The Forest Lake Legion baseball team went on a rampage of wins last week in post-season play, starting with a 4-2 win over Tri-City Blue on Tuesday in White Bear Lake, followed by a win over No. 2 seed Lino Lakes at Midway Stadium on Wednesday.
Noah Brown pitched a complete nine-inning game for a 6-1 victory on Wednesday while recording nine strikeouts.
Post 225 returned to Midway the next night to face top-seeded Tri-City Red, comprised mainly of the state champion Mounds View team, which ousted the Rangers this spring.
Forest Lake got revenge, winning 6-0 with Jack Schmidt completing nine innings for the shutout. He recorded seven strikeouts and gave up six hits with just one in the final five innings. The win advanced Forest Lake to the championship games over the weekend against Tri-City Red again after they eliminated Stillwater on Friday.
In the double-elimination Subsection 8 tournament, Tri-City Red needed to defeat Forest Lake twice in White Bear Lake to take the title, and they nearly pulled it off.
Officials called off Saturday’s first scheduled game due to rain, pushing it to 1 p.m. Sunday. Forest Lake lost the first game, 5-2, forcing game two without the help of starting catcher and power hitter, Beau Fandel, who suffered an injury in game one.
Head coach Valdie Magstadt said he wasn’t too worried following the loss.
“I didn’t have to say much,” Magstadt said. “We’ve got a good group of seniors and players that performed well the whole tournament. And we were in a good spot with Phil [Sauer] pitching in game two — he’s been (in) a lot of tight games this year. Really, there’s just a quiet confidence with this whole team.”
After three scoreless innings for Forest Lake while facing Division I signee Max Knutson on the mound, Alex Egle crossed home plate in the top of the fourth inning to put Forest Lake on the board and even things up at one apiece.
Dylan Dresel led a Post 225 offensive run in the fifth inning by drawing a leadoff walk, then advanced to second base on a passed ball. Following a Forest Lake strikeout, Schmidt reached first on an error by the Tri-City Red right fielder that scored Dresel. Brown extended the inning with a single between shortstop and third base to put runners on first and second base.
Forest Lake would score once more when Egle hit an RBI single to score Schmidt and give Post 225 a 3-1 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Forest Lake found themselves in a sticky situation in the field with just one out. Following an infield roller and a single off of Sauer, Tri-City Red had runners on first and second with the go-ahead run at the plate. Sauer battled from the mound and with a 1-2 count, snagged a zinging liner for out No. 2 before throwing to first base for the force out to close the inning.
Forest Lake added to the excitement when Sauer walked the first two batters in the bottom of the ninth inning. Magstadt brought in Joe Vacinek, who got the save against Tri-City Blue earlier in the week, to pitch.
Vacinek recorded the first out of the inning off of a sacrifice bunt that moved the Tri-City runners to second and third base. Vacinek would walk the next two batters, closing Forest Lake’s lead to 3-2 with bases loaded and one out.
Brown, who played third base due to pitching changes, came up with a game-saving snag when the next Tri-City Red batter drilled a shot up the left-field line for the second out.
Vacinek secured the win and championship by forcing a pop-up to center field, where Skyler Winning made a running catch for the final out.
Post 225 advances to the 16-team Minnesota Legion State Tournament, where they face defending champs and host team, Edina, in the first round at 1 p.m. Friday.
“I think we showed this week that we can compete with anyone,” Magstadt said. “As long as we continue to pitch, hit and play defense, we’ll be in these games.”