Legion Baseball: Post 54 drops opening game of playoffsWith each hit batter and walk issued it was a wonder how Inver Grove Heights’ starting pitcher Brody Shintz remained in the game against Red Wing Wednesday at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
With each hit batter and walk issued it was a wonder how Inver Grove Heights’ starting pitcher Brody Shintz remained in the game against Red Wing Wednesday at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
Shintz walked six and hit three batters in 8 2/3 innings but he also struck out eight as Inver Grove Heights held on to defeat Post 54, 6-5 during the first round of the Third District American Legion playoffs.
“He was effectively wild,” Red Wing catcher David Goggin said. “He threw pretty hard and his ball ran a little bit. … We just couldn’t figure him out.”
Shintz allowed four runs on three hits.
Joel Newman led Post 54 (14-3, 10-2), going 2-for-4 with two runs scored but fourth-seeded Red Wing tallied just four hits in the nine-inning loss.
All playoff games are nine innings.
Logan Busch was 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI while Sam Stensgard went 3-for-4 with two runs scored to lead 12th-seeded Inver Grove Heights.
The game was scoreless for the first two innings before Post 54 used its patience, and only one hit, to take a 3-0 lead in the third inning. Erin Foley was hit by a pitch leading off, Newman singled with one out and Goggin walked to load the bases. Shintz proceeded to balk in Foley, Newman scored on a wild pitch and Goggin stole home as the catcher tossed the ball back to Shintz without paying attention to Goggin halfway down the baseline.
“(Shintz) was kind of all over the place,” Red Wing head coach Justin Plein said. “Our guys went up there trying to be patient.”
But Post 54’s patience turned into lethargy.
Zach Garner started on the mound for Post 54 and pitched well through the first three innings but after being handed a 3-0 lead he fought through a tough fourth inning, needing two strikeouts with the bases loaded and one out to escape the jam.
“He didn’t look himself,” Goggin said. “His fastball was running on him more than usual. His location was just a little bit off today.”
Inver Grove Heights (21-8, 10-6) took advantage in the fifth inning, getting a leadoff single from Stensgard, a sacrifice bunt by Luke Barry and a run scoring single from Zach Rivera to cut the deficit to 3-1. Then, Busch uncorked a two-run home run over the right-field fence to tie the game at 3-3.
At that point, the energy seemed to be sapped out of Red Wing. Post 54 didn’t muster another hit until the eighth inning.
“We were pretty dead those middle innings,” Plein said. “We weren’t playing Red Wing baseball the way we’ve been playing all year.”
Inver Grove Heights scored three more runs in the seventh inning to knock Garner out of the game and take a 6-3 lead it wouldn’t let go.
Garner allowed five runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out four in six innings. He faced two hitters in the seventh inning.
Red Wing made a habit of comeback wins this season and it looked like Post 54 might get another with two runs in the eighth inning but a pop up stranded the bases loaded to end the rally.
Goggin had Red Wing’s only hit in the ninth inning as Rivera secured the save, pitching the final 1 1/3 innings. Goggin finished 1-for-4.
“We got a little too comfortable with coming back,” Goggin said. “But we can’t wait.”
Now, Post 54 will need to win its way back through the loser’s bracket to keep this season going. Goggin said Plein asked the team to focus on each team as a stepping block rather than looking at all the wins needed to make the state tournament.
“He told us we have to look at whose season are we ending next,” Goggin said. “That hit home. That’s perfect for the situation we are in now.”
Red Wing will play the loser of Lakeville North and St. Paul Park Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Red Wing Athletic Field.