Legion baseball: Wadena gears up for Legion playoffs after sweeping Park Rapids
After a long high school season, the Wadena Legion baseball team picked up right where the Wolverines left off. After starting 8-2 this summer, Post 171 is gearing up for another long postseason run.
WADENA – The Wadena Legion baseball team is revving up for another deep postseason run just weeks after Wadena-Deer Creek competed in the Class 2A state high school baseball tournament.
Post 171 picked up a pair of convincing wins over Park Rapids on Monday night in a doubleheader sweep. After winning the first game 7-1, Wadena made quick work of Park Rapids in a 10-2 five-inning win in game two.
“We had fun in the first game,” Wadena head coach Justin Dykhoff said. “I let one of the players make the lineup, and we were still able to get a win, so that’s good. In the second game, we played with the varsity team they’ll have next year without seniors. They came out and hit the ball in that one too.”
After Park Rapids scored a run in the top of the first inning, Wadena was quick to answer. Connor Davis tied the game with an RBI triple before Evan Lunde brought him home with a sacrifice fly.
Gunner Olson doubled in a pair of runs later in the inning before Simon Kreklau made it 5-1 with an RBI single. Tyson Barthel added another run in the bottom of the second inning with a single.
Post 171 kept rolling in the fourth inning, adding four more runs on a Barthel single, Kreklau’s bases-loaded walk and an error. The game ended after five innings due to darkness.
Wadena’s two wins moved its record to 8-2 this summer.
“It’s tremendous,” Dykhoff said of the growth throughout the high school and legion season. “Their defense has really come around after struggling. We had a ton of fun up in Ely last weekend and came away 2-1. We lost to a good Wisconsin team that’s played 40 Legion games. We’ve played 10.”
Post 171 has jammed a lot of legion baseball games into a few short weeks. After WDC advanced through three rounds in the Class 2A state baseball tournament, the Legion season was put on the backburner.
“They started right where they left off in the varsity season,” Dykhoff said. “They hit the ball well. We struggled defensively to start the season, but it’s come around now. With Legion being summer ball, everyone gets their chances to show they can play if need be. They’ve done that.”
Summer baseball is a time for developing the next wave of varsity baseball players. Even though graduated seniors like Johs Dykhoff and Payton Rondestvedt are playing in their final eligible year of Legion baseball, nights like Monday were reserved for future Wolverines.
“There aren’t a lot of challenges with this team as a coach,” Dykhoff said. “They all love baseball quite a bit. Coming out here and playing this many games is easy for them.”
The Legion playoffs begin this weekend, and Wadena will look to go to another state tournament. Now that the dog days of summer are over, coach Dykhoff hopes to see the same rejuvenated group that competed for a high school state championship.
“I want them to keep playing ball the way they have been but with a little more fire,” Dykhoff said. “I feel like in Legion, they slack off a little bit, but they’re coming off of a state tournament, so it’s OK. They’ll come back around and get more dialed in for playoffs.”
PARK RAPIDS 000 001 2 – 3 - 5 - 1
WADENA 401 200 X – 1 - 10 - 2
WP: Tyson Barthel 6IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 1BB 8K
LP: Johanning 3IP, 7R, 5ER, 3BB, 1K
WADENA HITTING- Josh Dykhoff 2B
PARK RAPIDS 100 01X X – 2 - 1 - 6
WADENA 510 4XX X – 10 - 9 - 0
WP: Connor Davis 5IP, 1H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, 6K
LP: Morris 4IP, 9H, 10R, 3ER, 2BB, 4K
WADENA HITTING- Gunner Olson 2B, Connor Davis 3B