Legion Baseball: Woodbury wins sub-state championship
BURNSVILLE — It's a simple routine for Adam Mazur.
Before every inning, Tucker Rinehart would throw down to second base and the ball would go around the horn. It would end in Jack Horman's glove at third base.
Horman put the ball in Mazur's glove and before he went to the mound, the two would fist bump with smiles on their faces.
Once Mazur stood on the pitching rubber and looked for the signs from Rinehart, there was a simple nod. Then, Mazur went to work and had a strong defense behind him to back him up.
Woodbury started the game strong and ended the game the same way resulting in a 4-1 win against Apple Valley to become the Sub-State 5 Tournament champions.
"It feels good [to be champions]," Mazur said. "We've been working hard this season to reach this point and being able to accomplish it is a great feeling."
It wasn't just Mazur and the defense that won this game for the Royals, but the opposite side as well with the offense.
It started with an RBI double by Rodney Erickson in the first inning to put Woodbury ahead at the beginning. Then, the biggest hit came in the top of the fourth inning when Brock Rinehart came up to the plate.
Brock Rinehart hit two solid line drives, but just slightly foul. After making it a 3-2 count, he was expecting an off speed pitch. Unexpectedly, a fastball came and Brock Rinehart was able to get his bat around and connect on the ball to drive it to deep right.
Right off the bat, he knew it was gone and so did the rest of the Woodbury players and coaches.
"It felt good coming off the bat," Brock Rinehart said. "I put a little upper cut into the ball and knew it was gone when it went off my bat."
"He was due, so it was great to see," said Woodbury's coach Josh Sharp.
The Royals tacked on a couple more runs in the sixth inning when Brock Rinehart singled in Erickson and Horman scored Mazur to make it a 4-1 lead and a 4-1 final.
Mazur struck out nine batters and allowed only one run in the game. At one point, he threw 26 strikes in a row and got into a rhythm.
"I was able to get ahead in the count early," Mazur said. "Then, I was able to get the batters off balance."
The players and coaches will enjoy and celebrate this win for the next day or so, but will get back to work soon. The tournament may be over, but the season is certainly not.
The Royals will be heading to Edina, Minnesota for the state tournament with all the sub-state champions from Thursday, August 2, to Sunday, August 5.
Woodbury will play Buffalo in the first round of the tournament at 10 a.m. on Thursday, August 2 at the Courtney Fields in Edina, Minnesota. If the Royals win that game, they play at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Courtney Fields and if they lose, they play at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday at the Courtney Fields.
The tournament is double elimination just like sub-state and the teams they face are all champions from across the state.
One thing is for sure for the Woodbury Royals and that is the fact that Sharp will be bringing more watermelons to this tournament.
The last couple of games, Sharp and Ryan Scanlon bought watermelons and give them to the player that earns the winning RBI for the team. On Sunday, that watermelon went to Brock Rinehart for his home run in the fourth.
After the game, Mazur went over to the woods and tossed the watermelon to Brock Rinehart, who shattered it into many small pieces.
"This team has shown that it doesn't matter the seed or who we're playing, we'll always play our best baseball," Brock Rinehart said. "I'm just excited to play that kind of baseball this upcoming weekend at a state."