Contributed by Joel Lidstrom
The Caledonia Legion baseball team withstood a fierce eighth inning rally by its alumni counterparts June 20 at Veterans Memorial Field in Caledonia, winning the Third Annual Legion/Alumni Baseball Game 4-3 on a ninth inning, bases-loaded single by Tanner Langen.
Bobby Augedahl opened on the mound for the Alumni, but lack of control in the second inning—and the prospect of an early Legion lead—convinced Alumni coach Bob Conway to bring in his ace, Ryan Frank.
Frank appeared sharp, ending the inning with a quick strikeout and working a speedy 1-2-3 third. But a year’s hiatus may have eroded a bit of Frank’s masterful control of the curve. After T. J. Schultz led off the fourth with a single and took second on a fielder’s choice, he bolted all the way home on a wild strikeout curveball that sent the batter, Mason Drake, safely to first. Austin Werner followed with a single, but the rally ended as Frank got Kyle Jennings on an easy grounder.
The Legion scored two more in the fifth on a single by Dylan Lee, an RBI double by Schultz, and two more wild pitches that again brought Schultz around.
The game appeared well in hand for coach Brian Langen’s young Legion squad. Kai Lidstrom, the Legion’s starter, scattered three hits and frustrated a team loaded with power and speed. Lidstrom notched eight strikeouts and as many groundouts as he allowed only one unearned run in his 6 1/3 innings. But a leadoff infield error in the top of the seventh ended his night.
Tyler Hoskins came on and quickly retired the side, but in the eighth the Alumni parlayed a hit batsman, singles by Mike Ideker and Josh Lampert, a groundout RBI by Houston Halvorson and an infield error on a Troy Frank grounder to tie the score 3-3 and send Hoskins packing.
With two on and two outs, coach Langen responded with fireballer Tanner Langen, who struck out the much-feared Travis Frank on three pitches, setting the table for his Legion team’s 3, 4 and 5 hitters due up in the bottom half of the eighth.
Schultz went down swinging to open the inning, and despite a single by Joe Pettit and a walk to Hoskins, Alumni reliever Brandon Vonderohe sent the game into the ninth on a timely 6-4-3 double play.
After Vonderohe flew out to center to open the ninth, Ryan Eppen’s double had the alumni believing the game was theirs. But Ryan Frank fanned and Kody Moore grounded to short to set the stage for Tanner Langen’s bat in the bottom of the ninth.
With one out, Jennings and Derek Vonderohe, a combined 0-6, singled off reliever Matt Petersen. Two wild pitches later they were on second and third, forcing Petersen to intentionally walk the hot-hitting Lee in hopes of turning a double play. But a ground ball was not to be. On a 1-2 count, Tanner Langen ripped a line drive to right center as the Legion team erupted from the dugout to mob Jennings as he touched home, celebrating a thrilling walk-off win.