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Breckenridge Jr. Legion Bounces Back at KLN Tourney

By Robert Wanek, JR, 06/20/21, 5:45PM CDT


Breckenridge Post 53 Jr. Legion competed in the Perham KLN Family Brands Tournament over the weekend, splitting two Saturday games in dramatically different fashion – losing 16-2 to Cross Lake/Nisswa and beating Aitkin 10-0. The tournament was cancelled Sunday due to inclement weather.

Breckenridge struggled to find the strike zone against CLN, resulting in three first inning runs allowed. Control issues were compounded by a hard-hitting Patriots team that sprinkled in eight hits, six walks, and four reached on error. Post 53 couldn’t barrel the ball, recording only two hits on a bunt single by Peyton Christensen and an infield pop fly that nobody called off the bat of Gavin Snyder.

The lopsided loss allowed for some pitching moves that yielded good results. Snyder, Kaleb Albertson, and Kris Monday all made their first appearances of the summer and showed promise on the hill.

“Gavin threw the ball hard and had a nice move to first as well. Kaleb is an eighth grader and we’re looking to get him as much pitching experience as possible,” Coach Robert Wanek Jr. said. “Kris has been itching to pitch since the end of spring ball, he got out there and had some tail on his pitches and enjoyed the moment.”

In game two at Arvig Park, Breckenridge faced the defending Jr. Legion Division II State Champions, Aitkin. Christensen made his season debut on the mound and was nothing short of dominant. The quirky right-hander pitched five innings of two-hit baseball, striking out nine in the shutout. He needed just 60 pitches to record the win.

“The strike zone was very tight and consistent,” Wanek said. “Peyton missed close and attacked hitters, eventually that opened up the zone up for him and got the Aitkin batters to whiff on a some chase pitches.”

Aitkin struggled with pitch command, walking five and hitting five Breckenridge batters. Joey Conzemius made them pay, going 3-for-4 with three RBI on opposite field hits.

“It’s nice to get some free bases, but credit the guys for staying in the box and wearing those pitches from some hard throwers,” Wanek said. “Ultimately, you need guys like Joey to find the hittable pitches with runners on base and he did that.”

Aitkin threatened in the second and third innings, but two defensive plays held Breckenridge together. Dallen Ernst charged a slow roller from third and fired across the diamond to Snyder, who made a great pick while dragging his toe across the bag for an out. Next inning, catcher Zane Mikkelson threw behind the runner at third, Ernst relayed it back to home and Mikkelson made a diving tag at the plate.

“After mentally clocking out earlier in the day, our guys knew where to go with the ball and made the tough plays efficiently this time,” Wanek said. “Snyder is a great athlete and sometimes those kind of players are a huge asset at first base.”

Despite leaving eight runners on base in the early innings, Post 53 stayed calm and busted a 2-0 game open with seven runs in the fourth. Breckenridge used three walks, two hits, a hit batsman, and an error to put Aitkin away. Tom Kautz courtesy ran in the fifth inning, hustling home and barrel rolling over the plate as Breckenridge won by the 10-run rule.

Jacob Kunkel and Mark Wermerskirchen recorded their first hits of the season, while Kunkel added a shoe-string catch in left field. Ernst crushed his fourth double of the year and recorded his team-leading fifth RBI.

Breckenridge hosts Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on Tuesday, June 22nd, at 5 p.m. in a prequel to the legion game between these two programs. Post 53 won its season opener at DGF two weeks ago, 4-3.

“We’ve had cancellations up and down to start our summer, with only three games being played so far,” Wanek said. “Those games were against skilled programs and I’m happy with how the team has kept a competitive mindset and quickly put their first loss behind them."