Legion success leads to amateur ball in LaMoure
LaMoure’s decade of summer baseball success has led to life after the American Legion season.
They had the right person to do it too in Vance Stemen.
The Merchants, as they’re known, will play in their third straight Class A state tournament this weekend at Jack Brown Stadium. LaMoure faces Grace City tonight in the second first-round game of the single-elimination tournament.
“We haven’t been overrun in terms of numbers in Legion ball, but we’ve had a lot of good ball players, so getting a team together made a lot of sense,” Stemen said. “We started making some calls and found out there was interest. So, we’ve done the best we could the last few years and we’ve had a lot of fun with it.”
As anyone who tries knows, getting enough players to commit to summer ball is a chore, even in a place with a tradition of success like LaMoure.
“We tried to get 20 to 23 guys to say yes, hoping when we had games nine, 10 or 11 would be able to make it,” Stemen said. “We’ve been able to get to the point where we’re right in the ballpark.”
The Merchants have played just five games this summer, but have been predictably competitive with a 3-2 record in two games against the Enderlin Indies and one each against Lisbon, Valley City and the powerhouse Jamestown Miller Lite Merchants.
“It’s fun because you watch these guys grow up playing ball and then they still have passion to keep playing when they get older and have busier lives with college, jobs and everything else,” Stemen said.
The roster includes many familiar names of successful seasons past in baseball, basketball and football.
Aaron and Parker Stemen, Tyler Thielges, Tanner Carlson, Brett Berry, Jared Pedersen, Brett Hample, Devin Piehl, Michael Nogosek, Kenny Hodem and former Jimmie football player Michael Sandness give the Merchants a heavy LaMoure feel.
They’ve drawn from around the area too, including former Jamestown Legion player and former Barnes County North standout Adam Wieland. Nick Moser of Medina can really swing the bat. Edgeley contributes a handful of quality players in Beau Diegel, Travis Jones, Alex Knutson and Justin Rott.
Minnesota implant Brandon Torborg works in LaMoure and enjoys playing, and they’ll bring in some heavy artillery for the tournament in Brady Thielges, who recently finished his summer season for Post 19.
Despite playing just five games, the always-on-top-of-it Stemen even had stats worked up.
Aaron Stemen, who played some basketball for the Jimmies, and Moser are both hitting over .400. Jones and Diegel are close.
They have plenty of pitching too with Carlson, Diegel, Aaron Stemen and Tyler Thieles, who plays basketball at Valley City State.
Not all of them will be available this weekend, but the Merchants are looking forward to coming to Jamestown and hope to stick around for a little while.
“They run such a great tournament up there and it’s such a nice place to play we’re excited to go and be a part of it,” Stemen said. “I’m sure Grace City would say the same thing, but we’re hoping to play more than one game. Either way, it should be a lot of fun.”
Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at email@example.com