The Winnebago American Legion Post 82/Blue Earth American Legion Post 89 baseball team picked up two nice pieces of hardware at the State Legion Baseball Tournament in Bird Island last weekend.
First, the local team claimed the Consolation Championship trophy by taking fifth place in the tourney.
Then the team learned they had also won the coveted sportsmanship trophy.
"It was a great weekend," says Coach Steve Sonnicksen. "The boys played some great ball and they also really deserved the sportsmanship award. That was really nice."
The team started off the tourney on Friday, losing 7-4 to Morris. They next played on Saturday and defeated Pine Island 8-5 in extra innings. On Sunday they claimed the consolation trophy by downing BOLD 3-0.
"We were missing a few players," Coach Sonnicksen says. "Two were not able to get to Willmar in time for the check in deadline on Thursday. That meant they couldn't play at all during the weekend. Another two were on vacation including one of our pitchers, Brady Anderson, who was on a trip to Ireland."
Despite being down in numbers, Sonnicksen says the players stepped up and played well.
Here is a rundown of the weekend's games.
Morris 7, W/BE 4
Playing at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, the local squad jumped out to a 3-0 lead, scoring runs in the first and second innings.
But, Morris had one inning where they scored six runs on five hits. They went on to win the game 7-4.
Morris would also go on to take second place in state, losing to La Crescent by one run, 4-3, in the championship game.
Brandyn Olsen pitched the whole game for W/BE.
"It was the first time he had pitched for us in four weeks," Sonnicksen says. "He also pitches for the Pirates. Other than that one inning, he effectively shut down the Morris batters."
The local team was only out hit 10-8, but all eight hits were singles. Olsen and Carter Hanson had two hits each.
W/BE 8, Pine Island 5
The local Legion team defeated Pine Island by a score of 8-5 in a 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning game that went to eight innings.
W/BE scored a run in the top of the sixth to take a big 5-2 lead, but Pine Island came back to score three in the bottom of the sixth to tie it up.
Neither team could score in the seventh, but W/BE had their chance with runners on base before a double play ended the inning.
Then in the top of the eighth, Christian Haugh hit a three-run homer well over the 342 foot sign in the outfield.
That gave the local boys an 8-5 lead. Pine Island threatened in their half of the inning, but W/BE shut them down.
Quinn Huisman went all eight innings, giving up the five runs on six hits, striking out three, walking two and hitting three batters.
"Quinn had a consistent game, even though this was the most runs he had given up in a long time," Sonnicksen says. "He gets the ball across the plate and lets his defense make the plays."
Haugh lead the hitting with three hits including the game-winning home run. Brandyn Olsen also had three hits.
David Franta had two hits including a triple, while Seth Anderson added a double. Dallas Barslou and Alex Stewart each had a hit in the game.
W/BE 3, BOLD 0
The local Legion team shut down the high-powered BOLD Legion team 3-0 on Sunday to claim the consolation trophy.
"These same guys (BOLD players) won the Class 1A high school baseball championship this year," Sonnicksen says. "We held them scoreless and they never advanced a runner past second base."
Dallas Barslou pitched the complete game shut out, allowing just five hits, striking out three, walking one and hitting one batter.
W/BE scored one of their runs in the first inning, another in the fifth and the third one in the sixth.
David Franta led the hitting barrage with three hits and scored two of the three runs.
Brandyn Olsen and Seth Anderson each had two hits, one of them a double. Carter Hanson also had two hits.
Barslou and Luke Schavey each had a hit in the game.
"This was a well-played game for us," Sonnicksen says. "The boys played solid defense. Dallas gave us a chance in the game and we made the plays to win it."
La Crescent won the state, with Morris second. Providence Academy was third, defeating Taconite.
The weekend tournament started with a banquet on Thursday with former Minnesota Twins player Tim Laudner as the speaker.
"Actually, former Twins pitcher Kevin Tapani is an assistant coach at Providence Academy, so he also spoke at the banquet," Sonnicksen says. "And his son plays on the team and was named the MVP of the tourney."
All in all it was a terrific ending to a great season, Sonnicksen says.
"Everyone who played for us played well," he says. "Our pitching the whole weekend was great. And we made the other team earn a base our defense lined up well."
Looking ahead to next year, the coach thinks the team will do well again.
They lose just a couple of the key players, including Barslou, Hanson and Brady Anderson.
"Next year's state tournament is in Luverne," the coach notes. "And, who knows, maybe we can get there again."