In the final showing for the Post 225 baseball team this summer, Forest Lake captured third place at the Minnesota American Legion State Tournament.
Forest Lake faced the host, Edina, in the first round for an extra-inning showdown without starting shortstop and leadoff hitter Dylan Dresel or head coach Valdie Magstadt. After 9 1/2 scoreless innings, Joe Vacinek drew a walk, followed by Skyler Winning reaching base after being hit by a pitch. Alex Egle drilled a hard grounder to the right side that put out Winning at second and put runners on the corners with two outs. Brett Gravelle came to the plate to hit the game-winning single to center.
Pitcher Phil Sauer recorded eight strikeouts, including five in the final two innings, to seal a 10-inning shutout.
Post 225’s stellar pitching continued with Noah Brown that evening when the squad faced Eastview.
Forest Lake jumped to an early 1-0 lead starting when Dresel, who returned from a family wedding just prior to play, hit a leadoff double to left-center field. Gravelle followed with a single to center field, advancing Dresel to third base. Dresel then scored on an RBI grounder by Jack Schmidt.
Post 225 continued its offensive run in the second inning with a streak of hits and walks to add three more runs to the board. They went on to win 9-1.
Beau Fandel, Egle and Vacinek led the offense with two hits each, along with two RBIs for Egle and one apiece for Fandel and Vacinek.
Brown completed eight innings on the mound, giving up just six hits before Clayton Dahly closed for Forest Lake in the ninth inning.
Forest Lake fired on all cylinders on Saturday against the Rochester Patriots with a 16-4 victory in just seven innings.
Jack Schmidt pitched a complete game for Post 225 and also went 4-5 at the plate with three RBIs and two runs scored. Egle also led the offense by going 3-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored.
The win sealed Post 225’s appearance in the semifinal matchup of the only remaining undefeated teams on Sunday night against Eden Prairie.
Unfortunately for Post 225, its winning streak ended in a 12-2 loss to the powerhouse Eden Prairie squad, falling in the eighth inning by the 10-run rule.
Sauer went 2-3 at the plate, while Grayson Stout went 1-1.
Forest Lake went on to face a play-in semifinal game with the winner of the loser’s bracket, Burnsville, on Monday morning to determine Eden Prairie’s competitor in the state final.
Post 225 took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Dresel, who led the offense by going 3-4, laced a double down the third-base line to put himself in scoring position. He crossed the plate moments later off an RBI single to right field by Gravelle.
Following a one-two-three defensive showing in the bottom of the first inning behind pitcher Sauer, Forest Lake struggled to stop the bats of the Cobras the remainder of the game. The Cobras slugged a leadoff home run in the second inning, followed by a series of hits to add another run for an early 2-1 lead.
Burnsville ace pitcher, Tyler Hanson, kept Forest Lake at bay for a 3-1 victory and bid to the championship game at 1 p.m., where they lost, 15-2, to Eden Prairie. Both teams advance to the Central Plains Regional in Fargo next weekend.
Assistant coach Bub Lovas, who managed the squad Friday through Sunday, said it was a great showing and end to the season for Post 225.
“This was a lot of fun,” Lovas said. “It was a great tournament and the guys came out with high energy — we had just a ton of leadership on the field.”
Magstadt echoed Lovas’ sentiments on Monday and noted the season’s significance as the final Legion appearance for Forest Lake graduates, who will continue their baseball careers in college: Brown (University of Wisconsin-Stout), Dresel (Mankato State University), Fandel (Nebraska), Sauer (Northern State, South Dakota) and Schmidt (Northern State, South Dakota).
“This is a special group of seniors — I can’t begin to describe what they mean to this program,” Magstadt said. “It’s hard right now to put our season in perspective, since we’re disappointed from the loss after coming so far, but look at all we’ve done this year. This is above and beyond our expectations. It’s been a great season with a lot of success, and you couldn’t ask for anything more from these guys.”