Thunder finishes its season 18-11
Eastview completed an 18-11 season by winning one of three games in the state American Legion baseball tournament last week.
Excelsior defeated Edina 3-1 in the championship game Sunday in Cold Spring, with both teams advancing to the Central Plains Regional in Sioux Falls, S.D. The regional tournament started Wednesday.
Eastview opened the tournament with a 9-4 victory over the Minneapolis Southwest Lakers on Thursday in Paynesville, taking the lead with a six-run fourth inning. It wasn’t quite as big as the 14-run inning the Thunder had against Prior Lake in the Sub-State 6 final, but it did plenty of damage nonetheless. Brady Schmitz’s two-run single put Eastview in front. Caden Espinda Banick and Parker Hagebock also had run-scoring singles. Zach Selchow drew a bases-loaded walk and the Thunder’s sixth run of the inning scored on a fielder’s choice.
Selchow, Hagebock and Drew Carroll had RBI singles in the sixth inning.
Hagebock was 3-for-4 with two RBI and also was the winning pitcher, working the first 5 1/3 innings. Ben Malloy finished up, allowing no runs and two hits.
Schmitz, Selchow and Carroll also had two RBI each. Owen Dauk and Espinda Banick scored two runs each.
Two-time defending state champion Tri-City Red defeated Eastview 10-2 in a second-round game Thursday. The Thunder took a 1-0 lead after one inning before Tri-City Red scored three in the second and seven in the third.
Dauk scored on an error in the bottom of the first as the Thunder took the lead.
Tri-City took the lead in the third on a two-run single and one-run double. In the third, the first seven Tri-City batters reached base and 13 batters came to the plate.
Eastview’s Zach Miller singled in the fourth inning to drive in his team’s second run. The Thunder had five hits in the game, one each by Miller, Schmitz, Dauk, Espinda Banick and Carroll. Carroll had the only extra-base hit, a leadoff double in the fourth inning.
A 2-1 loss to Buffalo in an elimination game Friday in Paynesville ended the Thunder’s season. Buffalo scored the winning run on a two-out, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the seventh inning. Moments earlier, Thunder center fielder Brian Zurich threw to Selchow, the catcher, to cut off a potential game-winning run.
Eastview tied the game in the top of the seventh on a one-out solo homer by Kyle Nelson. Dauk had a triple in the game, and Schmitz, Espinda Banick, Miller and Zurich had singles.
Pitcher Kathan Decker allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six.
Sixteen of the 18 players on the state champion Excelsior team have completed one year of college and are in their final seasons of Legion eligibility. Nine players on the Edina roster are in college.
Eastview was one of the younger teams in the state tournament with one college player (Ross Cochran) and 11 that have at least one year of high school remaining.
The 2020 state American Legion tournament will be in Burnsville, marking the event’s first visit to Dakota County since 2014, when Eagan was the host city. Burnsville also was the tournament host in 2008.