The 2013 edition of the Jim Hanus Gopher Classic Baseball Tournament was billed as the largest Legion baseball tournament in the country with 90 teams competing at 15 ballparks across the metro.
Coon Rapids Post 334 came into the tournament as the two-time defending champion and the only club with three titles (2007, 2011 and 2012).
After making it through the pool play portion of the tournament through a wild card, Post 334 picked off Burnsville 3-1 in the round of 16 before losing to Eagan in the quarterfinals 7-3 July 15.
Poorly-timed rainfall on the morning of the second day of pool play canceled one if not two games from each division, including Coon Rapids’ game against would-be Apple Valley site champion Yankton, S.D.
Post 334 split its first two games, beating West Fargo 9-2 before losing to Mankato National 5-4.
Post 334 won the final two games of pool play against Rosetown 7-0 and Apple Valley 7-1, separated by 25 minutes July 14.
Despite going 3-1 in pool play, Coon Rapids believed its run for a third title was over. But the squad found out late Sunday evening that it remained alive in the tournament thanks to a wild card spot.
Luke Jorgensen pitched five innings against Rosetown before Jake Bruner worked out of a bases-loaded situation with only one out to preserve the shutout. Bruner finished off the game and turned around 25 minutes later to toss seven innings for the win against Apple Valley.
Grant Farley got it done in the field and at the plate against Rosetown. He had three doubles, drove in one run and scored twice. In left field, Farley caught a deep fly ball before throwing out the would-be scorer at home plate. Catcher Anthony Mrosla held on to the ball and applied the tag for the out.
Andover, playing at the Eagan site, wasn’t so fortunate as it opened with a 2-1 win against East Ridge only to drop three straight games, ending with a 12-4 loss to site champion Eagan July 14.
Harrison Siddons earned the win against East Ridge in what turned out to be a pitchers duel.
Andover coach Joe Boyce said it was great to have Siddons back on the mound for the first time since a 3-1 opening day loss to Osseo June 11. Siddons reached out to catch a come-backer with his pitching hand that resulted in an injury.
“He’s done a really great job with his control,” Boyce said about Siddons.
The relatively young group is still working through consistency issues, he said.
“We turnaround and beat St. Anthony 15-1 with 18 hits and three home runs so they can produce a ton of hits but then go hitless,” Boyce said about the July 15 game against league foe St. Anthony, where Alex Kenney and Derek Walton continued to pace the bats.
With nearly a dozen seniors primed for next summer, Boyce feels 2014 should be a successful time for the club with three to four soon-to-be juniors adding to the mix.
Anoka Post 102 couldn’t break through from the Hopkins site, despite going 2-2.
Post 102 began the tournament with a 10-2 loss against Fridley Gold Eagle followed by an 11-10 loss to Chaska July 12. Anoka’s game against Team Saskatchewan was the only game canceled because of rain.
After not playing the rest of Saturday, Anoka regrouped to score 27 runs in two wins July 14. Post 102 came out on top in a shoot out against Hopkins 15-11 before handing Academy of Stars a 12-2 loss in seven innings.
Despite the barrage of hits, it wasn’t enough to reach the next round as Chaska and Fridley finished one and two in the standings.