Legion baseball team returns from state with two trophies

This article submitted by Aaron Ziemer on 8/18/99

Legion with trophy The Paynesville Legion baseball team returned home on Sunday, Aug. 8, after finishing second in the state Legion baseball tournament.

Not only did they arrive home with the second place trophy in hand, they also arrived home with the Sportsmanship Trophy.

The Legion team celebrates with their second place trophy while someone takes their picture.

"The guys were complete gentlemen and really deserved the sportsmanship trophy," said Legion member Carl Wagner.

The sportsmanship trophy is given out to the team that conducts themselves the best both on and off the field while at the state tournament.

"I can't say enough about the way Brad (Skoglund) had them act while they were up there," said Wagner. "We are very proud of them."

The players were all very pleased with winning the sportsmanship trophy. They all said that it is something that Skoglund has stressed to them for a long time.

"I thought it was very nice to win," said team member Nathan Schutz. "It showed we represented the town of Paynesville well."

Schutz also added that he believed the way Paynesville conducted themselves at the tournament was a direct result of the way the team was coached.

Not only did the team conduct themselves like professionals, they also played like them. In order to get to the championship game they had to defeat a tough Le Sueur-Henderson team, who actually swept the Class A high school state champion this year during the high school baseball season.

"I thought we played very well," said Paynesville Legion baseball player Ryan Schneider. "It was a great experience."

Then Paynesville defeated Eyota, another strong team by a count of 7-4. The offensive highlight of the game was a home run by Brent Heinen.

"The guys played fantastic," said Wagner. "In my mind they played as well as anyone in the professional league."

A number of the players felt they maybe were not the most talented team in the tournament.

Crowd "We played very well together, and I thought we beat some teams that had a little more talent than we did," said Heinen.

Schutz also felt similar to the way Heinen did.

"I thought we really gelled as a team, " said Schutz. "We beat many teams more talented than us."

Paynesville had a large crowd of parents and Legion members follow the team to Ely.

Paynesville continued to play great defense. After going through the entire district tournament without committing a single error, Paynesville only committed three in the state tournament.

During their three games at the tournament Paynesville had 30 hits. Paynesville had multi-hit games from Ben Bork, Doug Fuchs, Jon Lieser, Heinen, Scott Braun, and Chad Fleischhacker. Bork had two hits in every game for Paynesville.

The only unfortunate part of the trip was the 4-3 loss to Nashwauk-Keewatin. "We played pretty well, but I think we could have beat them," said Fleisch-hacker.

With two outs Fleischhacker was on third base as the tieing run, and Scott Braun was at the plate.

Braun hit a chopper and was thrown out by only a half-step at first base to end the game. Had he beaten the ground ball out, Paynesville would have tied the game.

"If we hadn't made the mistakes we would have held them to two runs that inning," said Fleischhacker.

For many of the players this was their second trip to the Legion state tournament.

Bork, Heinen, Schutz, and Fleischhacker were all members of the team that reached the tournament two years ago.

"It was a little more fun," said Heinen. "The championship game made this more intense."

Heinen also added that the games were all so close and that may have made things more fun as well.

"It was a lot of fun," said Fleisch-hacker. "The tournament was better than two years ago."

Paynesville only had two seniors on the team that will not be playing high school baseball next season. They were Heinen and Fleischhacker.

"The state tournament was probably the best way to end my Paynesville baseball career," said Fleischhacker.

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