Post 45 sweeps South St. Paul; set for District tourney

New Prague's Post 45 American Legion baseball team swept South St. Paul in its best-of-three series to qualify for the Third District baseball tournament.

That tournament was scheduled to begin Wednesday in Burnsville and Apple Valley.

New Prague was the No. 6 seed in the 32-team district. Burnsville got the top seed, followed by Hutchinson, Mahtomedi, Lakeville North and Apple Valley. Of the top 16 seeds, only two lost their first round series. Hutchinson, the No. 2 seed, was upset in three games by No. 31 seed Inver Grove Heights and Hastings, the No. 12 seed, lost to No. 21 seed Northfield.

New Prague was scheduled to play No. 11 seed Farmington at 8 p.m. Wednesday, at Bunnell Field in Alimagnet Park in Burnsville. Win or lose, they play again Thursday. If they win, they play at 5 p.m. Thursday at Vanderlaan Field at Alimagnet Park. If they lose, they play at 3 p.m. at Eastview High School in Apple Valley. Tournament games are also being played at Legion Field in Burnsville.

New Prague is vying to be one of three teams to advance to the State American Legion Baseball Tournament August 2-6 in Excelsior. The two teams that win their first three games will advance, as will one other team that comes through the loser's bracket. A team going through the loser's bracket could play as many as six games over the five-day tournament.

First round games will be played on Wednesday. Matchups are Burnsville vs. Faribault, West St. Paul vs. Plato, Northfield vs. Apple Valley, Eagan vs. Lakeville North, Mahtomedi vs. Chaska/Chanhassen I, New Prague vs. Farmington, Forest Lake vs. Oakdale and St. Paul Park vs. Inver Grove Heights.

After the Northfield game, New Prague will face either Mahtomedi or Chaska/Chanhassen I.

New Prague 14, So. St. Paul 2

New Prague opened the playoffs Friday at Union Hill, winning 14-2 over South St. Paul.

As is their custom, New Prague jumped to a big lead in the first inning, scoring six runs. Matt Ambroz and Adam Gill both had two-run doubles, while Luke Hanzel and Mike Goldsmith had run-scoring singles. Ross Skluzacek, Tony Kubes Dom DeLuca and Kyle Bergstrom also had hits in the inning.

New Prague got another run in the second. With two outs, Kubes was hit by a pitch and scored on a base hit by Ambroz.

South St. Paul got on the board in the fourth with an unearned run, but Post 45 responded with three runs in the fourth on a three-run homer by Kubes, with Gill and Skluzacek scoring. That made it 10-1.

New Prague made it 14-1 in the fifth. Hanzel drew a leadoff walk and Eric Olson singled to drive in a run. Skluzacek doubled, bringing in Olson, then Kubes and Ambroz walked to load the bases and Goldsmith drove in two runs with a double to center.

South St. Paul added one in the seventh, but it wasn't enough to end the game on the 10-run rule.

Post 45 had 16 hits, with Ambroz going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and Skluzacek going 3-for-4 with three runs scored and an RBI. Kubes went 2-for-2 with four runs scored and three RBIs, while DeLuca and Goldsmith both added two hits.

Bergstrom pitched a complete game, allowing just two hits, a double in the fourth and a single in the fifth. He allowed two runs, both unearned, while striking out eight and walking three.

New Prague 11, So. St. Paul 10

New Prague scored four runs in the top of the first and led 8-0 at one point, but then had to hold on as South St. Paul staged a comeback that ended one run short. Post 45 prevailed with a 11-10 win.

With two outs in the first, Kubes doubled and Ambroz singled to drive in a run. DeLuca followed with a double to score Ambroz and Goldsmith reached on an error, bringing in another run. Bergstrom singled, bringing in the fourth run.

Skluzacek got a solo homer with one out in the second. Kubes followed with a walk and with two outs, DeLuca reached on an error and Goldsmith was hit by a pitch. Bergstrom singled to bring in two runs, making it 7-0.

In the third, Gill was hit by a pitch and scored on a base hit by Kubes.

South St. Paul's bats woke up in the bottom of the third. They parlayed four hits and a walk into three runs. They made it an 8-7 game with four more runs in the fourth. Two errors made all four runs unearned.

New Prague scored twice in the fifth. Skluzacek got a two-out single and Kubes followed with a home run, making it 10-7.

Another unearned run for South St. Paul in the sixth made it a 10-8 game. New Prague got that run back in the seventh when Gill walked and scored on a base hit by Skluzacek. South St. Paul got a solo homer in the eighth and an unearned run in the ninth, but fell a run short.

DeLuca started and got the win and Ryan Gebur the save. New Prague pitchers gave up 14 hits and struck out 13.

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