Post 15 goes 2-3 in W.C. Tourney
Adam Thielen took a chance that would make most coaches cringe.
His stunt would have dismayed American Legion Post 15 coach Mitch McLeod, except that Thielen's gambit paid off.
Thielen stole home in the fifth inning of Detroit Lakes' 6-3 win over East Grand Forks on Sunday, scoring the last run of the final game of the Water Carnival tournament.
"I saw that the pitcher was taking a long windup, so I figured I could get there," Thielen said.
It was a play that shouldn't have happened as East Grand Forks pitcher Justin Larson pitched low to catcher Joey Hanson. Hanson didn't realize Thielen was barreling down the line from third and was reacted too late to stop him.
"Coach said it wasn't for you," Thielen said.
After the fact, though, McLeod was all smiles.
"Maybe I should take credit for that," he said. "It was a heck of a move. No, he wasn't supposed to go. I was sending the runner from first base."
His play culminated a full day of contributing more than his fair share of offense for Detroit Lakes (12-16).
During his at-bat earlier in the inning, Thielen bunt singled and brought in one run from third. On the play, Larson threw to first trying to get Thielen out. No one was covering first as the first baseman came in on the bunt threat and the second baseman didn't rotate to first.
Ben Magnuson, who got on earlier after being hit by a pitch, scored on the error. Thielen went to third.
A two-run home run from Thielen in the fourth opened the scoring for Post 15. He hit a shot over the right-center wall.
Later on, Max Bently doubled and Brock Johnson followed that with an RBI double to put Detroit Lakes up 3-1.
After taking some time off from baseball because due to a post-graduation trip and playing the in Minnesota All-Star Football Game, Thielen is hitting his stride.
"He's missed a lot of games," McLeod said. "That's why he DH'd against Moorhead because he needs to get at-bats. He's shortening up, his swing is getting more consistent and today, he really had a nice game."
East Grand Forks mounted a rally in the sixth by scoring two.
Alex Walk led off with a single and came in on a double. A Hanson RBI single scored another.
Despite allowing East Grand Forks to score three runs, Post 15 starter Jon Tolbert pitched effectively in allowing nine hits.
He didn't allow any walks, which has plagued Detroit Lakes in earlier games.
"Keeping them off the bags is pretty much what I want to do," Tolbert said.
"When you don't walk anyone and don't make errors, you are going to win baseball games," McLeod said.
As the game progressed, Tolbert's pitching changed a bit. Instead of getting fly ball out, East Grand Forks was induced to hitting more grounders. It's a tactic that allowed Tolbert to last six innings.
"I just kept them off balance," Tolbert said. "They get out in front of the pitches and can't do much with them."
While Detroit Lakes got the win in the late game, it lost the first game of the day to the Moorhead Blues 8-2, albeit with a lineup of mostly reserves.
John Cahill's three-run home run in the seventh put the game out of reach.
Before that, the Blues were effective in driving in runs when they had runners on base.
It could have been a rout as Moorhead loaded the bases in the third with no outs. Kyle Van Dyke's sacrifice fly to left scored the first run of the inning. Jordan Doschadis scored when Cahill reached on an error that should have been the final out.
Detroit Lakes' first run came early. Johnson singled in Marcus Mooney, who led off with a walk.
Thielen's RBI double in the third scored Post 15's final run. He tried to stretch a double into a triple, but was thrown out to end the inning. Luckily for him, Jake Kiebke came across a few seconds before.
The Blues added two runs in the sixth from two straight RBI doubles from Michael Little and Braden Rahmann.
Moorhead's first run came in the second when Paul Roers singled in Cahill.
Despite going 2-3 over the tournament, McLeod likse the improvement his team has shown over the past week despite a few cancelled games.
"We had great pitching performances all weekend," he said.
What McLeod is seeing that is keeping Post 15 in games is what the team is doing at the plate.
"The biggest thing I think we are doing is better hitting the ball," McLeod said. "We came up with some big hits today."
Post 15 stats
Moorhead at Detroit Lakes, Sunday, July 20.
Blues 012 002 3 - 8 12 0
DL 101 000 0 - 2 5 2
WP: Pietrick LP: Polejewski
2B: Rahmann (M) (2), Little (M), Thielen (DL). HR: Cahill (M).
East Grand Forks at Detroit Lakes, Sunday, July 20.
EGF 100 002 0 - 3 9 1
DL 000 330 0 - 6 10 1
WP: Tolbert LP: Larson
2B: Bentley (DL), Magnuson (DL), B. Johnson (DL). HR: Thielen (DL).