Legion boys head into postseason play

The Forest Lake Legion baseball team closed its 2014 regular season last week. The squad finished with an overall record of 13-7, earning the three-seed of eight in District 3 behind Tri-City Red and Tri-City Maroon, respectively. 

Head coach Valdie Magstadt said his players have done a nice job adapting to a fairly new lineup this summer, in which just one Ranger athlete, Joey Vacinek, returns to the field from last year’s starting lineup. 

“I think for a lot of the kids, it’s their first time playing consistently and it’s a jump — it’s a transition, especially when there’s not a lot of varsity experience,” Magstadt said. “But they’re adjusting, they’re working hard.”

Last Wednesday, Forest Lake suffered a 8-0 loss to Eagan at home, then split a double-header two days later with Mandan, who made a nine-hour trip for the games. 

In the first game against the North Dakota team on Friday, Forest Lake’s Vacinek and Clayton Edstrom contributed to the win on the mound in a seven-inning shut out while Matt Wallner went 3-4 at the plate with three singles and one walk. Brandon Rogers went 2-3 with a double, RBI and two runs scored in the 6-0 victory. 

In the second half of the double-header, Forest Lake opened the door for Mandan in the second inning when the visitors rallied for eight runs in the second inning. Forest Lake would post three runs, but never recovered from the early deficit, losing 8-3. Rogers was the only batter with multiple hits for the home team, going 2-4 with an RBI. 

In a quick change of events, Forest Lake played Mandan in another double-header the next day when Tri-City Red canceled their own matchups against the out-of-state squad. This time, Forest Lake took care of business in both games. 

Ryan Baniecke recorded a seven-inning complete game on the mound in the first game for the 5-3 win, in which John Suess went 3-3 with one run scored. Nick McCormick went 2-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. 

Forest Lake kept its winning ways going in the second game behind pitcher Jake Ashworth, who went six innings for five strikeouts. Edstrom closed the final inning for the home team. 

At the plate, Rogers went 2-3 with two runs scored and was hit by a pitch. Vacinek and Logan Walker each recorded two hits. 

Forest Lake begins postseason play with an 11 a.m. matchup on Wednesday, July 23, at White Bear Lake High School’s south campus against sixth-seeded Maplewood Green. If Forest Lake wins, they play at the same location on Thursday, July 24 at 5 p.m. If the squad loses, it competes at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 24. 

Magstadt said his Forest Lake boys have as good of a shot as anyone in the postseason, as the tournament title is up for grabs. 

“We still have lulls where we need to stay out of long innings defensively,” Magstadt said. “We have a lot of pitching depth with 5-6 guys. Offensively, we need to do a better job of situational hitting. We’ve got to be able to capitalize and pick up every run we can by taking advantage of chances.”