By Matthew Davis
Sun Post Newspapers
After riding aces Brandon Rushmeyer and Trevor Kiminiski through the varsity season, the Legion baseball teams had taken a different rout.
“Their arms needed a break,” Champlin Legion Post 600 coach Mike Loberg said. “In good conscience, I can’t just put them out there have them throw seven innings every couple days.”
When Rushmeyer and Kiminski logged the innings for the spring, the Champlin Park Rebels varsity team went on to their first Section 5AAA final since 2003. For Legion, pitchers such as Alex Duane, Michael Brooks and Brian McGill have seen more time on the mound. Brooks graduated in the spring and will play at Northwestern-St. Paul next year. Duane and McGill have more time ahead of them with the Rebels and Post 600.
McGill has been a big spark on the mound with a 2-1 June and shutout to his credit. He struck out three batters in a 4-0 win over Osseo Legion Post 172 on June 17.
“Every game his pitched for us, he’s kept his head in the game,” Loberg said of McGill. “He’s played well enough to win every start.”
Besides pitching, Champlin’s strong hitting carried over from the spring into the summer. They have hit no less than eight hits in any given game except their four-hit performance against Lino Lakes.
“We’ve been competitive in every game,” Loberg said. “It’s just been a big inning one way or the other that’s helped us or hurt us.”
Champlin has a large crew of graduated seniors for both the batting order as they do in the pitching rotation.
“They set a standard for them not just for the high school baseball season, but also how to play the game,” Loberg said.
Though he mixes in younger players to gain experience, some still have to wait their turn.
“We have more than nine good players,” Loberg said. “Some good baseball players are not getting the playing time they would want or I would want. Mix some guys in when you can, give some guys a day off when you can; keep everybody fresh in case an injury comes up or something like that.”
Champlin will compete in the Jim Hanus Gopher Classic, the largest Legion baseball tournament in the country on Friday through Tuesday, July 15. Post 600 will open the tournament with Omaha, Neb. Concordia on Friday at McKnight Field in North St. Paul with a 4:30 p.m. start.
Champlin’s Gopher Classic Schedule
All games at McKnight Field in North St.: Friday – vs. Omaha, Neb. Concordia, 4:30 p.m. Saturday – vs. Fargo, N.D. Post 2, 9 a.m.; vs. North St. Paul, 7 p.m. Sunday – vs. East Grand Forks, 2 p.m.; vs. Lakeville South, 4:30 p.m.
Championship Round at McKnight: Monday, July 14 – vs. Edina site winner, 9 a.m.; vs. Burnsville-Eagan, 2 p.m. Semifinals and Championship at Veterans Field, Minnetonka: Tuesday, July 15 – 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m.
Contact Matthew Davis at [email protected]