by Eric Oslund
After a great regular season, the Zimmerman legion post 560 baseball team, better known as the Zebras, were awarded the No. 4 seed in their district.
In the past, all games in their district tournament were played in Princeton, but they decided to mix it up this year. Instead of having games run all day starting at 10 a.m., they would have two host sites and have the earliest games start at 5 p.m.
So instead of playing in Princeton again, the Zebras made their way to St. Francis on Tuesday, July 18, to play the No. 5 seed St. Francis. It was one of those weird coincidences where the Zebras were the home team – since they were the lower seed – but it was played at St. Francis’ home field. Some may think it gave St. Francis an advantage, but Michael Lorden doesn’t think that was the case.
“We played a scrimmage here early on in the year for school ball, and a lot of guys played here last year for legion,” the Zimmerman head coach said. “I don’t think that played a factor at all.”
In reality, a baseball field is a baseball field no matter where one plays, especially since most have the same dimensions these days. The only real advantage the home team gets is that they get to bat last, and that right belong to the Zebras in this game.
Ian Carlin was named the starting pitcher for the Zebras, and continued his strong summer – allowing just three runs to score in the third inning. He ended up completing six innings, the most he has done this summer, but would get pulled after that as his arm was getting sore.
His brother Nathen Carlin took over in the seventh and got the first two batter outs, but then St. Francis was able to go on a 2-out rally and score four runs.
“With the two outs they just started finding a way to hit the ball,” Lorden said of St. Francis. “We knew they could hit the ball, and they were kind of just figuring it out there in the seventh I guess. Hit our guy around a little bit, so that was the final blow I guess.”
Since legion playoffs go the full nine innings, unlike school ball where they only play seven, the Zebras technically still had a chance to come back after that heartbreaking inning. The only problem was that they were down 7-0 at that point and just couldn’t string any hits together.
They seemed to have runners in scoring position every inning, but just could not get that one hit that could have really broke the game wide open.
“That’s what we were talking about,” the head coach said. “But we struck out 13 times tonight, five looking. We weren’t forcing them to make the plays and put the pressure on them. We were kind of shooting ourselves in the foot there a little bit. I guess that happens in baseball sometimes.”
Post 560 would eventually get their first run in the ninth inning, but it was too little too late as they went on to lose 7-1. That loss didn’t end their season, but it certainly made things more difficult as they now have to work through the losers bracket of their tournament.
Their next game was on July 19, and even though the threat of elimination was looming over them, they wouldn’t let it bother them. If anything, they let it push them even more as they went on to defeat Big Lake 10-0 in seven innings – extending their season for at least one more game.