39ers are heading to the Minnesota American Legion State Tournament

The Sub-State 7 American Legion Baseball playoffs were played at Kuenkel Field in North St. Paul, July 21-25, and once the last out was recorded, the North St. Paul 39ers were on top and headed to the state tournament.

The 39ers, seeded No. 3, marched through the playoffs by winning five straight games and will be participating in the 2015 Minnesota American Legion State Baseball Tournament, which will be hosted by Chanhassen Post 580 from July 31 through Aug. 3.

North St. Paul Post 39 will take its season mark of 28-14 into state tournament action.

Games for the Legion baseball state tournament will be played at four sites, with North St. Paul's first game at 10 a.m. Friday, July 31, at the Braemar Field in Edina.

The trip to the state tournament is the first for the 39ers since 2010. They also gained state tournament berths under coach Ron Adams in 2002 and 2008.

Games during the playoffs and the state tournament are nine-inning contests.

North St. Paul 7 - Hamline Hylanders 1

With Louie Varland on the mound through the first six innings of the game, it remained a "tight" affair with the 39ers clinging to a 2-1 lead.

Varland was relieved in the seventh by Nic Keenan who went one inning before giving way to 39ers' closer Nate Rubbelke in the ninth.

In his stint on the mound Varland allowed one run while striking out eight and issuing five walks.

Pitching for the Hylanders was Niccolo Ciccarelli who held up well until the 39ers got to him in the lower seventh with four runs on a walk, a hit batter and a pair of doubles. North St. Paul added another run in the bottom of the eighth for its seven-run total.

From the 39ers' perspective, Adams said, "We hung in there and finally got to him [Ciccarelli]. Our pitching was solid, but we gave up a few more walks [five] than I would have liked.

"But [Varland's] strikeouts got us out of the jams when we needed to."

The line totals showed the Hylanders 1-2-5-11, while the 39ers went 6-8-2-11.

North St. Paul 11 - Fridley Gold 4

In the 39ers' second game, they outlasted the Fridley Post 303 Eagles, the No. 2 seed, with runs in six of the nine innings it took to build an 11-4 final score.

Afterwards, 39ers coach Ron Adams stated, "We jumped out to an early lead and then took advantage of a few of their mistakes. We didn't make many mistakes until late in the game.

"We changed pitchers, and he didn't throw strikes. Then we made a few mistakes behind him.

"Overall it was one of our best games of the year. It was a good game with the outcome ending in our favor."

In the top of the first the 39ers put a pair of runs on the board and gave 39ers' starting pitcher Gus Varland an early lead.

Varland ended with seven strikeouts and one earned run in the six innings he pitched.

Scoring runs for the 39ers were Jake Steckler, Jimmy Bothwell, Adam Hildebrandt, Gus Varland, Louie Varland, Sam Farley and Jace Piepgras.

The line score read 39ers 11-13-3; Eagles 4-4-3.

North St. Paul 9 - Hamline 4

In the third game of the playoffs, the 39ers took on top-seeded Hamline Post 418 Purple Hawks.

In the regular season the Purple Hawks downed the 39ers twice. In the third contest between the rivals it was the 39ers who played one of their best games of the season and turned the tables on Hamline by a score of 9-4.

Throwing for the 39ers was Zach Lauzon, who went the first seven innings and left the mound with a 4-2 lead.

Coach Ron Adams summed up the effort by saying, "I look at the scoreboard, and that zero [errors] is really, really huge. This might have been our best game that we put together all year and what better time to do it.

"It puts us right where we want to be. We have to play again tomorrow, and we'll see what happens then. Either way, we will be playing in the championship game."

From the Hamline perspective, coach Matt Johnson stated, "It was a good game. The 39ers are a good team. They deserved to win. They played better. They had more energy. ... Hopefully we win tomorrow, and we will see them again."

The 39ers got off to a 1-0 start in the top of the first inning when Jake Steckler scored.

In the top of the second the 39ers put two more runs on the board when Dylan Foote and Joey Lenart crossed home plate.

In the bottom of the sixth Lenart scored again to push the 39ers' margin to 4-2.

In the upper eighth Jace Piepgras, Sam Blees and Jake Steckler scored to give the 39ers a 7-2 margin.

In the upper ninth the 39ers added to their total when a Hamline fielding error allowed Piepgras and Foote to fly home with the final runs of the game. 

The line score for the game read North St. Paul 9-10-0-9 and Hamline 4-8-4-5.

North St. Paul 21 - Oakdale 3

The run by the Oakdale Mavericks in the Sub-State 7 playoffs came to an abrupt halt when they went up against the North St. Paul 39ers' red-hot bats.

It was a tight game until the 39ers came to bat in the fifth and sixth innings when they scored 19 runs to close out the eighth-seeded Mavericks by a whopping 21-3 in a game that was over at the end of 6 1/2 innings because of the 10-run rule.

The Mavericks knotted the count at 2-2 in the top of the fifth but the bottom fell out of their bid to knock off the third-seeded 39ers in the lower half of the fifth when North St. Paul pushed its advantage to 7-2. The 39ers added 14 runs more in their half of the sixth.

North St. Paul head coach Ron Adams summed up the contest by stating, "It all happened in one inning. In the sixth inning we scored a ton of runs and most of them were on hits.

"We ended up really hitting the ball. It was a good match-up for us. I hope we can keep the hot bats going into the next game," referring to the championship of the Sub-State Section 7 when the 39ers squared off against the Hamline Purple Hawks.

In the game against the Mavericks, the 39ers jumped to an early lead when they scored a run in the last of the second. Oakdale matched the output in the upper fourth. The 39ers went back on top in the bottom of the fourth when they pushed the score to 2-1. The count was squared once more in the fifth.

For the Mavericks, hits were gained by Nolan Russell 3-for-4; Connor Brass 2-for-2; Jay Zwak 2-for-4; and Brock Russell, Lukas Pasiuk, Kyle Jessen and Troy Schuebel each had one.

For the 39ers, Louie Varland 3-for-4 and Adam Hildebrandt 2-for-4 were followed by Sam Blees, Nic Keenan, Gus Varland, Zach Lauzon, Sam Farley, Vaughn Pouncy, Elvin  Baez, Jace Piepgras, Joe Baumann and Joey Lenart, who each had one hit.

The line score read Oakdale 3-11-5-6; North St. Paul 21-15-1-8.

North St. Paul 4 - Hamline 3

In the game to see who would advance to the American Legion state tournament from the Sub-Section 7 playoffs, the No. 3-seed 39ers met No. 1-seed Hamline Post 418 Purple Hawks.

It was the second meeting for the two teams in the playoff tournament. This time the result was much closer, but in the end the 39ers prevailed, 4-3.

Of the second win in as many games against the Purple Hawks, North St. Paul head coach Ron Adams stated, "The kids got it done somehow. It was a tight ballgame.

"We hit the ball well, but most of the time it was right at someone. We scratched out a couple runs in the eighth and the ninth innings, and hung in there to win the game. "We played pretty good baseball through the tournament. We got the runs that counted. I'm very proud of the kids and how they played when it really counted," Adams said.

The Purple Hawks were leading 3-2 at the end of seven innings.

In the top of the eighth Jake Steckler led off for the 39ers with a double into centerfield. Sam Blees was nailed with a pitch in front of a walk to Adam Hildebrandt. A ground out and force at third plated Steckler with the 3-3 tally.

In the top of the ninth the 39ers gained the upper hand when Dylan Foote garnered a two-out walk. Joey Lenart followed with a single on a hit and run that allowed Foote to score the game-winning, 4-3 run.

For the 39ers Gus Varland went 2-for-4 and was followed by Steckler, Adam Hildebrandt, Jace Piepgras, Louie Varland, Foote and Lenart with one hit apiece.

In all the Purple Hawks struck out 12 times to the 39ers' four.

The line score read North St. Paul 4-8-1-7 and Hamline 3-9-1-8.

Wally Wakefield can be reached at wwakefield@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7826.


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