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Legion Baseball: Woodbury Blue remains confident with younger lineup

Leadoff hitter Henry George tries to drop down a bunt for a base hit during a June 5 Legion game in Woodbury. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Jack Horman throws a pitch for Woodbury Legion Blue Post 501 on June 5. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Shortstop Adam Mazur catches a popup during a June 5 Legion game against New Prague. Blaze Fugina / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

The Woodbury Legion Blue Post 501 baseball team showed off some of the talent that has helped it gain a No. 5 state ranking with an 11-2 win over New Prague on Wednesday, July 5.

Woodbury pitchers Brodie Paulson and Jack Horman combined to take a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and two more big innings on offense helped produce enough runs in the runaway victory. Legion coach Nick Kropidlowski said the combined near no-hitter, broken up by a ground ball single on the right side of the infield in the seventh inning, was the closest the team has come to the feat in recent memory. Woodbury could have ended the game by hitting the 10-run limit in the bottom of the sixth, but New Prague escaped the bases-loaded jam with a ground ball to the pitcher.

"It was good to see," Kropidlowski said. "I was hoping we could get that one run across with the bases loaded there. Then we wouldn't have to worry about pitching the top of the seventh. But it didn't work out that way. We'll get another chance at it."

Luke Swenson scored two runs and drove in three RBIs with two doubles in the win. Adam Mazur also drove in two RBIs with a double in the first inning. Horman pitched the final 5 and one-third innings of the game to finish off the victory.

The win improved Woodbury to a season record of 5-4.

With absences in the lineup this summer, Post 501's record has not yet matched the team's potential. Not only have players missed games through the schedule, but others who were eligible have decided not to return from last year's team that won a Division I state title. Max Meyer, the No. 1 starter from Woodbury's high school season, also is not pitching this summer before starting his first season as a University of Minnesota baseball player.

"It's a lot of new guys," Kropidlowski said. "We lost quite a few starting guys, and some of the ex-players who are freshmen in college who are young enough to play."

But Woodbury has still been confident in its chances to contend for another state title. Younger players are getting more experience, and Post 501 hopes that will pay off come tournament time later this month.

"We started a little slow," Kropidlowski said. "The young guys are figuring it out though and putting together some better at-bats."

Woodbury will play in the Gopher Classic tournament on June 7 through 11, including games the first three days at Woodbury High School.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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