A Legion baseball fan arriving at Burnsville’s Alimagnet Park Saturday morning asked: “When does Hopkins play next?”
“They don’t,” one of the district directors replied.
Shockingly, the Hopkins team that was ranked No. 1 in Scheels’ Statewide poll, didn’t make it out of pool play. Maple Grove won the title in Pool 1, while Hopkins, Rosemount and the Rochester A’s tied for second place. Hopkins, which had given up too many runs in a 9-2 loss to the Rochester A’s, was the odd team out.
After Hopkins lost to Maple Grove Friday, July 29, the players lingered in the shade just outside the left-field fence. It was a shock to both the Flyers and their fans that their luck was never there in poll play, although they did score an impressive 6-2 win over Rosemount. In that game, shortstop Charlie Schaefer was hot, hitting a triple and a single. Aaron Aune was the winning pitcher with relief help from Gabe Olson. Jack Mausser had two hits for Hopkins.
The Rochester and Maple Grove games were similar, although Hopkins had a great start against Maple Grove with three runs in the first inning on consecutive hits by Schaefer, Mausser, Brock Zimmer and Paul Safranski. Unfortunately for the Flyers, Maple Grove was red hot offensively, pounding out 19 hits.
Wayzata head coach Marshall Dalziel, watching the game from the stands, observed, “Maple Grove hit the ball where the Hopkins fielders weren’t.”
After the Maple Grove game, which ended Hopkins’ 31-10 season, seniors Schaefer and Americo Sculati, weren’t making excuses. Instead, they were focusing on how well the season had gone.
“Maple Grove deserved to win,” Sculati said. “They hit every hole. It’s hard to end the season because I love playing with these guys. Some of us have been together since we were 8 or 9 years old. I wasn’t planning to play Legion this year [as a college freshman], but the coaches convinced me to come back. I am glad I did. It has been a special season.”
“We all wish we could have gone farther,” Schaefer said. “We came out red-hot in the Maple Grove game, but couldn’t follow up on the success we had in the first inning.”
In the last inning against Maple Grove, with a 12-run deficit, Hopkins fought to the end with three hard-hit balls. Jackson View ripped a double down the right field line. Schaefer hit a blistering shot to the left of the shortstop and was thrown out by half a step. Then Pete Johnson, who had won MVP honors in Sub-State 4 the previous week, lined out to second base to end the contest.
“The State Tournament is never easy,” said coach Brodersen, whose Flyers had finished second in the 2021 state and regional tourneys. “We have a lot of great kids, and they are fun to coach.”
Although Hopkins is not advancing to the regional this year, it was, without a doubt, one of the most successful summers in Flyers history.