Brainerd American Legion Baseball Confident Heading to the State Tournament
Baseball in summer is heating up as the Brainerd American Legion team has advanced to the state tournament. The team had its final practice yesterday before heading to the big stage.
“We have a lot of guys that have one common goal because we know this is our last time together,” Alex Haapajoki, Brainerd’s First Baseman, said.
With nine seniors who just graduated from high school, it’s now or never for the Brainerd American Legion team as they prepare for the state tournament.
“It’s more mental than physical right now,” Colin Kleffman, Brainerd’s Second Baseman, said. “It’s the same game as always, so we are just trying to get our confidence up for the biggest time of the year.”
With four shutouts over five games in the regional tournament, Brainerd is peaking just in time for the big stage.
“I think we are going to make a run, I really do,” Haapajoki said. “We have a good team and we’re pretty hot right now.”
“The key to this team has absolutely been the pitching, it’s been phenomenal for high school,” Dave Peterson, Brainerd Head Coach, said. “We’re not a great hitting team as a whole, but our team E.R.A is about 2.3 which is very good for high school.”
The state tournament is 16 teams, double elimination style, so the pitching depth is more important than ever.
“I think I only have one person on roster that did not throw, and that was our catcher, and he’s throwing every day,” Peterson said. “So we gave him a break and didn’t put him on the mound, but everyone else has.”
Brainerd is looking forward to that first game in the state tournament which is against Edina, the tournament’s host.
“I think they will overlook us a little bit,” Kleffman said. “Everyone wants us to beat the cake eaters, Edina, so I think it will be a fun game.”
It’s Brainerd’s first time in the tournament since 2014, but they have no shortage of confidence.
“I expect to win it all,” Peterson said. “We can go six or seven pitchers deep, that’s what it’s going to take in the state tournament. I see no reason why we can’t do it.”
Brainerd’s first game in the state tournament is slated for Thursday, August 2nd, at 1 p.m. from Edina.