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Rochester A's upset No. 1 Hopkins in American Legion state tournament

The Rochester A's dropped their opening game in pool play at the American Legion state tournament in Burnsville on Thursday, but they bounced back with a convincing 9-2 win against No. 1 Hopkins in their final game of the day.

Rochester A's vs Winona D1 American Legion Baseball
Rochester A's pitcher Peyton Milene (center) talks with relief pitcher Blake Baudoin during a Sub-State 1 playoff game in Winona on July 22. The A's opened the Division I American Legion baseball state tournament on Thursday with a loss, followed by a win against No. 1 Hopkins.
Tucker Allen Covey / Post Bulletin file photo
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BURNSVILLE — After losing in the first round of pool play in the Division I American Legion Baseball State Tournament on Thursday, the Rochester A's bounced back in stunning fashion in the second round for a huge victory.

The A's were competitive, but dropped a 6-3 decision to Maple Grove in the opening round of pool play. But in the second round, the A's posted a 9-2 victory over Hopkins, which was ranked No. 1 in the state. The A's have one more game in pool play on Friday and a win would likely move them to the state quarterfinals, which begin Saturday.

American Legion state results

"This is a signature win for our program," A's coach Todd Stellmaker said. "It might be the biggest win for the A's since the 2005 state tournament (the last time the A's went to the state tournament). We just handed it to a team that had expectations of winning this tournament."

In likely his last pitching outing with the A's, Josh Fletcher was again stellar. He entered the game 8-0 with a 2.02 ERA this summer and he limited Hopkins to two earned runs on seven hits.

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"He left it all on the mound," Stellmaker said.

The A's were down 2-0 before they scored the final nine runs, getting four in the four in the fourth, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth.

Cole Rocholl had a huge hit as he gave the A's the lead with a two-out, three-run double in the fourth inning.

"Cole had an amazing game," Stellmaker said. "He made every play he needed to at third base and came up huge at the plate for us."

Rocholl finished 2-for-3 at the plate. Jerry Fletcher was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, Josh Fletcher was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI and Harrison Esau had a hit a drove in two runs.

"It was such a great team effort and team win," Stellmaker said. "I'm so proud of these boys. We came up here just hoping to compete and here we are one win away from advancing to the quarterfinals. It's been quite a playoff run for us going back to the district playoffs. Hopefully we have one more in us; these boys deserve it."

The A's close pool play against Rosemount at 12:30 p.m. Friday. The top two teams from each of the four pools will advance to an eight-team, single-elimination format on Saturday.

Opening round

Maple Grove built a 6-0 lead and held on to win.

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"All in all I'd say we played a pretty good game," Stellmaker said. "There were some nerves in the first inning that led to a couple of errors and cost us a run early."

Peyton Milene limited Maple Grove to two runs, one earned, over the first four innings before he came out. The left-hander allowed three hits and walked four.

"Peyton threw well," Stellmaker said. "When he gets dialed in he's as good as any pitcher out there. His next step is going to be to work on being more efficient and lower his pitch counts. If he can do that he has the potential to be amazing."

Sam Johnston entered in the fifth to pitch for the A's. Maple Grove collected a couple of solid hits and a throwing error helped lead to four unearned runs and a 6-0 lead.

"It was an unfortunate break because we really could have made a game out of it had those mistakes not happened," Stellmaker said. "But that's baseball. Errors are part of the game, you have to learn from it and move on."

The A's cut the lead in half with three runs in the bottom of the fifth. Blake Baudoin hit an RBI double in the inning and he later scored. Milene also had a single and scored a run.

FIRST ROUND
Maple Grove 6, Rochester A's 3
Maple Grove#101#040#0#—#6#9#0
A's#000#030#0#—#3#5#3
Maple Grove: Chatyon Fischer 2-for-4; Nathan Schmidt 2-for-3; Vann Olson 2-for-4. Pitchers: Aiden McMahon (WP) 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.
 Rochester A's : Sam Johnston 1-for-3; Cole Rocholl 1 R; Harrison Esau 1-for-3; Peyton Milene 1-for-1, 1 R; Blake Baudoin 1-for-3, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R. Pitchers: Peyton Milene (LP) 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K; Sam Johnston 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 1 BB; Owen Kelly 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K; Jerry Fletcher 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K.

SECOND ROUND
Rochester A's 9, Hopkins 2

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A's#000#423#0#—#9#9#0

Hopkins#020#000#0#—#2#7#1

Rochester A's: Josh Fletcher 2-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R; Jerry Fletcher 3-for-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R; Cole Rocholl 2-for-3, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 R; Harrison Esau 1-for-3, 2 RBI; Peyton Milene 1 R; Blake Baudoin 1 R; Jack Eustice 1 R. Pitchers: Josh Fletcher (W) 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.

Hopkins: B.Zimmer 2-for-4, 1 2B; J.Mausser 2-for-3 1 R; N.Ottmar 2-for-3 1 RBI; E.Stewart 1-for-3.

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