VFW continues strong summer with impressive St. Cloud showing

The Monti VFW Post 8371 baseball team continued its impressive summer this past weekend, earning third-place honors at one of the state’s best tournaments.

Monti headed to St. Cloud to square off with some of the state’s best teams, and fared quite well as they picked up three victories to go against one loss.

Monticello opened the tournament against Forest Lake, the reigning school-ball state champions in Class 4A. Undeterred, Monti jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and hung on late for a tournament-opening 4-3 victory.

Monti scored twice in the first and once more in the third, before Forest Lake cut into the lead with two in the bottom of the fifth. Monti added a sixth-inning insurance run that would prove to be valuable when Forest Lake scored one more in the bottom of the seventh and final inning.

Monti’s quick start stemmed from a leadoff walk to Tommy Blackstone to begin the game. With one out, Isaac Frandsen reached on an error than Jace Pribyl singled to load the bases.
Alex Otto delivered the big hit Monti needed, striking a one-out double to centerfield that scored two and staked Monti to the early lead. Otto would turn in a big all around game for Monti. The incoming junior picked up his third RBI in the third inning on a groundout. In the bottom half of each inning, Otto went out to the mound and put zeros next to Forest Lake on the scoreboard. Forest Lake finally broke through in the fifth, scoring two runs on the back of two walks and a Monticello error.

Thomas Van Culin and Bennett Konz would team up for the big insurance run in the sixth. Van Culin tripled to start the threat, and with two outs Konz delivered a clutch single to centerfield to score the incoming sophomore.

Forest Lake would build up a threat against Otto in the seventh, using a one-out hit followed by two walks to load the bases. Monti brought on Frandsen to relieve Otto and try to close the door on the victory.

The first pitch Frandsen threw got away from the catcher, allowing one run to score and moving the tying run to third base and the go ahead runner to second with just one out. But on the third pitch of the at-bat, Dom Dehmer threw behind the third-base runner to successfully pick him off for the second out. Two pitches later, Frandsen struck out the batter to end the threat and the first-round game.

Pribyl led Monti with two hits in the contest. Otto threw six and one third innings to pick up the win, allowing three unearned runs.

Monti got off to a similar start in their second-round game on Friday night against Maplewood. But this time they weren’t able to hold off a hard, much earlier, charge from the opposition.

Monti took a 4-0 lead after striking twice in both the first and second innings, but Maplewood answered with seven in the bottom of the second to grab a lead they wouldn’t let go of en route to an 8-5 win over Monti.

Blackstone and Otto each had one hit and two RBIs in the contest, while Carson Sawatzke added a hit and one RBI for Monti. Van Culin threw four and a third innings of relief in the contest, allowing just one run.

Monti bounced back Saturday, behind a dominant performance from Tommy Blackstone.

The incoming junior no-hit Maplewood, helping Monti pick up an 8-0 victory in five innings.

Blackstone struck out two batters and walked two batters, needing just 55 pitches to get through the five-inning victory.

Monti scored five runs in the fourth, on just three hits, to help break the game open.

In the final game of the tournament, Monti edged past Maple Grove 2-1.

Pribyl threw all five innings for Monti, allowing just the one run on four hits while striking out four batters. Monti, playing as the home team, fell behind 1-0 in the second inning but scored twice in the fourth to pick up the victory.

The inning started with a walk to Jason Axelberg, who advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Zach Skarie. Ian Jungels then delivered a one-out single to score Axelberg from second and tie the game. Following the second out of the inning, Luke Schumacher and Pribyl both walked to fill the bases for Blake Thompson. Thompson delivered a two-out hit to right field, and Jungels came home with what would prove to be the winning run.

Monday, Monti fell 4-2 to Pierz in a league game. Ty Ulven threw a complete game for Monticello, and helped lead the offensive attack with two hits.
Monti is scheduled to be back in action today, when they host St. Cloud Blue at 10 a.m. Monti will also be home on Monday to take on Maple Lake at 10 a.m. and Tuesday when they square off with league-leading Cold Spring at 10 a.m.

Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]