Editor's Note: The following is a team press release.
Richfield Babe Ruth 14AA team exceeded all expectations this weekend to finish second in the state Metro Baseball Tournaments State Championship in Apple Valley.
“We severely overachieved and went farther than I ever thought we would,” said Coach Steve Yaglowski.
Richfield, seeded 17th in the 32-team tourney, surprised everyone by winning their way to the championship game. They placed second, losing 5-2 to powerhouse St. Louis Park, the No. 2 seed.
Although considered a dark horse, Richfield had an impressive pre-season record. The Spartans placed second at Glencoe, third at its home tournament, and third at Owatonna despite having few practices together as a team. Unlike some towns with a separate traveling team and house league, Richfield focuses the first part of the season on its house league.
“We were up against teams that have played about 40 games together and practice four days a week,” Yaglowski said. “The St. Louis Park coach told me they practice or play seven days a week starting in early April. We slap a team together, have a few practices, play in three tournaments and go do what we just did. Unbelievable. I still can’t get over how well we played.”
On the way to the championship game, the Spartans had a 5-1 tournament record, losing only to the No. 1 ranked Prior Lake team during pool play. Richfield bounced back during bracket play to knock off a highly ranked Mankato team, 1-0, with outstanding defensive play that included two double plays. They also defeated Shoreview and Wayzata Gold.
With seven games over a three-day period – in temperatures that soared in the 90s -- winning was a test of endurance as well as talent. Richfield depends on its strong bench, especially in pitching, with seven of the 12 players pitching at some point during the season.
The team includes: Jonathon Amundson, Tommy Fallon, Christian Frost, Ryan Kawiecki, Max Kjome, Evan Matson, Sam Nelson, Hayden Nollenberger, Matthew Reser, Marcus Schaefer, Max Verbout and Sam Yaglowski. Coaches are Steve Yaglowski, George Frost and Todd Nollenberger.
Richfield will now go on to battle for a place in the Babe Ruth state tournament. They need to finish first or second in the District tournament in Osseo-Maple Grove next weekend to advance to state in Moorhead, MN, at the end of the month.
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