Zeroth walk-off lifts Legion past Cambridge

Nick Zeroth
Nick Zeroth

If you like American Legion baseball games played between rivals who faced each other for decades, Solheim Veterans Field was the place to be on July 8. Throw in the fact that it was a perfect night for baseball, and you have an enjoyable evening.

And then factor in that each of the two games that night was decided on the last pitch of the game, and you have about as good a night of baseball as possible.

Nick Zeroth’s walk-off three-run homer with two outs against Cambridge ace Jake Johnson gave Princeton a 7-6 win that vaulted his team past Cambridge into a first-place tie with St. Francis in the North End League.

Milaca then took some of the lustre off that win with a 1-0 win over Princeton in the second game, a loss that dropped the locals into second place in the league.

Unusual split with Chisago Lakes

Princeton led Chisago Lakes 6-5 at Lindstrom on July 10 but gave up three runs in the sixth and lost 8-6.

The next night Chisago, scheduled to play at Princeton in a make-up game, forfeited because of not having enough players, despite having 14 the night before.

That left Princeton, Cambridge and Milaca (five wins last week) with four losses apiece in league play, and league-leading St. Francis had two.

Archer took the loss at Chisago Lakes, and Bernard had two hits among Princeton’s seven. Princeton stole seven bases– three by Zeroth and two by Kinney.

Princeton Legion third baseman Jake Carlson swings at a pitch against Milaca on July 8 at Solheim Field. Photo by Tyler Ohmann / Mille Lacs County Times
Princeton Legion third baseman Jake Carlson swings at a pitch against Milaca on July 8 at Solheim Field. Photo by Tyler Ohmann / Mille Lacs County Times

The split with Chisago left Princeton, Milaca and Cambridge with four league losses each, but Cambridge lost two more last week and finished its league schedule at 7-6. St. Francis, at 10-2 with one game left, has clinched the league title. Going into play on July 14, Princeton and Milaca were each 7-4 with two games remaining and were tied for second. \

However, Princeton rallied from a 5-2 deficit that night to beat North Branch 10-6 and thus can finish no lower than third. If Princeton and Milaca tie, Coach Kinney said, Princeton would have the tiebreaker and place second.

The Legion Sub-State tournament, with the winner advancing to State, starts next Monday in Princeton and runs through July 26. Princeton’s seed will be determined later this week.

Legion Tourney this weekend

The 45th annual Princeton American Legion Baseball Tournament will be held July 18-July 20 at Solheim Veterans Field. The tourney opens Friday, with Rogers vs. St. Francis at noon, followed by Marshall vs. Lino Lakes at 2:30 p.m. and River Falls, Wis. vs. Grand Rapids at 5:30 p.m. The final quarterfinal game will pit Cloquet against Princeton at 8 p.m.

The same time schedule will follow on July 19, with losers playing in the afternoon and winners later on. Times for the games on Sunday will be 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. and the title game at 4:30 p.m.