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Successful weekend in GF

Despite seeing his team lose three of four games at last weekend's tournament in Grand Forks, VFW coach Brad Johnson considered the weekend a success. Friday the Vets fell 9-7 to Winnipeg and 6-5 to Beulah, N.D. After having Saturday off Bemidji played two more games on Sunday, dropping a rematch to Beulah 9-6 and defeating Mandan 3-1.

Both Sunday games were five innings because event organizers wanted to conserve time.

"Our goal never was to win this tournament," Johnson said. "Our objective was to improve by playing better teams. And this weekend was a learning experience."

The majority of the teams in the field were Legion programs and included players with two more years of experience. And that is exactly what Johnson was looking for.

"We need to play better teams to help us prepare for the quality of teams we will face in the district and, hopefully, the state tournaments," Johnson said. "We also wanted to branch out and play different teams."

Sunday against Beulah the Vets spotted the North Dakota team a 7-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth. Bemidji closed the gap with four in the lower half of the stanza but Beulah iced the win with a pair in the fifth.

The VFW scored its first run in the third inning when Trent Baker reached on an error and Drew Peterson doubled him home.

In the fourth Nick Conner reached on another defensive miscue and walks to Nick Hovila and Dom Hayle loaded the bases. Baker plated a pair with a double and Ryan Hirt followed with a 2-run single.

Bemidji's final run came in the fifth when Connor McNallan walked and eventually scored courtesy of Hayle's sacrifice fly.

Devin Barrett took the mound loss. Hovila also pitched.

Bemidji salvaged a victory in its final start, edging Mandan 3-1. Cody Labernick and Drew Peterson limited Mandan to only two hits while Bemidji's offense produced four.

The hurlers did issue nine walks, including seven in the three innings. Bemidji's defense, however, turned three double-plays in the three innings to keep Mandan off the board.

Among Bemidji's hits was Hovila's double to open the bottom of the first. Hovila moved to third on McNallan's groundout and scored on Baker's shot to third.

In the third inning Billy Baumgartner doubled and McNallan singled him home. Hirt doubled to begin the fourth and eventually scored on Nick Conner's grounder.

The Vets have played their first 10 games on the road and will take a 7-3 record into Wednesday's home openers against East Grand Forks. The opening game was originally set for 2 p.m. at BSU but has been moved to noon to accommodate the Legion's game against Thief River Falls which will follow.

Beulah, N.D. 202 32 - 9 5 4

Bemidji VFW 001 41 - 6 4 1

Sandowski, Nelson (W) and Zachs. K-3, BB-6

Barrett (L), Hovila (4) and Labernick. K-4, BB-5

Mandan 000 10 - 1 2 0

Bemidji VFW 101 1x - 3 4 0

Wanner (L) and Zettleman, L-0, BB-1

Labernick (W), Peterson (4) (S) and Buckanaga. K-8, BB-9

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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