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Farmington American Legion baseball team finds its balance

South St. Paul didn't field an American Legion baseball team this year. It wouldn't have been an issue, except apparently nobody told Farmington's schedule makers. Which is how the local Legion team found itself waiting Tuesday for a game that was never going to happen.

It was an unexpected break in a season that has gotten off to a slow start. Farmington lost its first two games of the season last week in a doubleheader against Hastings before picking up a win Saturday at Faribault.

Newcomer Nick McIntee played a big role in the first Farmington win of the season. The Randolph resident pitched all seven innings, striking out eight with no walks. He also hit a home run to support his own cause.

McIntee grew up playing sports with Farmington kids before the two school districts ended their cooperative agreement.

"He contributed a lot," said Pierskala, who played high school hockey with McIntee's brother. "It was nice to have him."

The performance against Faribault was an encouraging sign for Pierskala, who called the season's first two games "nothing to write home about." Farmington lost 8-3 and 6-1.

Pierskala blamed the slow start on the long layoff between the end of the varsity season and the start of Legion play.

"For some of those kids, they haven't seen live pitching since the varsity season ended two or three weeks prior to that," he said. "We would have liked to practice more, but it's such a busy time for Farmington seniors and juniors. We just couldn't get it in."

Farmington actually led 2-0 in the first game of the doubleheader before Hastings came back with seven runs in the fourth. Farmington took a 1-0 lead in the second game before Hastings added four runs in the third and fourth innings and another two in the seventh.

Pierskala is still optimistic for the rest of the season. He compared baseball skills to riding a bike, and he figures Farmington's players are just starting to find their balance again.

"I think we're just on the cusp of getting that pedaling going on that bike to where we're going to be very competitive," he said. "The kids are buying back into a kind of blue collar mentality. They're getting their swings back."

Farmington had its next chance to take the training wheels off Wednesday in a nine-inning game against West St. Paul. They will play in a weekend tournament in Grand Rapids.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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