Legion Baseball: Post 54 shakes off slow start, sweeps Faribault
The Red Wing legion baseball team got off to a slow start on Wednesday, literally and figuratively.
Meeting up with Faribault at the Red Wing Athletic Field for a doubleheader, Game 1 started over 20 minutes late as Faribault’s team filed into the dugout. After getting warmed up in the bullpen and on the field beforehand, Post 54 struggled to get back into a rhythm.
But when Red Wing got into a groove, the team was able to dominate Faribault, taking Game 1 4-2, then completing the sweep with an 11-1 five-inning victory in Game 2.
“These guys on the team, they feed off each other,” said Post 54 head coach Justin Plein. “When one guy gets hot, everyone else starts to come on.”
Once the opener got underway, Red Wing’s defense was out of sync, committing two first-inning errors. With two outs in the top of the first, a fielding error by shortstop Michael Bigelbach allowed Tanner Tousignant to reach home to give Faribault a 1-0 advantage.
“It was kind of hard coming out after warming up then sitting around for 30 minutes,” Post 54 pitcher Cody Leitner said of the late start. “It felt a little weird when we finally got out there.”
But while Red Wing started out shaky, Faribault was having its own issues as starting pitcher Austin Bauer walked the first four batters. Post 54 tacked on its first run as Zach Lang reached home on a wild pitch.
After that, the Faribault coaches had seen enough, putting Evan Jensen on the mound. He proceeded to stifle Red Wing’s hitters, holding Post 54 without a hit until the fourth inning.
“(The pitching change) kept us off-balance,” said Red Wing designated hitter/catcher Ricky Turcotte. “We had to go from one extreme to another. We just had to try and adjust.”
Faribault strung together another two-out rally in the top of the second. Mitch Struve reached base after getting hit by a pitch, then Tousignant, the No. 1 hitter, blasted an RBI triple to put Faribault up 2-1.
After the slow start, Post 54’s defense played solid the rest of the way, and Leitner kept Faribault’s hitters at bay, racking up five strikeouts for the complete-game win.
“Cody’s going to make the other team put the ball in play,” Plein said. “He has confidence in his guys, and he’s always there to pick up his teammates. They played pretty smooth defense behind Cody.”
In the third, Red Wing tied the game at 2-2 when Trey Eckstrom scored after Faribault was unable to convert an inning-ending double play.
Red Wing started rolling in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs, Preston Blaney got the rally started with a single, then he raced around the base paths after Faribault committed a throwing error on a Thate Peterson hit. Turcotte followed with a towering RBI double to the left-center gap to score Peterson.
“(Jensen) kind of left one up, and I liked what I saw,” Turcotte said of the double. “The bat did the rest of the work.”
Finishing with four hits in Game 1, Blaney went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored, and Lang was 1-for-3 with a run scored.
After Game 1’s slow start, Red Wing bolted out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning of Game 2. Two Post 54 players reached home when a sharp grounder by Peterson went through the shortstop’s legs. Then a perfectly-timed bunt by Turcotte led to a Faribault throwing error that allowed another pair of runs to score.
“That was all Ricky on his own,” Plein said of the bunt. “He saw the third baseman playing back too far. Their guy tried to make a play and ended up throwing it down the line.”
On the mound, Eckstrom held Faribault to two hits. Tallying eight strikeouts, Eckstrom overcame a shaky fourth inning where he gave up four of his five walks to win in a complete-game outing.
“He really had their guys off-balance,” Plein said of Eckstrom. “Other than (the fourth inning), he had it going on tonight.”
Bigelbach put the game out of reach when he drilled a bases-clearing triple in the bottom of the fourth. Red Wing tacked on three more runs in the fifth to put the 10-run rule into effect.
Lang went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBI, Bigelbach was 2-for-3 and Eckstrom aided his effort on the mound, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Moving to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in district play, Post 54 takes on Hastings Thursday at the Ath.