Legion team off to 13-3 start
The tractor had come to rest near third base after Champlin Park American Legion baseball coach Mike Loberg had finished dragging a field his team had just used to push its record a full 10 games over the .500 mark.
Frankly, there wasn’t much work that needed to be done in the first place.
As they have much of the summer, the Rebels waited out Tri-City Blue long enough to produce a clutch, game-changing hit that all but clinched the victory.
This time, it was Brady Soderstrom delivering it with a two-out, bases loaded double the other way that scored three runs in what would be a 6-2 win for Champlin Park.
The carbon-copy performance of games past was put to use in large part because of the pitching Sam Bozyk, who followed another pattern that has headlined much of the Rebels success.
“Our pitching has been so good that if we can find a way to get a hit or two with guys out there,” Loberg said. “That is usually enough. That is kind of what it has been for us.”
It’s working, no doubt.
With the victory, Champlin Park improved its record to 13-3 this summer. Two of those defeats came against teams from outside of Minnesota during a trip to Sioux Falls, S.D.
Through last week, the only team from inside state lines to defeat the Rebels was Osseo, and that due in large part to the fact that, unlike just about every other outing this season, Champlin Park failed to get that clutch hit with runners in scoring position.
“We’ve been playing good baseball,” said Soderstrom. “We’d love to have that game against Osseo back, because we had chances, but that happens sometimes.”
Rarely for Champlin Park, however.
And that has the group thinking big as the regular season winds down in North Hennepin League play.
The Rebels headed into this week in first place in the league with games yet to be played against Andover, Centennial and Armstrong.
The onus on finishing strong is there. Like the high school season this past spring, when Champlin Park also started 13-3, the defining moments have yet to come.
The high school team dropped three straight after getting to 13-3 and ended up going 15-8 after consecutive playoff losses to Coon Rapids and Maple Grove ended the season short of what they had hoped.
The redemption tour the Rebels are currently on has started in the same fashion. Now they just want to finish a little differently.
“That is what we hoped,” said Loberg. “It is the last hurrah for the seniors, and we have a lot of seniors that graduated this year and that group is a very talented group across the board in every sport. I put out there early that these guys have another chance to go to a state tournament in baseball. They have responded well, and our record shows it based on how they have played.”