In early July, and in the shadows of a highly successful Rapid City Firecracker Tournament run, the Eden Prairie American Legion baseball team fizzled in its return to regular-season play.
Specifically, Eden Prairie dropped a 2-1 game to Eagan.
Two weeks ago, Eden Prairie returned to form in the highly competitive Gopher Classic, winning its pool before falling to Millard South (Omaha, Nebraska) in the Sweet 16.
Eden Prairie’s return to non-tournament play was dud-ish.
“We didn’t have the kind of week you’d want leading into the playoffs,” said Eden Prairie coach Valdie Magstadt.
On Wednesday, Eden Prairie fell 1-0 to No. 1-ranked Excelsior.
“We’ve proved we can play with some of the better teams,” said the coach, “but we left a little on the table. Offensively, we weren’t very consistent.”
Ben Shepard gave Eden Prairie a chance, pitching 6 2/3 innings and striking out 10.
“We wasted a good start,” lamented Magstadt.
On Thursday, Eden Prairie jumped on Chanhassen, scoring seven runs in the second inning before coasting to a 9-2 win.
“It’s a good win over a sub-state team, but we probably should have won it in five,” said Magstadt. “We had that big inning, but didn’t build off it.”
Tyson Stritesky was credited with the win. He pitched six shutout innings and struck out seven.
Jordan Amundson counted three RBIs, Tyson Sirek two.
On Friday, Eden Prairie ended regular-season play with a 3-2 loss to St. Louis Park.
“We scored two in the first and then kind of shut down,” said Magstadt. “We made a few mistakes and they got three in the seventh.
“We had a chance in the bottom of the seventh, but couldn’t get it done,” he added. “At the end of the day, you get what you deserve.”
Brandt Thompson started for Eden Prairie, but left after five innings.
“He was on a pitch count,” explained Magstadt.
On Saturday, Eden Prairie was awarded Sub-State 3’s No. 2 seed.
Edina was seeded No. 1, Chaska No. 3, Shakopee No. 4 and Chanhassen No. 5.
“We played 25 games in 32 days and finished 15-10,” said Magstadt. “That’s pretty good.”
Note: In its two big tournaments (Rapid City Firecracker and Gopher Classic), Eden Prairie counted a 9-3 record.
“The goal moving forward is to be the best version of ourselves,” said Magstadt. “If we do that and play well, the rest will take care of itself.”
Eden Prairie was scheduled to open sub-state play on Tuesday with a game against No. 7-seeded Bloomington Blue. Win or lose, Eden Prairie would play again on Wednesday.
Sub-State 3 is an eight-team double-elimination tournament. All games will be played at Chanhassen High School.