When is one fourth more important than three fourths? When that one fourth comes at the end of a season.
Monticello VFW turned things around just in time to earn home field advantage in the opening playoff series, which they took advantage of earlier this week, sweeping Foley to advance to the district tournament.
Before the recent success, the VFW team spent 75 percent of the season struggling to find wins and/or momentum.
“We started pretty slow,” admitted Coach Joe Rosh.But suddenly, Monticello heated up as fast as the temperatures do during their daytime games.
It started following a 3-0 loss to Foley late in the regular season.
“I think that was our turning point,” said Rosh. “We weren’t prepared. Since that point, we’ve righted the ship.”
Righting the ship has included some impressive results, such as wins over consistently strong programs such as Hill Murray and Sartell, as well as a close loss to a tough Maple Grove team.
But things probably peaked – for now – when Monticello got a second (and third) chance at Foley earlier this week.
“We wanted to show Foley that we were a different team,” said Rosh.
And that they did.
Despite falling behind 6-1 in the first game, and 3-1 in the second game, Monticello managed to sweep the home doubleheader at the high school on Monday and earn a berth in the 8-team district tournament.
In the first game, Dustin Stein kept Monticello in the game on the mound, despite getting off to a tough start. From there, the Magic chipped away, running the bases well and executing at the plate and in the field. Eventually, a successful squeeze play put the home team in front 7-6 in the fifth inning, a lead they would not relinquish.
Michael Revenig and Teddy Blackstone each had multi-hit games for Monticello, including an RBI double for each.
In the clincher, Monticello used a five-run third inning to push them to a 9-4 win and district berth.
Tanner Eckhart, who threw a complete game for Monticello, was backed by a team effort on offense.
“It seemed like everyone got a big hit,” said Rosh.
The VFW team will look to continue the hot bats and positive momentum when they open districts against Little Falls at noon Monday in Cold Spring.