Legion baseball: Post 189 wins three at Gopher Classic
The Farmington Legion baseball team had its best-ever showing over the weekend at the Gopher Classic, going 3-2 in pool play at the 96-team tournament.
Post 189, which had never won more than one game at the country’s largest Legion baseball tournament, beat Oakdale, St. Paul Hamline Purple and Sioux Falls Post 307 over the weekend to tie for second out of six teams in their pool in Chanhassen.
“I think the biggest thing was just having played in it before. It’s our third year, so our seniors and juniors have played in it,” Farmington coach Jared Rowan said. “The wow factor was kind of gone and they just showed up and played baseball, had good at bats and in the games we won our pitchers threw really well.”
Post 189 (7-8) opened tournament play with an 8-1 win over Oakdale Friday afternoon. Half of those eight runs came in the fourth, an inning highlighted by Bobby Eckert’s two-run homer.
Parker Holmstrom allowed a run in the first, but settled in and blanked Oakdale over the final five innings.
“Any time we put Parker out there as coaches we feel confident and the players are confident too,” Rowan said. “He got us off on the right foot. He was a little nervous in the first inning with some college coaches watching, but he completely shut them down after the first.”
After an 11-0 loss to Chanhassen in Game 2 on Friday, Farmington came back and beat St. Paul Hamline Purple 8-7 on Saturday morning. Post 189 jumped out to an 8-1 lead, but St. Paul chipped away and got the tying and go-ahead runs on in the seventh before reliever Carter Blomster induced an infield pop up to end the game.
Starter Austin Martinsen pitched six innings and got the win.
Johnny Dittman led the team with three hits and Holmstrom and Ryan Giebel added two apiece.
“Johnny brought his bat this weekend,” Rowan said. “This was a nice win against a good team. It wasn’t how you draw it up, but we’ll take it.”
Post 189 turned around and played eventual pool champion Omaha Millard West in their second game Saturday and were dealt a 20-0 loss.
“They hit the crap out of the ball and we ran out of pitching. We were down 6-0 and made the decision to save our last pitcher for Sunday’s game and try to win that one,” Rowan said. “They had four future Division I guys, so they were a good team.”
Blomster returned to the mound for Sunday’s tournament finale against Sioux Falls Post 307 and picked up the compete-game win in an 8-4 victory.
“He just needed to go in and throw strikes and he did,” Rowan said. “He only struck out two guys all day, but he threw strikes and we played good defense behind him.”
Post 189 broke a 4-4 tie with four runs in the top of the seventh. Johnny Dittman brought in Holmstrom with the go-ahead run with an RBI triple and Eckert and Nate Kraml followed with RBI hits.
Dittman was 4 for 4 and Holmstrom supplied three more hits.
Post 189 played home games Monday and Tuesday and closes out the regular season back at Chanhassen this afternoon. The Legion playoffs begin next week in Apple Valley and Burnsville.