Seven innings of baseball stand between the Monticello VFW Post 8731 baseball team and a state championship.
Or maybe less, with the way they’re playing.
Monticello crushed Woodbury 14-2 in five innings on Saturday to stand alone as the lone unbeaten team through three days of play at the 2017 VFW State Tournament. Monti will now await the team to come out of the consolation bracket, either Luverne, New Ulm, or Woodbury.
Woodbury was no match for Monti in the championship game of the winners bracket. Post 8371 scored two in the first and four in the third before putting the hammer down with an eight-run fifth inning.
Alex Otto delivered the big hit early, with Isaac Frandsen delivering the big hit late.
The game started with Dom Dehmer and Frandsen reaching on singles in the top of the first inning, bringing up Otto with two outs and two runners in scoring position. Otto ripped a single into the outfield, bringing in both runners to set an early tone.
Tommy Blackstone kept Woodbury off the scoreboard in the first two innings, and Monti exploded again in the third. Frandsen, Otto, and Jace Pribyl all reached to start the inning, filling the bases for Ethan Bosacker. After one run came in on a passed ball, Bosacker delivered an RBI base hit to put Monti in front 4-0. Carson Sawatzke added a run-scoring fielders choice, before coming around to score himself on a Woodbury throwing error with two outs.
Woodbury got two in the third to stay within reach, but Blackstone blanked them in the fourth and Monti ran away with it in the top of the fifth. Post 8731 loaded the bases for Frandsen, who had made his first out of the tournament in the third inning when he flew out with the bases loaded. He wasn’t about to make two in a row. The first basemen delivered a bases-clearing double to the gap, putting Monti ahead 9-2 and starting a long inning at the plate. Monti’s baserunning overwhelmed Woodbury at times in the inning, and Woodbury struggled to find the strike zone, dealing five free passes in the inning. Ryley Moran put an exclamation on the inning with a two-out, two-run single to provide the seventh and eighth runs of the frame.
Blackstone retired Woodbury in order in the fifth to keep the 10-run mercy rule in effect and put an end to the contest. The incoming junior allowed just one earned run on four hits in the game, striking out five Woodbury batters while walking just one.
Thomas Van Culin went three for three at the plate to help lead the Monti offense. Frandsen went two for three, moving to eight for nine on the tournament. Otto was also two for three, and is now six for nine at state.
The state championship game is scheduled for noon tomorrow at Baker Field in Willmar. If Monticello (zero losses in the double elimination format) were to lose the first game, a second game would be played at 2:30 to determine the state champion.
For those that can’t make it, the game will be live streamed at the 2017 VFW State Baseball Tournament Facebook page, found here: https://www.facebook.com/VFWSTATETOURNY/
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]