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Arms step up for Woodbury Post 501 at Gopher Classic

Any concerns of pitching depth for the Woodbury Legion Blue Post 501 baseball team were answered during the Gopher Classic last weekend and July 10.

Woodbury finished 5-0 during pool play, which was hosted at Woodbury High School. The pool victory placed Post 501 into a 16-team championship bracket against the other pool play winning teams. Woodbury won the first game of the playoff round 6-5 against Omaha Burke #1 on July 10 in Bloomington. But the run ended just short of the tournament's semifinals when Creighton Prep came back in the bottom of the seventh inning to win 5-4.

The six games leading up to the matchup with Creighton Prep had depleted most of Woodbury's pitchers. Only Bradlee Felton was left as a regular pitcher who was eligible to throw under pitch count rules.

And Felton pitched well enough to give Woodbury a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the seventh inning. But Creighton Prep rallied for a walk-off 5-4 win.

"Felton threw an amazing game," assistant coach Nick Kropidlowski said. "He threw all seven innings when we needed him the most. The team battle back, and battled hard for as little pitching that we had left."

The Woodbury coaches credited the team's pitchers for helping them reach within one game of the championship round of the Gopher Classic.

"We got further than a lot of people expected us to make it," Kropidlowski said. "With that few of arms left, it was a great game as it was, and we came very close to winning it."

The offense was also impressive during the tournament, especially in pool play when Woodbury nearly averaged 10 runs per game. Woodbury's wins in pool play were 9-0 against St. Louis Park, 8-3 against St. Louis Park, 14-13 against Omaha Skutt, 11-3 against Brookings and 6-2 against Shakopee.

"We hit the ball really well," Kropidlowski said. "Guys were taking good at-bats, they seemed to be seeing the ball really well."

The Legion baseball district playoffs are scheduled to start next week. With all of the practice Woodbury received during seven Gopher Classic games in four days, they are now ready for the playoff challenge.

"I would say the confidence is pretty high right now," Kropidlowski said. "Everybody got a lot of playing time this week, with seven games in four days. Everybody saw the mound. We got to build some confidence, and everyone was hitting the ball."

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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