Breckenridge Post 53 Jr. Legion suffered another close loss on Sunday, a 5-4 decision to border rival Wahpeton Post 20 in the annual Independence Day baseball game at John Randall Field.
Despite a solid pitching performance by Peyton Christensen, Breckenridge’s bats played catch-up for most of the game, and couldn’t come alive in the seventh inning with a runner on third base and Wahpeton leading by one.
“Griffin (Bosse) extended the seventh with a two-out walk, then stole second and third – that’s what you love to see as a coach,” Coach Robert Wanek Jr. said. “We fought to the finish and that’s the biggest positive.”
Christensen settled in after allowing three runs in the first inning. He gave up one hit over the next five frames, stabilizing the Post 53 pitching staff and going the distance in the loss.
“Peyton is a competitor,” Wanek Jr. said. “He mostly stayed in the zone and attacked batters, finishing the game with only 70 pitches thrown.”
Wahpeton swung the bat without fear, resulting in three Breckenridge errors and some timely hits for the home team.
“Credit Wahpeton for only striking out once,” Wanek Jr. said. “ When you put the baseball in play like that, you’re gonna catch some breaks and put pressure on the defense.”
Breckenridge’s defense was highlighted by a beautiful catch-and-throw double play from Joey Conzemius in centerfield. Kaleb Albertson also played a key role at first base, making a sliding catch and timing his stretches to perfection.
“Joey is becoming a premium defender for us,” Wanek Jr. said. “Centerfield, shortstop, third base – he’s just a versatile guy that’s willing to play everywhere. Kaleb has earned his spot at first base by improving his craft night after night.”
Conzemius’ booming bat kept Post 53 close. He went 3-for-3 in the three-hole, pushing his season average to a scorching .467. He tacked on two stolen bases, running his season total to nine in the theft department.
A critical point in the game came with Wahpeton leading 4-1, when Christensen was thrown out to begin the fourth inning trying to stretch a single into a double. It appeared Wahpeton missed the tag, but he was called out nonetheless. Joey Conzemius followed with a single, but was promptly picked off at first base.
“Peyton is probably advancing on a steal or a ground ball regardless,” Wanek Jr. said. “But being aggressive is our brand of baseball and you live and die by it sometimes. He did a great job jumping around the tag, but that’s baseball.”
Christensen recorded his fourth multi-hit game of the season, joining Conzemius and Mark Wermerskirchen as Breckenridge players with two or more hits on the day. Eli Butts also singled in a run, extending his hit streak to five games.
“Mark continues to heat up,” Wanek Jr. said. “He did a really nice job of stepping into the baseball today and hit some lasers to the outfield for us. Butts is our youngest player and he continues to produce from the designated hitter spot.”
Breckenridge plays four games this week, all divisional matchups against Ironton and Parkers Prairie. With 18 players rostered, Post 53 will be plenty creative with lineups.
“Having no 14-15 year old Babe Ruth program this summer, some of our young guys and less experienced players haven’t played a whole lot,” Wanek Jr. said. “It’s time for them to start getting some reps before playoffs and they deserve some action as we head into a busy part of our schedule.”
Breckenridge hosts Ironton on Thursday, July 8th, at 5 p.m. for a twin bill on Breckenridge's Junior Varsity diamond.