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VFW 16s prove themselves at home tourney

Alexandria’s Wyatt Wittenburg threw from the mound in Carlos during the first day of the Alexandria VFW tournament last Friday. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Alexandria VFW 16s baseball team proved it could play with some good teams at its home tournament this past weekend after winning its pool and beating Elk River, a team that was in the tournament title game on Sunday.

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Alexandria won its first game of the tournament on Friday against Elk River before falling in a 4-3 game against Shakopee. The 16s rallied from there, winning two more games against Worthington and Becker to advance to Sunday’s championship round that featured the top two teams from both pools.

Alexandria faced off against Grand Forks on Sunday morning and took a lead into the final inning. That’s when Grand Forks rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to win 6-5 and end the 16s tournament with a 3-2 record. Grand Forks went on to win the tournament in by taking care of Elk River in the title game.

The Alexandria 15s also played in the tournament but didn’t advance out of their pool after going 1-3. The 15s beat Marshall but lost to Grand Forks, Champlin Park and Cold Spring.

“We actually played very well,” Alexandria 16s coach Parker Giroux said. “We pitched well and we didn’t make many errors in the field. Then we hit the ball like we normally do. The kids just played well and were mentally focused and having fun.”

Alexandria hung its hat on the fact that the 16s beat some good teams and were right there in both of their losses.

“I told the boys the same thing [after the tournament]; in baseball you can beat the best team on one day and lose to the worst team on one day,” Giroux said. “It just shows that we can play with some of the best.”

It’s a field that featured a total of 10 teams with many of those coming over from the Twin Cities area. Becker, Shakopee, Worthington and Elk River joined the 16s in the Black pool and Grand Forks, Cold Spring, Champlin Park and Marshall were in the Alexandria 15s pool.

“You always hear about everyone talking about the Cities and how there’s good teams down there, so it’s fun to invite them up here and have a chance to play with them,” Giroux said. “Test ourselves against them. We usually do pretty well and this weekend I thought we fared pretty well against the teams that we played. It’s fun to see how we stand against other teams in the state.”

Alexandria’s next home game will be another big one as the town’s two VFW teams get set to square off against each other. The Alexandria 15s and 16s will play each other at Knute Nelson Ballpark today, Wednesday, with the first pitch scheduled for noon.

With the regular season winding down, Giroux feels his team is playing the kind of baseball they need to play as they get ready to head into the playoffs.

“Right away we hit the ball well but we lacked a little bit of fielding and lacked a little bit of pitching,” he said. “Toward the end of the season now I think one of our strong points is pitching, and I’m really pleased with how the boys are playing. We’ve had very few errors…I think we’re going to be one of the teams to beat.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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