Anoka christened Castle Field with a Legion Post 102 alumni game July 3.
The game featured the current 18-man roster along with 32 former players for a maroon versus white exhibition game. Maroon took the win 9-6 as many memories were made at the brand-new baseball complex.
“It was fantastic … a great evening for baseball too,” current Legion coach Dave Steinbring said of the event that brought out so many former Legion players.
While most of the alumni last wore the Post 102 uniform within the last five years, Doug Germanson (1969) and Jim Lundeen stepped up to the plate. Lundeen has been a big supporter of baseball in Anoka through his work with the Anoka Bucs amateur baseball team and building Castle Field.
Steinbring hopes the alumni game will become a yearly tradition after such a positive response.
After multiple sub-.500 seasons, Post 102 fans have many reasons to cheer, most notably for its 10-7 record after the first week of July.
Granted, the team has several tough games left on the schedule, including Coon Rapids Post 334 and the Gopher Classic (Totino-Grace, Hopkins and Holy Angels) before sub-state and state tournaments.
With a mix of experience and age, Steinbring said his squad has done the little things right with a solid mix of newcomers and veterans.
Post 102 is 4-2 in two tournaments, including a four-game split (2-2) at the Red Haddox Wooden Bat Classic in Bloomington.
Steinbring said the new Castle Field used some similar ideas from the Bloomington complex when it came to design.
Anoka pitcher Evan Rowe went the distance in a 2-1 win against Bloomington Gold. “He’s one of our guys who is nice and steady on the mound,” Steinbring said about Rowe, who is looking to walk on to the Bemidji State baseball team in the fall.
“We don’t have a lot of bullpen guys, but he’s one of them.”
The other win came against Mankato 13-4. Despite the wooden bat, Anoka found ways to string hits together as Jason Brumbaugh had a three-run double and Lance LaBaron went two-for-three at the plate.
Anoka also took part in the Duluth Lakeview Post 342 tournament, winning both games against Arcade Phalen (St. Paul) and Cloquet before being eliminated by a tie-breaker after the third pool-round game was canceled due to weather.
Anoka came back from a 9-1 deficit in the second inning against Cloquet to win 10-9. “That was a good test of our intestinal fortitude,” Steinbring.
Anoka pecked away at the lead with base hits and bunts and Cole Drew completed the comeback with a bases-loaded double to take the lead in the sixth inning.
Ryan Sutterer, who plans to join the Northwestern University (St. Paul) squad next season, leads the team with a .563 on-base percentage and .390 batting average. Brumbaugh has a couple homers and is tied with Sutterer for hits, but is one point behind him for the batting title as the team’s designated hitter in addition to some time as catcher.
Cole Drew is the starting catcher with newcomer Titus Bishop being a nice surprise this summer both as a pitcher and back-up catcher.
Steinbring credits Bemidji State prospect Ryan Rumpca with holding the team together, both with his play and maturity after graduating from Anoka High School in 2013.
“He’s really taken on the responsibility now as a veteran leader on the team and his composure is rubbing off on the squad,” Steinbring said.
Rumpca illustrated that in a recent 4-3 win against Park Center, pitching six innings and driving in all four runs.
Post 102 hosted Coon Rapids Post 334 in the first official game played at Castle Field July 11. The game served as the final tune-up before the Gopher Classic, at which Post 334 is the two-time defending champion.
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