A couple of close wins last weekend propelled the Winnebago American Legion Post 82/Blue Earth Legion Post 89 baseball team into the Division II, 2nd District Legion Baseball finals set for this weekend, July 27-28.
There the championship team will gain a berth in the State Legion Baseball Tournament which will be held in Bird Island on Aug. 2-4.
The W/BE squad started off last weekend with a 5-2 win over Jackson on Friday night.
But, their games on Saturday and Sunday were much closer. In each case, the local Legion team gained a one-run, come-from-behind victory.
On Saturday they pulled out a 3-2 win over Springfield and on Sunday it was a very tight 2-1 win against Luverne.
The W/BE Legion team was trailing 1-0 on Sunday against Luverne when Christian Haugh hit a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning to stage the come-from-behind win.
Brandyn Olsen had gained first base on a single right before Haugh's homer.
"I had the bunt sign on for Christian at first," Coach Steve Sonnicksen says. "But I called off the bunt sign and the next pitch Christian sent it out of the yard."
Pitcher Dallas Barslou then held Luverne scoreless for the next two innings to secure the victory. Barslou had a very efficient game, going all seven innings and scattering seven Luverne hits. He also had three strikeouts and issued two walks.
"We played a very, very, very good defensive tournament," Sonnicksen says. "And we had very few errors. We also had good pitching and didn't issue many walks. Everyone had to earn a place on base against us."
Both W/BE and Luverne had been unbeaten in District play. The local squad now sports an overall season record of 16-3.
W/BE will now play the winner of the playback bracket on Sunday at noon in Milroy for the championship. That team will be Luverne, Springfield or St. James. Those teams are involved in playoff games on Saturday.
If W/BE loses the Sunday noon game it would be their first loss and another game to determine the champion would occur at 4 p.m. Sunday.
The W/BE Legion boys also had to stage a come-from-behind win in their game last Saturday against Springfield.
Trailing 2-0, the local team scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to tie the game.
Then in the bottom of the seventh, with two outs already recorded, the W/BE squad gained the win.
David Franta came across the plate all the way from first base for the go-ahead run off a Brandyn Olsen hit-and-run single.
Franta and Seth Anderson each had two hits in the game. Anderson, Dallas Barslou and Carter Hanson each had a double while Christian Haugh had a triple.
Pitcher Quinn Huisman picked up the win going all seven innings. He allowed the two Springfield runs on five hits, struck out two and walked one.
In Friday's game against Jackson, W/BE jumped out to an early first inning 4-0 lead on their way to a 5-2 win.
Carter Hanson and Seth Anderson both homered in the game. David Franta and Dallas Barslou each had two hits.
Brady Anderson picked up the win, going all seven innings. The W/BE pitcher allowed the two Jackson runs in the second inning, gave up just three hits, had seven strikeouts and issued three walks.
"We are pretty excited," Sonnicksen says. "We hope we can gain a trip to the state tournament. It has been a number of years since the Legion team has made it."