Zone 5 Tournament preview

As the calendar gets closer and closer to the month of August, the American Legion baseball season ends right before football season begins.

But there are still plenty of important baseball games left to play between now and then.

The 2013 American Legion Zone 5 Tournament is next week in Menominee.

Nine U.P. teams each have the same goal, which is to finish the five-day tournament in third place or better.

Each of the top three teams are guaranteed a spot in the Tier II State Tournament the first week in August in downstate Hudson.

While most teams will spend this upcoming weekend practicing for the tournament, one U.P. team will take part in a tournament in Wisconsin.

“Were going down to Plover (Wisconsin) this weekend to get ready for the (Zone 5) tournament,” said Marquette Blues manager Derek Swajanen.

“Hopefully we get into the top three. We had a good draw- we play Kingsford right off the bat. If you win two games out of the winners bracket, you should be setup to go to the State Tournament,” Swajanen added.

The Marquette Blues are the top seed in the Zone 5 Tournament.

“It’s good to have that top spot, because you have to fight back and win seven games if you are in the losers bracket,” said Blues outfielder Ryan Walther.

Rob Berg, the manager of the Channing Railroaders, knows his team will have an uphill battle to finish inside the top three of the tournament, but he expects his kids to play as hard as they have all season long.

“We only have a few pitchers, but we have a chance to knock off somebody and that’s what we are going down there for. Maybe we will play some good ball, knock off a couple of teams, and maybe get a few games in,” said Berg.

“You can’t say that the regular season doesn’t matter, but the (Zone 5) tournament is more important,” said Cody Frazier, a catcher for the Gladstone Indians. “We always do well when we hit the ball well,” Frazier added.

The Zone 5 Tournament begins on Wednesday, July 24. The championship game is set for Sunday, July 28 at 12pm CT.