Whether he's on the mound or in the field, Quinn Krueger loves the game of baseball.
That love was shown on Friday night as Woodbury Legion started its pool play for the Gopher Classic at Royals Stadium in Woodbury.
On the mound, Krueger was hitting his spots on the plate and smiling every time he got off the field. On the field as a second baseman, Krueger was talking to Adam Mazur after almost every pitch and clapping along to Runaround Sue by Dion as it echoed off the speakers in between innings.
On Friday, Krueger showed his all-around skills to help Woodbury earn two wins to begin the weekend on a high note.
"I love being on the field each day and being able to hang out with my teammates in the dugout and on the field," Krueger said. "I wouldn't trade this for anything."
The Royals started the night against Andover and Krueger was on the mound. From the first inning, Krueger was hitting his spots and using his favorite pitch, his slider, to keep the Andover hitters off balanced.
He would use the slider to hit the outside corner or to have the batter chase the pitch at the last second. That allowed Krueger to record seven strikeouts and pitch a complete game with a 7-1 win over Andover.
"My slider was working really well today and that can help me with keeping guys off balanced at the plate," Krueger said.
Those seven runs came from 11 hits and Mazur was happy to see all of his teammates connecting on the ball. Earlier in the season, Krueger and Mazur both agreed that the team played a little too relaxed, which resulted in a few losses.
Since then, every player has refocused and its allowed Woodbury to get on a hot streak with winning. The players and coach Jason Eddy wanted to carry that winning mentality to this weekend.
The Royals were able to record 11 hits in the Andover game and that allowed them to score early and often. They were able to capitalize on runners in scoring position and Eddy was happy with how they handled their base running.
Paulson hit a sacrifice fly that scored for the first run of the game for the Royals against Andover. Mazur recorded the next RBI with a single that knocked in Rodney Erickson to make it a 2-0 game.
Mazur later scored with the help of Paulson to make it a 3-0 game. Erickson earned an RBI as well when he hit a double that scored Cole Heather. Then, in the sixth inning, Woodbury scored three more runs to make it a 7-1 final score.
In the second game, Rodney Erickson and Trent Glaeser worked together on the mound to record an 8-3 win over Excelsior. Erickson started the game for the Royals and Glaeser came in about halfway to finish the rest of the game.
Eddy liked this combination and enjoyed how the two of them threw on the mound. During the varsity season, Eddy said these players don't pitch much and being able to see them in legion baseball might translate to the varsity field next season.
Along with strong pitching, Woodbury took advantage of a handful of errors from Excelsior to generate early runs. The Royals had a 5-0 lead after the first inning because of smart base running and capitalizing on the errors.
That lead allowed Erickson and Glaeser to become more comfortable on the mound and not afraid to execute particular pitches.
Woodbury will need every pitcher possible this weekend along with sub-state playoffs in about a week because it's a lot games in only a couple days. A strong depth in pitching and an even stronger batting lineup can allow teams to stand out when it comes to playoff time.
"Everyone on this team can pitch and can pitch well," Krueger said. "That's a good thing for us coming into this weekend and getting ready for the playoffs. It brings our confidence up and it allows us to focus on our position and not worry."
Woodbury will have two more games on Saturday night and one more game on Sunday night before the pool play is over. The Royals play on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Omaha Central from Nebraska and 6 p.m. against Brandon Valley from South Dakota.
On Sunday, they end the weekend at 6 p.m. against Oakdale with all of the games being played at Woodbury High School. The winner of the pool play round from Woodbury will play on Monday, July 15, at 9 a.m. at Red Haddox Field in Burnsville.
The winner of the 9 a.m. game on Monday will play again on July 15 at 2 p.m. at Red Haddox Field for a spot in the championship round. The championship round will take place on Tuesday, July 16, with semifinal games at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. and the championship game at 2 p.m.
The Woodbury baseball team appreciates the opportunity to host a site for the Gopher Classic each year because it brings exposure to the game of baseball and to the city of Woodbury.
"There are more fans in the stands from many different places including out of state," Mazur said. "It also brings more exposure to the Woodbury baseball team with baseball scouts coming to each game and meeting players afterwards."
Obviously, Woodbury's expectations is to win the Gopher Classic and play until Tuesday. The Royals look at this weekend in preparation for the sub-state playoffs that start the week of July 22. Ultimately, they want to be playing in the state tournament during the first weekend of August in Cold Springs, Minnesota.
For now, the Royals will celebrate a couple wins on Friday night and focus on the Saturday and Sunday. For Eddy, he received a nice cold cooler shower from a handful of teammates in the middle of his postgame interview.
It was Eddy's birthday.
"This is a great way to celebrate my birthday," Eddy said with a smile on his face. "Hopefully we can continue to carry this momentum into the rest of this tournament and get ready for the playoffs."