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Legion baseball: Post 189 gets noticed in Grand Rapids

A collection of players who spent the spring season playing anywhere from varsity, to JV and even freshman ball came together last weekend to earn the Farmington Legion team some attention at the Grand Rapids Tournament.

Post 189 won four out of six games, including two over teams ranked in the top 10 in the state, as it finished second out of 10 teams in action at Portage Park in Cohasset, just down the road from Grand Rapids. Both losses came to Alexandria, a 4-2 setback in pool play and a 5-4 loss in the championship game.

"The kids used this as a chance to go out and compete and put Farmington on the map," Farmington coach Andy Pierskalla said. "I think we opened a lot of eyes. The Grand Rapids coach said he hoped to see us at state. That's a bit down the road, but we did show that we can play with anybody. The kids came together and played well. It was fun to watch."

With players missing to attend a football camp in South Dakota, Post 189 turned to four players from the VFW team to fill out its roster. Austin Martinsen, JD Hinks, Parker Holmstrom and Bobby Eckert all made contributions as the team played six games in a span of just over 48 hours.

"They performed great. They were great extra pieces to our team. We needed the extra pitching and we couldn't have done it without them," Pierskalla said. "Our defense was phenomenal, I don't think we had more than four errors all tournament, and we got a lot of timely hits with two outs. It all fell into place."

Post 189 opened with a 5-0 blanking of St. Michael-Albertville in the first game of pool play Friday. Nick McIntee went the distance, allowing just two hits and walking one while striking out seven. He pitched with a 1-0 lead until the seventh when Jake Baskerville singled, stole a base and scored for the second time in the game as part of a four-run inning.

It took another four-run rally, this time in the fifth inning, for Farmington to steal an 8-7 victory from Centennial in their second game Friday night.

Jared Lipinski and Marty Rivera singled to start the fifth before Baskerville came through with a two-out RBI single. McIntee and Spencer Merle each reached on errors that scored two more runs to give Farmington the lead.

Merle started on the mound and gave up six runs before Isaac Toenjes came in and got the win with 3 2/3 innings of shutout relief.

Post 189 lost to Alexandria 4-2 in its first game on Saturday, setting up a showdown with fellow 2-1 team Hill-Murray in what amounted to a pool play championship game Saturday night.

Post 189 once again found itself trailing 6-3 in the fifth, but a five-run fifth paved the way for a 10-6 win over state-ranked Hill-Murray.

Baskerville started the fifth with a single. Merle followed with a walk and a McIntee single loaded the bases for Nick Newman, who came through with an RBI single. Zach Huber added a two-run single and Rivera an RBI single to make it 8-6.

Hill-Murray loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fifth against starter JD Hinks, but Holmstrom came out of the bullpen to halt the rally. He induced a lineout for the first out, and then a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning.

Kyle Mayer and Huber added RBI hits in the sixth to provide a pair of insurance runs and Huber worked a scoreless sixth before the game was called due to lightning.

Having thrown just 20 pitched the night before, Holmstrom returned to the mound in Sunday's semifinals and pitched a gem. He held state-ranked North St. Paul to two runs over seven innings as Post 189 advanced to the championship game with a 3-2 victory.

North St. Paul held a 2-0 lead heading into the sixth before Post 192 reeled off three singles, including one by Mayer that tied the game at 2-2.

Soon after, McIntee walked the Tigers off and send them to the championship game with a base hit to right field in the bottom of the seventh.

Post 189 fell behind 2-0 and never recovered in a 5-4 loss to Alexandria in the championship game.

Martinsen gave up two runs in the first two innings and Toenjes let in three more in the fourth.

Merle, Huber and McIntee each had RBI hits for Farmington.

Post 189 (6-4)was at home Tuesday and Wednesday and is back on the road this afternoon at Northfield.