Legion baseball season ends at state tournament

By Bruce Karnick
Posted 8/4/23

The American Legion Post 47 baseball team was very busy last week, starting with a huge sendoff for the state tournament on Wednesday followed by the state banquet for all the teams and culminating …

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Legion baseball season ends at state tournament


The American Legion Post 47 baseball team was very busy last week, starting with a huge sendoff for the state tournament on Wednesday followed by the state banquet for all the teams and culminating with three pool play games before their season ended at the hands of Sartell.

Wednesday, the team had a sendoff from the lot of the American Legion downtown where they were greeted by friends, family and fans before they boarded their Minnesota Coaches coach bus for the weekend. The festivities of the state tournament continued on Wednesday when players and coaches were treated to a catered dinner and program outlining the expectations and format for the weekend.

Thursday kicked off the games with Hastings taking on Wayzata for the 1:00 p.m. game and then jumping right back into it against Duluth at 3:30. Back-to-back games can be tiresome on their own but throw in 95-degree heat on a mostly sunny day and it gets downright exhausting, even for seven inning games.

The Hastings Journal was the only local media on site to cover the first two games for the Raiders, so we opted to live stream the games the best we could last minute via our Facebook page with yours truly on the call. It was a very fun afternoon despite the heat. The players and fans were ready to enjoy some exciting baseball between a variety of very talented teams of these young men.

During the Wayzata game, Hastings jumped out to a three-run lead in the first, with eight Raider batters coming to the plate. Blake Vandehoef singled, Jack Seleski walked, Tanner Anselment laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to advance the runners but beat the throw to earn a bunt single and Johnny Teigland was hit by pitch scoring the first Raider run. Connor Zgoda hit a single to score Seleski and the Raiders were up 2-0 with one out. Mark DeNoyer popped out to second and then a wild pitch to Gavin Odman scored Anselment before Odman hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

Wayzata scored two in the top of the second, but Hastings earned the two back in the bottom of the third when Odman hit a single to right to score Teigland and Sawyer Tjomsland hit a single to left to score Zgoda.

In the fourth, Wayzata narrowed the Raider gap by one, but Hastings had a huge bottom of the fourth to go up 9-3. Seleski and Anselment walked to lead off the inning. Teigland struck out and then Jarod Neuville was dealt a wild pitch to score Seleski before he walked to put two on the bases. Zgoda popped up to the third baseman in foul territory and that brought DeNoyer to the plate.

During the call of the first game, a Nostradamus like call was made regarding DeNoyer’s at bat. The kid has a fast, hard swing and he has the power to put the ball over the fence and the fourth pitch he saw, he did just that. A monstrous shot over the centerfield wall at 375 feet, a shot that would have cleared the deep fences of Veterans Park in Hastings at 393 feet. It might have even made it over the 404-foot wall at Target Field it was that well hit.

Wayzata did cut into the lead, but the game finished 9-6 giving Hastings their first win of pool play.

Game two against Duluth was a bit more exciting. Duluth was the home team and they dropped three on the Raiders in the bottom of the first to take a 3-0 lead, but Hastings tied it right back up in the top of the second. Zgoda led off with a single to right, DeNoyer walked, and Odman singled to right to load the bases. Tjomsland hit a two run double to center for the first two runs to score which also put Odman at third. With runners on the corners, Hastings opted for the delayed steal which worked to perfection, scoring Odman and tying the game 3-3.

Hastings added one to take the lead in the top of the third thanks to a single by Anselment with a two-base throwing error that set up Teigland for the sacrifice fly. Duluth fought back and retook the lead 6-4 in the bottom of the fourth and Hastings chipped away scoring one in the fifth and two in the sixth.

Seleski crushed a flyball to left and it looked as though the left fielder had a clean out when he dropped the fly ball giving a two-base error to Seleski. A wild pitch moved Seleski to third and Teigland’s double scored Seleski to make it 7-5.

In the sixth, Aaron Vandehoef hit a single to left and a double by Odman put runners at second and third with one out. Tjomsland was hit by pitch loading the bases and Seleski crushed a two-run single to center to give the Raiders the lead and eventual win 7-6.

With the back-to-back wins for Hastings, the boys and their families went to celebrate at Buffalo Wild Wings before returning to their Rochester hotel to prep for Friday’s game.

Because of the tiebreakers for pool play, Friday’s game became a win or go home scenario. Everyone beat Duluth, Hastings beat Wayzata, Wayzata beat Sartell and the final game of the day was Hastings versus Sartell. A win put Hastings 3-0 and Sartell 1-2 in pool play. A loss meant Wayzata, Sartell and Hastings were 2-1 in pool play and Hastings would be the odd man out because of the first tie breaker being total runs allowed.

Hastings had the 1-0 lead after two innings, but two key errors allowed a huge seven run inning for Sartell. Hastings did not give up fighting to the very end where they fell 9-7 ending their season despite outscoring opponents in pool play 23-20.

Summer baseball for high school players and graduating seniors is sponsored by the Hastings American Legion and the Hastings VFW. Both organizations donate a significant amount of money to support the equivalent of varsity and junior varsity level teams which allows the further development of the team’s skills as baseball players as well as life experiences off the field. Make sure to thank them for supporting baseball for our Raiders each summer.

A shout out needs to be given to parent Karie Gillespie. Karie jumped in and snagged the camera to take pictures while I did the play by play of the first two games. Many other parents helped Thursday with moving equipment, sharing shade, positioning the camera and providing much needed hydration. It truly takes a village to make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time at these tournaments. This group of parents exemplifies the #WE mentality that Coach Ryan Seleski explains as ‘everyone contributes to the success of this team’.