VFW baseball: Alexandria I team grabs state berthAlexandria opens play at 12:30 p.m. August 9
Two days after the Alexandria Legion baseball team punched its ticket to the state tournament, the VFW I team did the same after an 11-4 win over Willmar on Monday night.
The win gave the VFW I team back-to-back wins over Willmar to secure the District 5 title after taking care of New London-Spicer in the quarterfinals. Both of the first two games were decided by just one run.
Alexandria could take a deep breath after a seven-run first inning in the title game. Grant Toivonen got hit by a pitch to start the inning. Toby Helgeson, Mitch Thompson and Cody McLaughlin all followed with hits to get the scoring going.
Alexandria sent a total of 13 guys to the plate in the first inning. They added four more runs in the third, while sending 10 to the plate. Helgeson went 3-for-5, including a double, and two runs scored
Jake Booth got the win on the mound. He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and striking out two before giving way to Chris Leary in the sixth. Leary closed things out by striking out the final two batters he faced after giving up a run in the seventh inning.
Things were a lot closer the first time these two teams met in the tournament semifinals. Alexandria needed an extra inning before they walked off with a 3-2 win in the eighth.
Parker Bowden scored the winning run after leading off the inning with a single. He came in on a ground ball off the bat of Toivonen two batters later.
That made Bowden a winner on the mound. He went all eight innings, facing just six batters the final two innings to help him secure the win. Bowden struck out four and scattered eight hits, seven of which were singles.
Alexandria had what looked to be a promising inning started in the fifth after the first two batters reached base. Toivonen was at the plate when he bunted in the air toward the pitcher. Bowden and Kaden Anderson both went back to their bags anticipating a catch. Instead, the ball was dropped for an error in what turned into an inning-ending 1-3-4-5 triple play.
Alexandria used two runs in the seventh inning to earn a 7-6 win over New London-Spicer in the quarterfinals. Helgeson and Thompson both walked to start the inning before coming around to score with the help of two New London-Spicer errors. That erased what had been a 6-5 deficit entering the final frame.
Danny Kuhn started but lasted just five innings. Mitch Thompson replaced him trailing 5-3 in the third and worked the final five innings. He gave his team a chance by putting up a zero in four straight innings before New London scored an unearned run in the seventh.
Thompson also scored twice and reached base three times on walks. McLaughlin had two hits and Anderson had a two-RBI double in the third.
The VFW state tournament will take place August 9-12 in Mankato. Alexandria’s first game will be August 9 at 12:30 p.m. at Franklin Rogers Park against the winner of District 7.
WILLMAR 100 011 1 – 4
ALEXANDRIA 704 000 X – 11
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Booth – W, 5 2/3IP, 6H, 3R, 1SO; Leary – 1 1/3IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1HBP, 3SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Toivonen – 1-4, HBP, 1 run; Helgeson – 3-5, 2B, 2 runs; Thompson – 1-3, 2 BB, 2 runs; McLaughlin – 1-3, 1 run; Jake Bear – 1-3, BB, 1 run; Travis Krueger – 2 BB, 1 run; Leary – BB, 1 run; Spencer Lucas – 1-3, BB; Anderson – 2-4, 2 runs
WILLMAR 011 000 00 – 2
ALEXANDRIA 200 000 01 – 3
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Bowden – W, 8IP, 2R, 8H, 4SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Toivonen – 1-4, RBI, 1 run; Thompson – 1-3, 1 run, RBI; McLaughlin – 1-3; Bear – RBI; Booth – 1-3; Bowden – 2-3, 1 run
NEW LONDON-SPICER 140 000 1 – 6
ALEXANDRIA 122 000 2 – 7
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Kuhn – 2IP, 4H, 5R, 1SO; Thompson – W, 5IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 6SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Toivonen – 2 RBI; Helgeson – BB, 1 run; Thompson – 3 BB, 2 runs; McLaughlin – 2-4; Bear – 1-2, 2 BB, RBI, 1 run; Krueger – 1-4, 1 run; Booth – BB; Casey Hammerback – BB, 1 run; Anderson – 1-2, 2B, 2 RBI, 1 run