Dodging stormy weather and rescheduling games has been the general theme for the Anoka Post 102 Legion baseball team so far this summer.
The team took a road trip for the first time in eight years earlier in June and because of rain and two larger tournaments, only played one game in what turned out to be a team-bonding experience to Missouri.
Anoka lost the lone game 8-1 to West O’Fallon, Missouri that sent a Division I college pitcher from Kansas to the mound that frustrated the Post 102 bats. “It was a great experience and opportunity for us to play top-notch baseball,” Steinbring said.
The team drove through rain the next day to reach Quincy, Illinois with a stop in Dyersville, Iowa to see the Field of Dreams set, 25 years after the movie was released.
The game in Quincy was canceled because of a deluge of rain just before game time, so the team returned to the road before stopping in Hannibal, Missouri. They took a tour of the town including the minor league baseball park of the Prospect League’s Hannibal Cavemen.
The journey continued with a stop at Six Flags St. Louis before a Cardinals game.
Steinbring said the team is planning a yearly out-of-state tournament, like Milwaukee, Wisconsin next summer, but will wait a few years before another team road trip.
“I like the idea of getting out there against different competition,” he said.
With the soggy conditions, Post 102 was 5-4 through nine games with the bulk of the schedule left to play.
Anoka was crowned Red Haddox Wooden Bat Tournament champions with a 2-0 record after beating Coon Rapids 4-2 and Owatonna 8-7 June 13 in Bloomington.
Coon Rapids Post 334 led 2-0 on a base hit from Zach Klisch followed by a double from Mike Zimbeck that scored Taylor Croal. Anoka kept the score at 2-1 in the fifth inning as Coon Rapids had runners at second and third base with no outs. They went ground out, line out and pop out to strand the base runners.
Anoka got out of a jam earlier in the contest after leftfielder Brett Bybee made what Steinbring described as a Willie Mays-style catch to end an inning with the bases loaded.
Anoka rallied with two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning and another run in the sixth inning for the final score.
Since that tournament, Post 102 has picked up two extra innings wins and played in a few closer games.
Pitcher Alex Glick has come through with some clutch hits including a two-run home run in a 6-5 win against Osseo in 11 innings June 24. He followed that with a two-run double to help the team beat Ham Lake 7-6 in nine innings at Castle Field. Bybee drove in the game-winning RBI.
Glick has been among the leaders on the pitching staff, along with Titus Bishop and Jacob Lief. Bishop and Lief each have a couple wins along with sophomore Trevor Smith who is being stretched out to a starting pitcher after serving as the main closer for the Tornadoes varsity squad this spring. Smith gave up two hits in a 3-1 loss to Park Center in what Steinbring described as a tidy pitchers duel that took 90 minutes to complete. Smith bats third to add to his impact on the Post 102 team.
Leadoff hitter Aspen Vetter continues to shine at the plate while splitting time between shortstop and center field.
Look for Bybee to shift to center field and Vetter to move to shortstop to strengthen the defensive alignment even more as the busiest stretch of the season is still to come, including the Paul Hanus Gopher State Classic at Benilde-St. Margaret’s July 11-14. District playoffs are July 24-27 with the state tournament August 1-4
Post 102 hosted an alumni game for the second year at Castle Field July 3. Steinbring said the response after last summer’s game was overwhelming and made the idea for an annual event a reality. Doug Germainson, a member of Anoka’s 1969 team, had two hits against a pitcher who threw heat in his third at-bat.
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