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Winona second baseman John DeMarais mishandles the ball during a double-play attempt as Bemidji's Ryan Hirt runs around a possible tag during Friday's action at the state VFW tournament in Bemidji. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Losses to Winona, St. Paul RanView close curtain on 27-11 season

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Losses to Winona, St. Paul RanView close curtain on 27-11 season
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

A very successful season came to a close Friday for the Bemidji VFW baseball team as the Vets dropped a pair of decisions at the state tournament held at the Bemidji State University diamond.

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Friday afternoon Bemidji fell 2-0 to Winona in winner's-bracket play and later in the day the defending state champs were eliminated 4-1 by St. Paul RanView.

"It's been a great experience for me and the players," said Bemidji coach Brad Johnson. "This year I think we improved as a team but we got into an offensive funk during the playoffs and we couldn't get out of it."

In the 2-0 loss to Winona the VFW managed only three hits. The trend continued against RanView as the Vets collected only four hits.

"Seven hits in two state tournament games isn't going to get it done," Johnson said. "It seemed like we weren't getting the breaks in either game but we weren't playing well enough to get those breaks."

Bemidji's pitching and defense were solid Friday. Drew Peterson limited Winona to only four hits in going the distance but one of them was a two-run blast over the left-field screen by Owen Burnikel. That blow came in the third inning and provided the only runs either team would muster.

Peterson issued only one walk but, unfortunately, it was to Tyler Kauphusman who scored ahead of Burnikel's two-out home run.

They were the only Winona hitters to make it past first base.

Bemidji advanced four runners into scoring position but was unable to get the key hit when it was required.

In the first inning Nick Hovila singled, stole second and gained third on a passed ball but a line-drive out ended that threat.

Peterson reached on an error and stole second in the second inning but Winona escaped with a strikeout, pop fly and ground ball.

In the fifth Ryan Hirt's single, an error and a groundout put runners at second and third with two out but a fly to center ended the inning.

Cody Labernick walked with two out in the seventh and advanced on a wild pitch. A strikeout, however, ended the game.

"When you come to a state tournament you have to be playing your best baseball to have a chance and, offensively, we weren't," Johnson said.

"It's a double-elimination tournament but when you lose your first game, mentally it's tough because you know you have to win so many more games."

RanView was experiencing the same situation as it lost its tournament opener and is trying to work its way through the loser's bracket.

The team from St. Paul had beaten Little Falls and Perham prior to its game against Bemidji and seemed to be on a roll.

Its ace in the hole was pitcher Griffon Caron who threw as hard as any pitcher in the tournament and didn't give the Vets many opportunities to put runs on the board.

Bemidji's lone tally came in the fourth when Hovila singled and reached second on an error and, two outs later, Labernick delivered an RBI single.

The VFW used a walk, hit batter and balk to move runners to second and third with two out in the seventh but a fly ball to center ended the game and Bemidji's season.

"It's been a pleasure to coach these kids," Johnson said. "We came a long way this summer. We won our district and put on a pretty good show at state. Not every team makes it to the state tournament and when you do you have to appreciate it because you don't know when or if you will ever get back.

"Our season is over but it will be hard to see these guys go," Johnson continued. "They spent their summer with me and I spent mine with them. And we had a great summer."

VFW State Tournament

Thursday's Late Results

Ranview 3, Little Falls 1 (Little Falls eliminated)

Luverne 8, Perham 2

Friday's Results

Winner's Bracket

Winona 2, Bemidji 0

Grand Rapids 4, Luverne 2

Loser's Bracket

Eagan 12, Elk River 4 (Elk River eliminated)

RanView 10, Perham 4 (Perham eliminated)

RanView 4, Bemidji 1 (Bemidji eliminated)

Eagan 9, Luverne 4 (Luverne eliminated)

Today's Games

Game 1: Winona vs. Grand Rapids, 1 p.m.

Game 2: RanView vs. Eagan (loser eliminated), 4 p.m.

Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 winner (loser eliminated), 7 p.m.

Sunday's Games

Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, noon

Game 5: Repeat of Game 4, 3 p.m. (if necessary)

Bemidji's Friday Linescores

Bemidji 000 000 0 - 0 3 0

Winona 002 000 x - 2 4 2

Peterson (L) and Buckanaga. K-4, BB-1

Burnikel (W) and Marks. K-4, BB-1

RanView 000 201 1 - 4 7 1

Bemidji 000 100 0 - 1 4 1

Caron (W) and Dandrea. K-7, BB-1

Rutledge (L), Labernick (5), Barrett (6) and Buckanaga. K-3, BB-6

Y pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

A very successful season came to a close Friday for the Bemidji VFW baseball team as the Vets dropped a pair of decisions at the state tournament held at the Bemidji State University diamond.

Friday afternoon Bemidji fell 2-0 to Winona in winner's-bracket play and later in the day the defending state champs were eliminated 4-1 by St. Paul RanView.

"It's been a great experience for me and the players," said Bemidji coach Brad Johnson. "This year I think we improved as a team but we got into an offensive funk during the playoffs and we couldn't get out of it."

In the 2-0 loss to Winona the VFW managed only three hits. The trend continued against RanView as the Vets collected only four hits.

"Seven hits in two state tournament games isn't going to get it done," Johnson said. "It seemed like we weren't getting the breaks in either game but we weren't playing well enough to get those breaks."

Bemidji's pitching and defense were solid Friday. Drew Peterson limited Winona to only four hits in going the distance but one of them was a two-run blast over the left-field screen by Owen Burnikel. That blow came in the third inning and provided the only runs either team would muster.

Peterson issued only one walk but, unfortunately, it was to Tyler Kauphusman who scored ahead of Burnikel's two-out home run.

They were the only Winona hitters to make it past first base.

Bemidji advanced four runners into scoring position but was unable to get the key hit when it was required.

In the first inning Nick Hovila singled, stole second and gained third on a passed ball but a line-drive out ended that threat.

Peterson reached on an error and stole second in the second inning but Winona escaped with a strikeout, pop fly and ground ball.

In the fifth Ryan Hirt's single, an error and a groundout put runners at second and third with two out but a fly to center ended the inning.

Cody Labernick walked with two out in the seventh and advanced on a wild pitch. A strikeout, however, ended the game.

"When you come to a state tournament you have to be playing your best baseball to have a chance and, offensively, we weren't," Johnson said.

"It's a double-elimination tournament but when you lose your first game, mentally it's tough because you know you have to win so many more games."

RanView was experiencing the same situation as it lost its tournament opener and is trying to work its way through the loser's bracket.

The team from St. Paul had beaten Little Falls and Perham prior to its game against Bemidji and seemed to be on a roll.

Its ace in the hole was pitcher Griffon Caron who threw as hard as any pitcher in the tournament and didn't give the Vets many opportunities to put runs on the board.

Bemidji's lone tally came in the fourth when Hovila singled and reached second on an error and, two outs later, Labernick delivered an RBI single.

The VFW used a walk, hit batter and balk to move runners to second and third with two out in the seventh but a fly ball to center ended the game and Bemidji's season.

"It's been a pleasure to coach these kids," Johnson said. "We came a long way this summer. We won our district and put on a pretty good show at state. Not every team makes it to the state tournament and when you do you have to appreciate it because you don't know when or if you will ever get back.

"Our season is over but it will be hard to see these guys go," Johnson continued. "They spent their summer with me and I spent mine with them. And we had a great summer."

VFW State Tournament

Thursday's Late Results

Ranview 3, Little Falls 1 (Little Falls eliminated)

Luverne 8, Perham 2

Friday's Results

Winner's Bracket

Winona 2, Bemidji 0

Grand Rapids 4, Luverne 2

Loser's Bracket

Eagan 12, Elk River 4 (Elk River eliminated)

RanView 10, Perham 4 (Perham eliminated)

RanView 4, Bemidji 1 (Bemidji eliminated)

Eagan 9, Luverne 4 (Luverne eliminated)

Today's Games

Game 1: Winona vs. Grand Rapids, 1 p.m.

Game 2: RanView vs. Eagan (loser eliminated), 4 p.m.

Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 winner (loser eliminated), 7 p.m.

Sunday's Games

Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner, noon

Game 5: Repeat of Game 4, 3 p.m. (if necessary)

Bemidji's Friday Linescores

Bemidji 000 000 0 - 0 3 0

Winona 002 000 x - 2 4 2

Peterson (L) and Buckanaga. K-4, BB-1

Burnikel (W) and Marks. K-4, BB-1

RanView 000 201 1 - 4 7 1

Bemidji 000 100 0 - 1 4 1

Caron (W) and Dandrea. K-7, BB-1

Rutledge (L), Labernick (5), Barrett (6) and Buckanaga. K-3, BB-6

pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

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Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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