Edina Junior Legion baseball team wins region title

Jason Olson
Sports Editor

Hornets finish season with 10 wins in a row

As the Edina Junior Legion (16-year-old) baseball team continued its 2017 playoff journey, head coach Mike O’Brien became more and more impressed with his club’s ability to persevere.

Edina’s Junior Legion baseball team won state and Central Plains Region titles. Pictured are, from left, front row: Matthew Enck, A.J. Wind, Mason Nevers, Cam Schmidt, Joe Enzler and Andrew Enck. Middle row: Nate Montilino, Jack Murphy and Ethan Hufendick. Back row: Oscar O’Brien, coach Nolan Schoonveld, Aiden Hengel, Ryan Merrigan, Quinn Schmidt, Carter Olson, Jackson Mollet, Danny Moher, Drew Schmidt and head coach Mike O’Brien. (Submitted Photo)
Edina’s Junior Legion baseball team won state and Central Plains Region titles. Pictured are, from left, front row: Matthew Enck, A.J. Wind, Mason Nevers, Cam Schmidt, Joe Enzler and Andrew Enck. Middle row: Nate Montilino, Jack Murphy and Ethan Hufendick. Back row: Oscar O’Brien, coach Nolan Schoonveld, Aiden Hengel, Ryan Merrigan, Quinn Schmidt, Carter Olson, Jackson Mollet, Danny Moher, Drew Schmidt and head coach Mike O’Brien. (Submitted Photo)

“Nothing was getting in the way of this train,” he said.

After winning the state Junior Legion title in Apple Valley, the Hornets went to Fargo, North Dakota last week and captured the Central Plains Region championship.

“We had a 10-game winning streak against some really good teams to finish the season,” said O’Brien, whose squad had an overall record of 38-7-1.

Unfortunately for Edina, there is no Junior Legion World Series, so the players and coaches have to be satisfied with their state and regional championships.

“In the 14 years I have coached, I have never had a team respond to a challenge any better than this group,” O’Brien said. “We were never out of a game.”

Edina won seven out of eight games in state. The Hornets had to beat Excelsior twice at the end to win the double-elimination tournament. And they were able to accomplish that, 8-3 and 3-2.

The 3-2 championship game was a classic. Joe Enzler pitched 6 and 2/3 innings, but had to come out before recording the last out, due to pitch-count rules.

Reliever Nate Montilino needed only two pitches to finish the job.

Oscar O’Brien also had a big win at state, beating Wayzata 3-0. And Aiden Hengel shut down St. Louis Park in a 2-1 win.

In regional games, Edina won with hitting and defense. Region MVP Drew Schmidt led the Hornets with two home runs and a bases-clearing double. “He had nine RBIs on those three swings,” said coach O’Brien.

Edina’s regional victories were 15-5 and 5-4 over East Sioux Falls, South Dakota, 5-4 over Moorhead, 14-1 over Jefferson City, Missouri and 13-4 over Fargo in the championship game.

“Our season started June 4 and ended Aug. 4,” said coach O’Brien. “We played a lot of baseball in two months.”