2023 Nordeast Legends Outslug Giants for 18+ Crown in Twin City (MN) MABL

Twin City MABL, 18+ Division

Nordeast Legends, 21, New Hope Giants 13

Submitted by Keir Anderson, Legends’ manager

The 2023 Nordeast Legends of the Twin City MABL won their first 18+ League Championship in franchise history by defeating the New Hope Giants by a final score of 21-13. The Legends finished their regular season in second place in the American Division with a franchise-best 18-4 record (21-4 overall), securing a first-round playoff bye.

Founded in 2015 by former player-manager Greg Shows and current player-manager Keir Anderson, the Nordeast Legends finished the 2015 season with a 1-21 record, but have demonstrated year-over-year improvement in the TCMABL’s most competitive age bracket by bettering their previous regular season record in 6 of 7 opportunities. The Legends are also led by assistant player-managers Michael Walsh and fellow charter member Derek Rydlund, scorekeeper Erik Santa, and third base coach John Corbett. The Legends squad is made up of former collegiate D3, collegiate club, and high school ballplayers from the greater Midwest and east coast.

In the 2023 regular season, the Legends’ high-powered offense posted a formidable .310 AVG /.432 OBP /.427 SLG slash line. Veterans Jared Anderson (C, .442 OBP, team-leading 13 XBH, 22R, 21 RBI), Carl Engbretson (C/1B, .567 OBP, 2 XBH, 17R, team-leading 21BB), Grant Ryerse (UTIL/P, .542 OBP, 6 XBH, 16R, team-leading 26 RBI), Rob McLain (UTIL .561 OBP, 5 XBH, 21R, team-leading 9 SB), Keir Anderson (RF/P, .380 OBP, 6 XBH, 15 R, 16 RBI, 8S SB, team-leading 6 HBP), Jon “Lucky” Lucktenberg (P/3B, .385 OBP, 3 XBH, 10R, 12 RBI), and Michael Walsh (SS, .339 OBP, 2 XBH, 11R, 17 RBI, 7 SB) made up the core of the Legends lineup, providing consistent offensive contributions throughout the season.

2022 Cottage Grove Coyotes win again at TCMABL

Rookie leadoff hitter Jackson Nelson (CF, .462 OBP, 6 XBH, team-leading 23 R, 13 RBI, 7 SB) put together an all-star caliber offensive season to complement his electric centerfield defense.  The offense was rounded out by veterans Christian Holcomb (2B/P, .405 OBP, 2 XBH, 12 R), John Libbey (3B/P, .385 OBP, 3 XBH, 8R), Charlie Jones (2B, .394 OBP, 8R), and Austin Fuller (1B, .333 OBP, 1 XBH, 7 R), each of whom filled a critical defensive role.

The pitching staff was among the league’s best, sporting top-five ERA (2.80), WHIP (1.33), and Opponent AVG (.221). Staff ace Jon “Lucky” Lucktenberg (57 IP, 1.72 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .201 OBA, 40 SO) led the staff in innings pitched and strikeouts, posting the fifth-best ERA in the league among qualified starters. Lucky befuddled hitters with his 5-pitch arsenal, missing bats and inducing soft contact en route to a 9-1 record. Lucky’s starts were typically completed by flamethrowing closer Grant Ryerse (8 IP, 0.00ERA, 0.87 WHIP, .148 OBA, 8 SO, 1 SV).

The Legends typically employed a pitch-by-committee approach for the second of the Sunday morning doubleheader. Veterans John “Toro” Toraason (28 IP, 2.00 ERA, 2.61 WHIP, .226 OBA, 26 SO), Erik Lundgren (15.2 IP, 1.34 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 0.228 OBA, 11 SO), and John Harper (15.1 IP, 5.93 ERA, 2.22 WHIP, .290 OBA, 8 SO) provided most of the volume in these games and combined for an 8-2 record. John Libbey, Christian Holcomb, and southpaw newcomer Wynn Stoxen each provided meaningful innings on the mound.

Across 22 regular season games, the Legends scored 181 runs (4th best in the league) and limited opponents to 55 runs (3rd best in the league), good for a positive run differential of 5.7 runs per game (3rd best in the league). As always, the Legends played solid defense, posting a .962 fielding percentage, turning seven double plays, and catching two baserunners stealing.

20 August 2023After earning the coveted first-round playoff bye, the Legends matched against the perennial powerhouse Sea Donkeys in the quarter-finals. The Legends jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning thanks to RBI hits from Grant Ryerse and Rob McLain. Jon Lucktenberg held the formidable Donkeys lineup scoreless through three.

The Donkeys broke through in the fourth, scoring two runs on three singles and a walk. In the bottom of the fourth, Lucky, Michael Walsh, and Jackson Nelson demonstrated great fortitude, combining for much-needed insurance to make the score 4-2.

The next innings were mostly quiet as the Legends hit into a pair of lineout double plays and the Donkeys scratched across another run. With Lucky’s day finished after six innings, Erik Lundgren came in for the seventh. A fly ball lost in the sun made things interesting as the Donkeys would score an unearned run to tie the score at 4-4. In the bottom half of the frame, Carl Engbretson drew a 2-out walk, his courtesy runner went first to third on Ryerse’s third hit of the day, and McLain came through with an RBI single to put the Legends back in front, 5-4. The Legends handed the ball to Ryerse for what culminated in a dramatic 2-inning save. In each inning, Ryerse induced critical strikeouts and ground balls with the tying run aboard. Final score Legends 5 – Sea Donkeys 4.

26 August 2023…On the following weekend, the TCMABL 18+ American Division Championship featured the Legends and the regular season division-winning Eden Prairie Cardinals, who had swept the Legends in the regular season, but the Legends were determined not to lose a third time. Ace Jon Lucktenberg delivered a career performance, throwing eight innings, sprinkling five hits, conceding two runs (1 earned), while striking out two and walking one. Lucky added a 2-run double in the top of the second to give the Legends an early 2-0 lead. The offense broke through in the top of the fourth as six straight singles led to five more runs.

Michael Walsh, Jared Anderson, and Keir Anderson each had an RBI in the frame. The offense was stifled from that point on, but seven runs would be enough as Grant Ryerse shut the door in the ninth to secure the win. Final score Legends 7 – Cardinals 2.

27 August 2023…The Legends matched against the New Hope Giants in the TCMABL 18+ Championship Game. The Giants lineup ambushed and found the holes in the Legends’ defense in the top of the first. By the time the dust had settled, 14 Giants had come to the plate and 10 had scored. A rather bleak start to the Legends’ first Championship game appearance, but there’s a reason we play nine innings!

Erik Lundgren came out of the pen and settled in as the Legends offense began chipping away. Jon Lucktenberg doubled home John Libbey in the bottom of the second to make the score 10-1 Giants. Rob McLain doubled home two more in the bottom of the third to make it 10-3 Giants. The Giants battled back in the top of the fourth, plating three to extend their lead to 13-3.

Things got interesting in the bottom of the fourth though, as the Legends rallied with 2-outs. John Libbey led the 6-run effort with a bases-clearing double to make it 13-9 Giants after four. Lundgren was dialed in at this point, allowing only two additional infield singles from that point.  The Legends took advantage of some free passes in the fifth, and Keir Anderson made them hurt with a 2-out single to bring the Legends within one. 13-12 Giants after five.

With the momentum fully shifted, the Legends took their first lead in the sixth via a Jared Anderson 2-run double. The Legends added on in the frame, now leading 18-13 after six. The Legends offense continued to roll, adding two insurance runs in the seventh and one in the eighth to round out the scoring. Lundgren finished his pitching performance, having kept the Legends in the game with seven fantastic innings. Libbey pitched the final two frames, inducing a 4-6-3 double play to cement the Nordeast Legends’ first TCMABL 18+ league championship. Final score Legends 21 – Giants 13!

Jon Lucktenberg was named TCMABL 18+ 2023 Postseason MVP, having tossed 14 innings of 4-earned-run ball and picked up two wins. Lucky also contributed at the plate posting a .571 OBP with 2 XBH and 4 RBI in postseason play.