VFW teams battle in playoffsThe Alexandria VFW II baseball team had a win in its grasp before things slipped away on Tuesday night. The seventh-seeded team in the District 5 tournament played its counterparts from Alexandria as the second-seeded VFW I team escaped a scare with a 5-3 win at Knute Nelson Field.
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria VFW II baseball team had a win in its grasp before things slipped away on Tuesday night.
The seventh-seeded team in the District 5 tournament played its counterparts from Alexandria as the second-seeded VFW I team escaped a scare with a 5-3 win at Knute Nelson Field.
“It was a good night for Alexandria baseball,” VFW I coach Jake Munsch said. “Two teams competing like that, you can’t ask for a better game for the fans and players to be a part of. It was a good game and good to see for Alexandria baseball. Those guys played an outstanding game. They didn’t beat themselves, and we didn’t beat ourselves. They just made it really tough on us.”
The Alexandria VFW II team took an early 3-1 lead behind some aggressive base running in the second inning. An attempt to get into a rundown with runners on first and third forced a balk to tie the game at one apiece before they pulled the play off later that inning when the throw from second never went home.
Mitchell Thoennes made that lead hold up through three more innings by working his way out of jams on the mound. He couldn’t quite do that in the bottom of the fifth. Toby Helgeson got VFW I going with an RBI double to the fence.
Cody McLaughlin then gave his team the lead with a two-RBI single that made it a 4-3 game. Things could have been worse, but Thoennes escaped further damage with the bases loaded by striking out the final two guys he faced in the inning.
“I feel that defensively and pitching wise, we’re a pretty good team,” Munsch said. “I just think our weak point lately and really all through the year is hitting. We seem to get runners into scoring position and we can’t get them in. That’s been an issue all year long.”
It almost ended up costing them on Tuesday. Alexandria VFW I added an insurance run in the sixth before VFW II threatened in its final at-bat. Parker Revering and Bubba Karger each singled and were on second and third with two outs after a passed ball put them in scoring position.
That gave Ben Corson a chance to tie it. He put together a strong at-bat, fouling off three straight pitches in a 2-2 count before Parker Bowden got him swinging for the final out.
Bowden was in control through much of the night. He settled down after the three-run second inning and posted zeroes the rest of the way to get the complete-game victory. That saddled Thoennes with the loss in a complete-game effort.
“I think with the emotion and everything, Parker did a great job,” Munsch said. “What else could you ask for? He had the one inning and it really wasn’t his fault. Gave up a couple hits but he made them hit the ball. I was happy with how he pitched and really have been all summer.”
The win moved the VFW I team on in the winners’ bracket. They will play tonight, Friday, against sixth-seeded New London at 7:30 p.m. in Morris. The VFW II team will try to keep its season alive in the losers’ bracket when they play on Saturday at 1:30 in the afternoon.
The District 5 semifinals will be played on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 in the winners’ bracket and 3 in the losers’ bracket. The title game will be played in Morris at 6 p.m. on Monday. A game two, if necessary, would be played immediately after that with a trip to the state tournament on the line.