NORTHFIELD -- The Brainerd Legion baseball team's impressive run through the American Legion Division I state tournament ended Saturday just two wins shy of a state title.
Brainerd was up against the wall right from the start, losing its first game of the double elimination tournament. But Brainerd went on to win four straight elimination games before falling to Apple Valley 6-5. Earlier, Brainerd beat Grand Rapids 10-8.
Grand Rapids 8
Brainerd trailed for the entire game until the final inning when it scored three runs to take a 10-8. The inning was sparked by Tony Hennen's single that drove in the tying and winning runs for Brainerd in the elimination game at Sechler Park in Northfield.
Brainerd was among the final four teams at the state tournament. Eden Prairie went on to defeat Apple Valley 13-3 for the championship Sunday.
Brady Prince, Chris Klabo and Justin Huether had two hits each for Brainerd while Tony Parrish added a home run. Brainerd pounded out 16 hits, a high mark for the tournament.
Mike Germain started the game but gave way to Adian Kummet in the fifth. Grand Rapids scored three runs in the bottom of the fifth, building an 8-3 lead.
Brainerd scored two in the sixth and two in the seventh to get within one when Kevin Mertens came on in relief of Kummet in the eighth.
Apple Valley 6, Brainerd 5
With Brainerd leading 4-2 in the top of the sixth, Apple Valley scored four runs to take a 6-4 lead and never looked back to end Brainerd's playoff run.
Scott Williams started on the mound for Brainerd and gave up two runs in the bottom of the first. After that, Williams shut Apple Valley down for four straight innings. Nate Maaske came on in relief in the sixth and didn't make it out of the inning to pick up the loss. Mertens came in and got Brainerd out of the inning.
The big story was Apple Valley's defense, which featured outstanding play in the infield and the outfield to keep Brainerd from opening up its offense.
Brainerd 201 002 203 -- 10 16 5
Grand Rapids 203 030 000 -- 8 8 3
Brd-Mike Germain, Adian Kummet (5), Kevin Mertens (8) and Kyle Holbrook. GR-Tavis, O'Toole (9) and S. Davis. W-Kevin Mertens. L-O'Toole. HR -- Brd.-Tony Parrish.
Brainerd 100 102 010 -- 5 9 2
Apple Valley 200 004 00X -- 6 5 1
Brd-Scott Williams, Nate Maaske (6), Kevin Mertens (6) and Kyle Holbrook. AV-Niswanger, DeLaHunt (6), Lukanen (8) and Sovde. WP-DeLaHunt. LP-Maaske. HR-Swenson (AV), Justin Huether (Brd). Final record-Brd 31-7.
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