Legion Baseball: Post 54 swept by Chanhassen
Red Wing is in a slump but an opportunity to turn things around arose Monday night in a doubleheader against Chanhassen at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
After losing Game 1 badly, Post 54 clawed its way back from a 6-1 deficit in Game 2. The bases were loaded with two outs but a groundout ended the comeback attempt as Red Wing was swept with a 9-8 loss in the nightcap. Post 54 head coach Justin Plein said he still hopes this is a step in the right direction.
“We’ve been scuffling here the last two weeks,” he said. “After the last week and a half … we talked about having confidence in ourselves that we can come back. It was really nice to see that (we can come back).”
Chanhassen’s Nathan Self attacked Red Wing’s hitters in Game 1, allowing just two hits and one walk in five innings to pick up the win. He struck out six and hit one batter as Chanhassen won 11-0 in six innings.
Chanhassen’s offense got going immediately against Post 54’s Tristan Van Stone, tallying eight hits and five runs in the first two innings.
“They got on Tristan early,” Plein said. “Their guy had us off-balance a little bit; we didn’t get a hit there for a while. We were kind of looking for someone else to step up, not taking it upon themselves.”
In the top of the fourth inning, Plein made a pitching change, going with Cam Voigt but Chanhassen remained patient. Voigt walked three and Chanhassen picked up two singles with runners in scoring position to go up 8-0.
Red Wing’s first hit came via a leadoff double by Ricky Turcotte in the bottom of the fourth inning but he was stranded at third base. Post 54 got its second and final hit on a single from Josh Gadient in the fifth inning before Chanhassen added three more runs in the sixth inning to end the first game an inning early.
“They were a good hitting team, they put the ball in play,” Turcotte said. “A few of our pitchers missed spots and left it an inch or two too high.”
Game 2 started a little better for Red Wing as Marcus Leach kept Chanhassen scoreless in the opening frame. Austin Strand led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and came around to score on an RBI-groundout by Michael Bigelbach for a 1-0 lead.
But Chanhassen answered back with two unearned runs in the second inning for a 2-1 lead.
Another unearned run came across in the third inning as Chanhassen scored four runs (two earned) on two runs and two walks in the frame.
“We shot ourselves in the foot,” Plein said. “We just have to clean up those things, those easy, routine plays we have got to be able to make.”
With a chance to bury Post 54, Chanhassen relaxed in the bottom of the third inning. Eckstrom led off with a double and after he advanced to third on a groundout to the first baseman, Turcotte walked, Voigt walked and Gunnar Tubbs hit a hard groundball that was misplayed at short stop, allowing Eckstrom to score. Then, Gadient grounded out to first for another run and Nic Plein hit a ball down the third baseline with the ensuing throw pulling the first baseman off the bag for another run. Red Wing pulled within 6-5 with four runs in the inning on only one hit.
Post 54 tied the game in the bottom of the fifth inning as Voigt hit a leadoff single, was moved to second on a bunt by Gunnar Tubbs and came home two batters later on a single by Nic Plein.
Again, Chanhassen had a response. Zach Elder singled with one out in the sixth inning, followed by a single from Tommy Jobin and an error by Red Wing that allowed a run to score. Then, Jake Hokanson put Chanhassen ahead 9-6 on a two-RBI single. Eckstrom struck out the final two batters of the inning and struck out five in 1 2/3 innings of relief in Game 2. He also finished 1-for-4 with a double, an RBI and a run scored at the plate.
Chanhassen made a pitching change in the bottom of the seventh inning and it nearly proved costly. Charlie Jensen walked the first batter he faced and after a strikeout, he walked two more to load the bases with one out. After another strikeout, Jensen walked two more as Post 54 had the bases loaded with two outs and a 9-8 deficit. But Red Wing came up just short as Nick Smith relieved Jensen and despite falling behind 3-1 in the count, coaxed a groundout to second base to record the save.
“We can hopefully use this … to know that if we get behind early, don’t just sit there and wait,” Justin Plein said. “Go out there and make something happen.”
Post 54 had just six hits in the doubleheader. Turcotte went 1-for-3 with a double in the first game and 0-3 with a walk and a run scored in Game 2. Gadient was 1-for-2 in Game 1 and 0-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored in the second game.
Jobin led Chanhassen, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI in Game 1 and 2-for-4 with two runs scored in Game 2. Smith finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored in Game 1 but did not play in the field in the second game.
Red Wing (7-8) will play again Thursday on the road against South St. Paul. The doubleheader on Thursday will be part of a six-game stretch in five days for Post 54. It will be an important set of games as Red Wing tries to shake off a 2-8 record since June 24.
“We’ve been kind of in a little rut here,” Turcotte said. “It’s just a matter of making the key plays and focusing every play. We’ve just got to come prepared and ready to play fundamentals. Just do the fundamentals and hope for the rest to come to us.”