Local teams stand out in senior baseball tourney

Chris Reese of the Apple Valley A's scores on a wild pitch during a game against Verndale at the Minnesota Senior Men's Baseball Association state tournament. 

Burnsville wins Class AA title; Rosemount, Apple Valley place in Class A

Local teams were prominent during the final weekend of the Minnesota Senior Men’s Baseball Association state tournament.

The Burnsville Bulldogs defeated the Mankato Twins 6-2 on Aug. 25 in Jordan for the Class AA championship in the tournament’s top bracket. The Rosemount Pipers were runners-up in Class A, losing to the Becker Buzzards 12-2 in their final game at Belle Plaine. The Apple Valley A’s finished third in Class A, defeating the Verndale Geezers 8-3 in their final game.

Twenty-eight teams advanced to the MSMBA state tourney, which is for players 35 and older. The Minnetonka Lakers were the No. 1 seed. Burnsville was seeded fourth, Apple Valley 14th and Rosemount 16th.

Burnsville’s state title is the Bulldogs’ first since 2012. They had been in three state tournament championship games from 2013 to 2018, losing all three.

Joshua Loewen pitched the first five innings of this year’s title game, holding Mankato to two runs on six hits. He earned his third victory in four games over the two-weekend tournament. Corey Tauer pitched the final two innings, earning a save.

Burnsville’s Jon Marsden and Tim Thoreson combined to reach base in all seven of their plate appearances in the championship game. Jay Tauer, the Bulldogs’ 54-year-old second baseman, had two hits.

Loewen pitched a complete game as Burnsville defeated No. 1-seeded Minnetonka 6-1 in the Class AA semifinals Aug. 24. Bob Walfoort hit a two-run homer.

Loewen pitched all 10 innings as Burnsville defeated the Menahga Relics 6-5 in a second-round game Aug. 18 in Belle Plaine. Walfoort was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 10th, scoring Chris Freeman with the winning run.

Rosemount, the 2017 Class AA champion, opened the 2019 tournament with a 5-4 loss to No. 1-seeded Minnetonka. That sent the Pipers to the Class A bracket, where they defeated Prior Lake 12-1 and Verndale 6-2 before losing to Becker in the final.

Apple Valley’s 35-and-over team took third place with a 9-3 win over Verndale on Aug. 25.

The A’s managed eight hits, including a double and triple, and took advantage of five walks and five wild pitches. Apple Valley started strong, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Verndale came back with a pair of runs in the third to make it 3-2. The A’s pulled away with two runs in the fourth inning, a run each in the fifth and sixth, and two more in the seventh.

Shortstop Matt Stangl led the A’s at the plate going 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and three runs scored. Center fielder Paul Bissonette was 2-for-3 with a triple and right fielder Josh Stoll went 1-for-3 with two runs scored in the win. Second baseman Bryan Cogswell and catcher Chris Reese added to the attack for the A’s, with Cogswell going 2-for-3 with a run scored and Reese going 1-for-2 with two stolen bases and a run scored. Shaun Lindquist rounded out the hitting going 1-for-3.

Nate Bren pitched a complete game for the A’s, scattering nine hits with two strikeouts and only one walk to gain his second complete-game victory of the tournament.

“It was a great way to end the season,” said A’s infielder Bob Stefani. “We overcame some hard losses and a few injuries in the last few weeks, but we closed out strong and are really looking forward to next year.”

Apple Valley, the 2018 Class B champion, lost to the third-seeded St. Louis Park Cardinals 4-3 in the first round and moved to the Class A bracket. The A’s then defeated Minneapolis 7-2 in the Class A quarterfinals, avenging an earlier regular season loss to the Bombers. Becker defeated Apple Valley 3-2 in the semifinals.

The A’s roster includes 70-year-old Don Cogswell, who was recognized as the state tournament’s oldest player.

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