Andover’s Legion baseball team won the 1A state championship July 31, capping an impressive season hallmarked by its offensive prowess.
Andover went into the tournament seeded second of 12 teams with a 19-3 record.
“With a plus-85 run differential, teams definitely didn’t want to play us, as our offense averaged eight runs a game and our team ERA was a mere 2.41,” said head coach Parker Janske, who led the Huskies with assistant coaches Kyle Hoppe and Aaron Keeney.
Andover opened the tournament against a strong Prior Lake team, who jumped out with a 4-0 lead in the first inning. But the Huskies battled back to hold Prior Lake and score a 9-4 win. Pitcher Logan Rezac earned the win, giving up six hits in six innings and striking out six batters with four earned runs. Logan Studer led the offence, going two-for-three while batting in three runs. Rezac also went two-for-three.
Andover went on to beat Eagan in the quarter finals 4-2 with the win going to pitcher Ryan Brook. He gave up one earned run and eight hits, with eight strikeouts over seven innings of work. Studer and Kyle Groshong both went two-for-three.
The Huskies went up against the Minnetonka Mud Hens in the semifinal.
“We beat them 3-21 in a pitchers duel,” Janske said. “Our pitcher Evan Engquist threw a great game.”
Over seven innings Engquist had no earned runs and gave up only three hits.
Advancing to the state championship, the Huskies would see a lot more of the Minnesota Mud Hens.
“Because we had not lost a game yet in the state tournament, whoever we played would have to beat us twice,” Janske said.
The Huskies fell to the Mud Hens 5-2 in that first match-up, forcing a second game.
But they came out swinging in that next contest, jumping to an early three-run lead in the first inning.
“However the game was far from smooth sailing,” Janske said.
With ace Logan Rezac on the mound, he gave up three hits and one earned run over six innings, throwing eight strikeouts and 121 pitches.
The Huskies went into the top of the seventh inning clinging to a one-run lead, 3-2. Relief pitcher Simon Stenzel came in to close the game down and got two quick outs, then walked the third batter.
With a runner on first and two outs, the next batter hit a ball into the gap.
“But our left fielder Max Lindstrom made a fantastic play by getting the ball in quick, holding the runners to first and third,” Janske said.
According to Janske, the runner on first stole second on the first pitch, but the next batter was out on a pop-up fielded by catcher Cullen Satrang to end the game and win the state tournament.
“My favorite part about this year’s team was nothing fazed them,” Janske said. “They were ready for any situation they faced and they always attacked adversity head on.”
The coach recognized his team’s ability to pick each other up, “and they were also one rowdy bunch.”
Andover also won tournaments in Coon Rapids and Apple Valley this season.
Ryan Brook paced the pitching staff with 54 innings, 52 strikeouts and a 1.16 ERA.
The team’s top four hitters were Evan Engquist (.500, 23 RBI), Logan Studer (.452 and team-leading 33 hits), Logan Rezac (.387 with two home runs and 19 RBI) and Kyle Groshong (.333 with one home run and 21 RBI).