streak earned the eighth seed in the District 3 tournament and a right to bypass a single-elimination play-in game.
Post 501 will now take on ninth-seed Shakopee in the opening round of the District 3 playoffs on Wednesday, July 25. Though on Shakopee’s soil, Woodbury will be the home team.
A win over Shakopee would give Woodbury a game with either No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Eastview or the winner of the Chaska and Hastings play-in game, on Thursday, July 26, in the quarterfinals.
Three out of the 16 teams in District 3 qualify for the state tournament.
“Our guys on any given day can beat anybody,” Feldkamp said. “When you get to this tournament there is a ton of good teams. It comes down to which team can get on a roll. We’ll be going up against some of the best teams in the state, but if we can keep playing good ball I think we can compete with any of them.”
Last week, Woodbury put a cap on the regular season by beating rival St. Paul Park 8-3, topping Oakdale 7-5, falling to Stillwater 6-4, before beating Forest Lake 5-4 and 10-3 in a double-header on Sunday.
To start the week, Woodbury beat St. Paul Park 8-3 on Monday, July 16. Post 501 jumped on St. Paul Park early, scoring three runs before the Parkers’ could get an out, on the way to staking a 8-0 lead. After scoring three runs in the first inning, Woodbury added three runs in the third inning and two more runs in the sixth inning.
Ben Rexroth got things started for Woodbury, driving a three-run home run over the fence, scoring Ryan Winter and Joe Wood, to put Post 501 up 3-0. Noah Danner earned the win on the mound, throwing a complete game while striking out five. Wood led the way at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run.
“I think Danner pitched really well and that home run by Rexroth was huge to get us going,” Feldkamp said.
Woodbury carried its momentum over to its game against Oakdale. Post 501 went up 3-0 with three runs in the top of the first inning. But, Oakdale scored four runs in its half of the first – on a grand slam – to take a 4-3 lead. However, starting pitcher Jacob Roerick kept his composure and allowed his team to take back the lead 5-4. Then, in the top of the seventh inning, Woodbury earned some insurance as Ryan Scanlon hit an RBI double and Tyler Triffletti knocked in a run to put Post 501 up 7-4.
“Those were two really big runs,” Feldkamp said. “Ryan and Tyler had a couple good at-bats to help us win that game.”
Roerick went four innings, striking out six for the win and Brandon Mazur pitched the final three innings to earn the save. From the plate, Rexroth and Wood led the way. Rexroth was 3-for-3 with a double and two single, while Wood was 3-for-3 with two doubles.
“They can’t get Rexroth out right now,” Feldkamp said. “He’s hitting the ball all over the field.”
In the season finale – a double-header with League F-leading Forest Lake – Woodbury solidified its second place finish in the league standings and an automatic spot in the 16-team playoffs with a pair of wins.
In game No. 1, Mazur took the mound and held Forest Lake at bay for the majority of the day. He threw a complete game with six strikeouts. Woodbury was up 5-1 until the seventh inning, when Forest Lake added three runs to make the game close at the end.
Winter led the way from the plate, going 3-for-3 with a single, a double and a triple. Also, Quinton Strub hit his first Legion career home run in the win.
In the second game, Woodbury scored four runs in the first inning and added three runs in the third inning to blow things open. In the win, Roerick, Chris Hofacker, Rexroth and Winter combined for eight hits and four RBI. Winter led the way, going 3-for-4 with two doubles in the finale.
“Winter is our first hitter and he’s hitting .400 right now, Joe Wood comes up next and he’s hitting close to .450 and Rexroth is next and he’s right around .400,” Feldkamp said. “Those three guys just continue to dominate.”