Legion baseball: Willmar is state bracket bound
Willmar Post 167 dominated Sartell Post 277 to finish second in Pool Three.
BURNSVILLE — Willmar Post 167 dominated Sartell Post 277, winning 9-4 in its final game in Pool Three play Friday evening to finish in second and advance to bracket play in the state legion tournament.
Sartell scored three of the game's first four runs, and then Willmar came alive, scoring eight of the next nine en route to the comeback victory.
"Good teams find a way to win, and when these guys get warm, they get going. I'm really proud of them for that," Willmar Post 167 head coach Doug Ruter said. "We were good defensively, and when we can hit, we're pretty tough to beat."
As the Pool Three runner-up, Willmar Post 167 will face off in the quarterfinals of the legion state tournament against the Pool Four winner, Princeton, at 1 p.m. Saturday at AliMagnet Bunnell Field in Burnsville. Princton beat Moorhead 8-0 Friday.
Willmar Post 167 right fielder Jason Malmgren led the team offensively. He went 4-for-4 with four RBIs and one run.
Malmgren recorded a pair of two-out RBI doubles — one in the fifth and another in the sixth. He added an RBI single in the fourth, which cut Willmar's deficit in half.
"The bats came alive. Jason was smoking the ball," Willmar Post 167 shortstop Ian Koosman said. "He was clutch today. ... We needed him."
Hunter Magnuson commanded the mound for Willmar Post 167, throwing a 101-pitch complete game. He threw seven innings with seven strikeouts and three walks, allowing six hits and four runs.
Magnuson also helped fuel Willmar Post 167 to victory with his game offensively. He went 1-for-3 with a team-high three runs, two RBIs and a walk.
No. 4 in baby blue, Magnuson was the only Willmar player to tally at least both a pair of runs and RBIs.
"We thought it was going to be a dog fight and close game, but we kept hitting and scoring," Magnuson said. "We put the ball where it needed to be."
Willmar Post 167 second baseman Cayden Hansen and Koosman recorded multi-hit performances.
Hansen went 3-for-5 with two runs, an RBI and a double, while Koosman hit 2-for-4 with one run and an RBI.
Three other Willmar Post 167 batters recorded a hit in the victory.
Sam Etterman went 1-for-3 with one run and a walk. Brandt Sunder hit 1-for-4 with an RBI. Alex Schramm went 1-for-4.
Post 277 infielder Jacob Merrill recorded the lone multi-hit game for Sartell. He went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run.
Drew Geiger posted two shutout innings for Sartell Post 277 in relief of starting pitcher Wesley Johnson. He allowed one hit, allowing no runs or walks.
The quarterfinals and semifinals of the bracket play of the legion state tournament take place Saturday.
"It's very special," Magnuson said of Willmar Post 167 reaching the bracket play portion of the legion state tournament for a second consecutive season. "We knew that we had to win this game or we were going home... We're back just like last year."
Willmar 9, Sartell 4
Willmar 100 314 0-9 13 0
Sartell 201 000 1-4 6 1
Hitting - Willmar: Cayden Hansen 3-5 r-2 rbi 2b, Sam Etterman 1-3 r bb, Ian Koosman 2-4 r rbi, Hunter Magnuson 1-3 r-3 rbi-2 bb, Dylan Arndorfer 0-3 bb, Alex Schramm 1-4, Jason Malmgren 4-4 r rbi-4 2b, Carter Schow 0-3 r bb, Brandt Sunder 1-4 rbi … Sartell: Austin Henrichs 1-2 r-2 bb 3b, Jacob Merrill 2-4 r rbi, Steven Brinkerhoff 1-1 rbi bb 2b hbp, Carsen Gross 0-2 r hbp, Dylan Simons 1-3, Jalen Vorpahl 0-3 rbi, Drew Geiger 1-2 bb
Pitching (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) - Willmar: Magnuson (W) 7-6-4-4-3-7 … Sartell: Wesley Johnson (L) 5-12-9-8-4-2, Geiger 2-1-0-0-0-0