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Legion Baseball: American Legion Post 39 at 39th Grand Rapids baseball tournament
Following a pair of wins in doubleheader action at Kuenkel Field in North St. Paul, the North St. Paul American Legion Post 39 baseball team headed up north to participate in the 39th Annual Grand Rapids Tournament.
Edina 4 - North St. Paul 0
The first day, Friday, June 20, the 39ers split a pair of games. In the opener the locals dropped a 4-0 contest to the Edina West Enders.
The 39ers' bats were all but silenced as they mustered only two hits, both by Steve Orme. The left-handed swinging first baseman singled in the second and fourth innings.
North St. Paul 5 - New Ulm 0
In the second game June 20, the 39ers didn't fare much better in the hitting department, but they were able to take advantage of the four safeties plus timely walks and three errors made by the New Ulm Gold.
In the last of the second Orme banged a leadoff line shot into left field. Jake McDonough cracked a hard-hit ball to the right side that was booted. Orme tore to third.
Brendon Herold followed with a single into right field that plated Orme with what turned out to be the game-winning run and pushed McDonough to third.
A ground out roller off the bat of Dylan Foote plated McDonough with the 2-0 count.
In their half of the third the 39ers completed the scoring. Sam Blees was hit by a pitch. Joe Messerole followed with a single to right sending Blees to third.
The pair then worked a successful double steal with Blees coming home and Messerole ending up on third. Orme then walked, putting runners on the corners. A throwing error sent Messerole home while Orme made his way to third on the play. McDonough then slapped a grounder to the left side and Orme scored North St. Paul's fifth run.
North St. Paul 7 - Bemidji 6
The 39ers entered day two of the tournament with a game against the Bemidji Bears. Despite being outhit 14-7 and behind 5-1 at the end of six innings, the 39ers staged a colorful comeback to win in eight innings by 7-6.
North St. Paul also took advantage of the five errors made by the Bears.
The exciting comeback featured a five-run seventh inning. The 39ers finished it in the upper eighth on a double off the center-field fence by Orme. He moved to third on a passed ball. Sam Farley cracked a long fly to deep center and Orme trotted home after the catch.
In the bottom of the seventh the Bears put two runners on the base paths, but a strikeout by relief hurler Zach Lauzon ended the threat.
The 39ers moved to a 1-0 edge in the upper fourth when Farley scored.
Bemidji got a run in the fifth and moved to a 5-1 margin with four runs in the bottom of the sixth.
In the upper seventh the 39ers began their comeback. Orme led off with a grounder up the middle. Farley doubled to put runners at third and second. McDonough was hit by a pitch to load the bases with no outs.
Elvin Baez walked to score Orme. Jack Murnane lofted a fly and Farley came home after the tag at third.
Hildebrandt knocked a slow roller to the left side and beat the peg as McDonough scored. Herold doubled to center field as both Baez and Hildebrandt crossed home giving the 39ers a 6-5 margin heading into the last of the seventh.
Bemidji scored in the bottom of the seventh after the lone error by the 39ers and with the score level at 6-6 they headed to extra innings.
Then came the winning run by Orme in the top of the eighth and the 39ers claimed the victory.
North St. Paul 8 - Elk River 1
Batting first in the game against the Elks, the 39ers put what turned out to be the game-winner on the board in their half of the second inning.
They went on to score runs in all but two of the seven innings it took to post the third win in the tournament.
Though outhit by 9-8, the 39ers made the most of their safeties and Nate Rubbelke on the mound went the distance to pick up the win.
In the top of the first Blees singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, stole third and came home on a slow roller to the right side.
In the second Herold sliced a one-out triple. Gus Varland suicide bunted and Herold came home with what turned out to be the game-winner.
The top of the third Bram Minser led off with a single and came home on a double off the bat of Hildebrandt to run the count to 3-0.
The game moved to the top of the fifth and the 39ers doubled their count. Foote, Minser and Messerole all touched home pushing the 39ers to a 6-0 margin.
In the upper seventh North St. Paul added two more runs. Minser - he was 2-for-3 - led off with a walk. Baez then banged a one-hop double off the right centerfield fence, and Minser raced home as Baez moved to third. A ground out to shortstop allowed Baez to score the 39ers eighth run.
The Elks put their lone run on the board in the bottom of the seventh but it proved to be too little too late as the 39ers claimed the 8-1 triumph.
North St. Paul 3 - Fridley Gold 2
In the fifth and final game of the tournament, June 22 and by the luck of the seeding, the North St. Paul 39ers ran into well-known foe Fridley Gold.
The Fridley American Legion Post 3 has to feel snake-bitten. Once again they outhit the 39ers - 8-3. Once again they had a lead, and once again the 39ers came from behind to beat them by one run.
In the last of the second inning the Gold picked up two runs. A couple of walks and a pair of hits made for a 2-0 Fridley margin.
In the upper fourth the 39ers struck back for the three-runs they would need to win the game.
Blees led off the inning and worked a four-pitch walk. Messerole followed with a hard-hit ground ball through the right side sending Blees to third. The pair advanced, Blees to home and Messerole to second on a balk.
Orme walked and Farley sacrificed the pair up the paths. Herold knocked a sacrifice fly to score Messerole and Orme went to third.
Mulvaney then thrashed a line shot into left field to plate Orme and the 39ers had the three runs and all they would need for the win.
The triumph for the 39ers was their fourth in the five games of the tournament and pushed their overall record to 11-2. They are 4-0 in District IV league play.
The 39ers are next scheduled to meet Tri-City Red at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 25, at Kuenkel Field. A change may be in the offing about the next opponent, but at a press time a doubleheader was scheduled. A second game may be against Oakdale or against Tri-City Red.
Thursday, June 26 at 6 p.m., the 39ers are scheduled to go up against Hamline Red in a game scheduled for Municipal Stadium.
On June 27, 28 and 29, the 39ers are scheduled to play in a tournament in River Falls.
They return to Kuenkel Field Monday, June 30 at 6 p.m. to face the 3M Post 599 Mapleleafs.
Wally Wakefield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.