Woodbury Legion baseball: Blue battles, comes up shortWoodbury Blue, the eighth seed out of 20 teams, went 2-2 in the grueling four-day, double-elimination District 3 tournament, beating Hastings and Northfield, but falling to Shakopee and St. Paul Park.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
A worn-down Woodbury Blue Legion Post 501 baseball team battled some of the state’s best teams in the District 3 playoff tournament, but came up shy of a trip to the 2012 state tournament.
Woodbury Blue, the eighth seed out of 20 teams, went 2-2 in the grueling four-day, double-elimination District 3 tournament, beating Hastings and Northfield, but falling to Shakopee and St. Paul Park.
“Anytime you can get to that last day and still be alive you have a shot,” Woodbury Blue head coach Justin Feldkamp said. “There are six teams left on that last day playing for three spots in the state tournament. We battled, but ended up losing to Park. We could have had 10 different things go our way to win that game against Park, but it just didn’t happen.”
Top seed and No. 2-ranked Eastview won the District 3 championship for the third straight year to be one of three teams from District 3 to qualify for the 2012 state tournament. Also earning trips to state were second-seeded Burnsville and fourth-seeded Lakeville North.
“The guys really battled their butts off,” Feldkamp said. “It seemed like we were in the driver’s seat for a chance to be in the state tournament, but it didn’t happen. Every game is nine-innings and you play a ton of games. All 16 teams in there are all good and the top five or six teams are some of the best teams in the state. It’s pretty good competition.”
Woodbury Blue began the tournament taking on ninth-seeded Shakopee for a chance to play Eastview in the quarterfinals. However, Shakopee won the game 7-4. Woodbury was up 3-2 until the seventh inning, but Shakopee took the lead and never looked back.
“Really, what that game came down to was that Shakopee had one kid that had a home-run in the seventh inning and had a two-run double in the ninth inning. He had five of their seven RBIs. He really beat us all by himself.”
From the plate, Joe Wood led the way, going 2-for-3 with a double, a single and an RBI.
Brandon Mazur took the loss, despite throwing 6 1/3 innings with one strikeout.
“Mazur threw a great game,” Feldkamp said. “He threw a ton of pitches. I could tell the big guy was getting tired. Once you get behind a batter you have to throw it right in there and that’s what got us. It was a tough game and the kids played well, but that’s just how baseball goes.”
After the loss, Woodbury kept its season alive, rebounding with a 9-6 win over 17th-seeded Hastings. Woodbury Blue starting pitcher Noah Danner came up big, throwing a complete game with six strikeouts for the win. Feldkamp said Danner threw over 150 pitchers in the game.
“I usually don’t like to do that, but he’s a senior and he wanted to keep going back out there,” Feldkamp said. “That was gutsy. It was huge for us, because that allowed us to save a pitcher for the next game.”
Woodbury scored a run in each of the third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings, then put four runs on the board in the eighth inning to take a lead it wouldn’t relinquish. Quinton Strub had a two-RBI double and Ryan Scanlon and Chris Hofacker each had RBIs in the big inning. For the game, Scanlon was 2-for-3 with an RBI and leadoff hitter Ryan Winter was 2-for-3 with three RBI and three steals.
“The boys came out and played really well,” Feldkamp said. “They knew we couldn’t lose that game or we’d be done.”
Woodbury Blue carried its momentum through to its next game – a 10-8 win over sixth-seeded Northfield. Woodbury had 17 hits in the game. Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit and scored at least one run. Winter and Sawyer Moon each scored two runs in the game.
“This was an awesome game,” Feldkamp said. “Northfield came out really loud and confident. They were chirping the whole time. We just kept hitting and hitting. We pounded them the whole game, but they came back. It was the funnest game of the tournament I think.”
Leading 5-2, Woodbury Blue scored four runs in the fifth inning to go ahead 9-2 – then held on for the win. Post 501 scored its fourth run of the inning on a suicide squeeze – executed perfectly as Moon plated Rexroth from third base on a bunt that fell between the pitcher and the third baseman.
“That was a really sweet play to get a lot of momentum on our side,” Feldkamp said.
Starting pitcher Nate Walgren earned the win in the game, going eight innings and striking out three.
“Walgren pitched a great game,” Feldkamp said. “He had 25 first-pitch strikes. That just shows he had them on their toes. He was well over 100 pitches as well. I never like to go over 100 pitches, but all these guys went over 100 and really did well for us.”
Woodbury Blue’s season came to an end, however, against a streaking St. Paul Park team. The Parkers, the 14th seed in the tournament, upset Post 501 by a 10-9 score, winning the game in walk-off fashion.
In the slug-fest, Woodbury and St. Paul Park scored 13 combined runs in the final three innings and had 36 total hits – Woodbury had 16 and St. Paul Park had 20.
Despite a solid outing, Woodbury pitcher Tyler Triffletti was stuck with the no decision. He went 7 1/3 innings, striking out three.
“He pitched really well,” Feldkamp said. “He was keeping the St. Paul Park guys off balance the whole time. He started to get tired at the end and we had to make a move. But, Tyler gave us a great effort.”
Woodbury took a 4-0 lead with two runs in the second inning. St. Paul Park plated two runs in the fourth inning to cut into the deficit. But, Woodbury scored two runs in the seventh inning to go up 6-2. After St. Paul Park scored a run in the bottom half of the seventh to make it a 6-3 game, Woodbury got two runs back in the eighth inning to make it 8-3. However, St. Paul Park scored six runs in the bottom half of the eighth to take a 9-8 lead. In the ninth, and final, inning Hofacker tied the game 9-9 with an RBI single. However, in the bottom of the ninth, St. Paul Park scored the game winning run with two outs on a double, two walks and an error to end the game – and the season.
“It was just a great baseball game,” Feldkamp said. “It was one of those things where one bad call, one bad pitch or one error just kills you. It was a crazy game. It was baseball at its finest.”
Woodbury Blue finished the season 17-12 overall and was 10-5 in League F, which was good for second place. On the year, Winter led the team in batting with a .400 average, followed by Wood, who batted .379. Wood tied for the team lead in hits, along with Scanlon, with 33 and had a team-best 17 RBI. Rexroth and Moon each had 16 RBI on the year as well. Winter led the team in runs scored with 21 and steals with 24. Wood and Hofacker each had 20 runs scored and Rexroth had a team-best four homeruns. From the mound, Danner led the team with seven wins, 40 strikeouts and a 2.21 ERA. Mazur and Wood each had two saves and Walgren had a 2.74 ERA.