For the first time since 1972 Breckenridge is going to play in the Minnesota State American Legion Baseball Tournament. It’s the first time under the current playoff format.
After notching a win against Morris Area, Minnesota, Breck needed two more victories to move on. Osakis, Minnesota, stood in their way in back-to-back games, but Breckenridge was too much as they were crowned West Central Sub-State champions in Minnewaska, Minnesota.
“I told these guys at the beginning of the year, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to win a game,’ and somehow we’re going to state. Go figure,” Breckenridge coach Kevin Hiedeman said.
Second Round Game
Breckenridge and Osakis battled for the first time this season on Saturday, July 28. The low-scoring affair was scoreless through five innings and Osakis got on the board in the top of the sixth.
Connor Twidwell, who threw the first six innings, nearly picked up a loss on the hill despite throwing a no-hitter. The righty had nine strikeouts, but walks and wild pitches allowed his shutout bid to come to an end.
Post 53’s already had several comeback wins on the year and they were hoping they had another one in their pocket.
Andrew Kram started the bottom of the sixth with a hard-hit single and Jake Wendorff followed it up with a bunt hit. Max Johnson grounded out to tie the game and with one out Hunter Feigum stepped into the batter’s box. Feigum flew out to left and Wendorff hauled home. The throw was in time, but Wendorff dodged the tag by moving out of the baseline, giving his team the game-winning run.
After having to postpone their championship game on Sunday, July 28, Osakis got another shot at Breck on Monday, July 29. Post 53 got going right away and put four on the board in the opening inning. They tacked on another two in the second and never gave up a run in a 6-0 victory for the championship.
“That was one of those games where it was a little anticlimactic, because it was almost over before it started,” Hiedeman said.
Breckenridge was putting the ball in play throughout the game, but they only picked up two hits. Seven walks and five Osakis errors set the table for Breck to pour on the runs. Post 53’s defense was on the opposite end of the defensive spectrum with an error-free showing.
“We played great defense all tournament. I think we only made one error all tournament,” Hiedeman said. “We didn’t hit the ball like I thought we were going to, but they made a lot of mistakes and we capitalized.”
An error allowed half of the runs to score and the other three were brought in by a two-RBI bloop from Emmit Vig and a bases-loaded walk by Max Johnson.
Mitch Porter threw the first six innings and struck out a batter per inning. He only gave up two hits and a walk before coming out of the game to save pitches for the state tournament later this week.
“We’ve relied on Mitch a lot of this year for what he did on the mound,” Hiedeman said.
Carter Haugen finished off the final inning, giving up one hit before his team converged on him for a dog pile on the mound.
“We pitched really well the whole tournament. We only gave up two runs the whole tournament,” Hiedeman said.
It’s been a season full of ups and downs for Post 53. The team came into the year with high expectations and at one point they lost four games in a row. Injuries and players having to miss games for other reasons kept them from finding their groove, but they’ve played their best when it mattered most.
“Just a great year. Who would’ve ever thought? With all the teams we’ve had I would’ve never dreamed we’d be going to state,” Hiedeman said. “They just find a way to win. Some of them are pretty, some not so much. Who knows what happens next week?”
The win was extra sweet for the trio of super seniors who came back to the team after a year of college. Porter, Kram and Tommy Hiedeman all played crucial roles in their team’s success this season.
“Andrew’s just a great defensive player, great hitter and great base runner,” Coach Hiedeman said. “I’ve got to take my hat off to Tommy. He breaks his hand and it was the lowest point of the year. We were struggling to win a few games and he comes back with a broken hand with pins in it. Tommy’s like having another coach on the field.”
Coach Hiedeman’s had a son in the lineup all 12 years he’s coached Breckenridge. It’s fitting his last year coaching one of his sons is the year the team makes Post 53 history.
“We’ve had a Hiedeman in the lineup for 12 years. (Tommy Hiedeman’s) the last one. That’s a long time,” Coach Hiedeman said. “Good for him to be able to come back and do that with the injury he had.”
The state tournament begins Friday, Aug. 2 in Ely, Minnesota. Breck won’t be the only team from the area competing.
“DGF’s in, we’re in, Wadena’s in and we’re in. That’s our sub-section from high school ball,” Coach Hiedeman said. “That says a lot for baseball in our area, doesn’t it? There’s only seven teams that qualify and the eighth team is the host team.”