Eagan claims state VFW crown
Eagan finished strong Sunday to capture its first VFW state baseball title, beating Winona twice 11-5 and 14-8 at BSU.
It denied unbeaten Winona of its fourth crown but first since 1971.
Bemidji, the defending champ, hosted the meet for the first time in its 57-year history. It fell to Winona 2-0 and St. Paul RanView 4-1 to bow out at 1-2.
With both teams playing their sixth game in three days, the final made up in excitement for what it lacked in playing quality.
Both pitching and defense were in short supply.
The two teams committed 10 errors, six by Winona with the Patriots having three unearned runs and Winona four.
Eagan snapped a 1-1 tie with three in the second. But Winona scored once in the third and rolled in four in the fifth for a 6-4 lead.
Another pair in the fifth raised the margin to four.
But Eagan's bats came alive to roll up five in the fifth and five more in the sixth.
Matt Fielder struggled to go the route fanning four, allowing eight hits, The winners had 17 with all nine starters getting at least one.
First game win
Eagan used two big innings to win the first game, scoring four in the second and five in the fifth to widen a 6-2 lead to nine runs.
Winona's last inning rally fell far short.
The winners held a 13-9 hits advantage with seven starters having at least one. Lefty Kevin Kunik went the first six to get the win.
Next year's state meet will be at Mankato.
Winona became the first team to gain a final berth. Winona turned back Grand Rapids 6-4 in the winners bracket final.
Eagan beat RanView 8-4 in the late afternoon game and shaded Grand Rapids in the evening game 4-3.
With both teams down to their No. 3 starters, the Winona Rapids meeting resulted in a matchup of side arming right-handers Drew Thompson of Winona against the Rapids' Reed Holum.
Winona took a 2-0 lead in the first on four singles.
Grand Rapids tied the score in the third when Eli Mangni doubled and scored on David Liebe's single. Liebe crossed on an error.
But Winona took back the lead with two in the last of the frame The lead grew to 6-2 in the fifth on two singles and a sacrifice fly with Hunter Shepard relieving Holum to get the final out.
Owen Burnikel, who blanked Bemidji on three singles Friday, hitting a two run homer in the 2-0 win, relieved Thompson to start the fifth and breezed through the next two frames.
But in the seventh, singles by Liebe and Holum around a hit batter produced a run with a second scoring on a sacrifice fly.
But he retired the final batter on a grounder to third to end the game.
Grand Rapids 002-000-02---4--6--1
Holum, Shepard (4) and Bischoff
Thompson, Burnikel (5) and Marks
Winona 000-020-3----5-- 9--1
Kruse, Thompson (4) and Marks
Kunik, Zellar (7) and Loew
Winona 011-420-0--- 8-- 8--6
Rhode, Burnikel (5), Kronebusch (6) and Marks
Fielder and Loew