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Moose Lake making gains in Legion ball

Brad Fossum is just 10 days too old to play VFW baseball this summer, but for him and his Moose Lake teammates, the American Legion level is just fine.

Although Fossum and Moose Lake were dealt a pair of 3-2 and 5-4 losses at perennial power Ely in Tuesday night’s doubleheader, playing at a higher, more-experienced older division of baseball is taking the team into another gear.

“We’re just trying to get as good as we can,” said Fossum, an athletic shortstop, pitcher and catcher who will be a senior next year at Moose Lake High School. “We have 40 scheduled games. I don’t know if we’ll get them all in, but I think by the end of the season, we can make a deep run into the tournament — we will have a pretty decent chance.”

Fossum said he and his teammates had a chance Tuesday, up by a run and just one out away from winning, when walks and miscues denied them a victory from Ely, a powerhouse program bound for State almost every year.

Still, on the 130-plus-mile car ride home, many players, who played for Coach Jim Ryan on last year’s VFW team and now for his Legion, are staying ultra-confident.

“We love [baseball], we’ve all been playing it most of our lives,” said Chet Morgan, a junior first baseman. “We feel good. Tonight was a good learning experience for us. There are a lot of things we can work on to get better.”

Getting better comes with playing games, and according to Morgan, he and his teammates have already won over half of their roughly 15 contests, while traveling to Fargo, N.D., Minnetonka and Rochester for tournaments.

Morgan said about a dozen players are on the roster, comprised of boys from Moose Lake and Willow River and and lone Barnum player Christopher Carlson.

Carlson said he was asked to play by Fossum and others via Facebook and text messages. Without a team offered in nearby Barnum, the 16-year-old joined, and has quickly grown to like his old-rivals-turned-new-teammates.

“I’m really happy I got to play,” said Carlson, who pitches and plays nearly any other position for the squad.

Carlson, who plays football, basketball and baseball against ML-WR during the school season, said sports are important, but so are making friendships along the way.

“It’s a lot about baseball, but it’s also about bonding with the bros, is what we say,” said Carlson with a laugh.

Even if some players, like Fossum, are getting older.