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VFW Baseball: Bemidji advances to state tournament

FERGUS FALLS -- It's on to the state tournament Aug. 7-9 in Brainerd for the Bemidji VFW baseball team.

On Sunday Bemidji won the sub-state tournament in Fergus Falls by edging top-seeded Perham 5-4 in the championship game. The Vets, who were seeded second in the five-team tournament, played four sub-state games and three of them were against Perham. On Friday they battered No. 3 Fergus Falls 14-1 and on Saturday they advanced to the championship series with a 4-0 victory over Perham.

The top-seeded team eliminated East Grand Forks and then handed Bemidji an 8-5 loss in the opening game of the title series.

Bemidji recovered, however, and edged Perham 5-4 to claim the crown.

"I think having to play that final game and winning it made us a tougher team," said VFW coach Ryan Sander."It was a weekend that saw everybody contribute. Everybody did something of value to get us to state. It was a great weekend for the team."

In the opener against Fergus Falls Bemidji took a 3-0 lead with a pair of runs in the third inning and, after Fergus Falls drew within 2-1 in the fourth, Bemidji settled the issue with two in the fifth and 10 in the sixth, needing only three hits to score those 10 runs. Fergus Falls' defense committed four errors in the stanza and the pitchers issued five walks.

Caleb Carlson and Cam Boen each had a pair of hits and Grant Carlson went the distance on the mound.

In Saturday's win over Perham Nate Larson tossed a 3-hit shutout, fanning eight and walking five. He also scored the game's initial run as he singled in the first inning, stole second and third and completed his trip around the bases on a throwing error.

Bemidji added two runs in the fifth as Caleb Carlson singled, Otto Grimm reached on an error and singles by Boen and Larson plated the runs.

In the seventh inning singles off the bats of Boen, Jared Young and Larson combined for an insurance tally.

Larson and Boen each contributed a pair of singles.

Perham forced an extra championship game by topping the VFW 8-5 Sunday morning, scoring the eventual winning runs in a three-run sixth.

Bemidji scored three times in the third as Larson walked, Caleb Carlson singled him in, Grimm followed with an RBI triple and Boen added a sacrifice fly.

The Vets took a 4-3 lead in the fifth as Carlson walked and Alex Blooflat belted an RBI double.

Perham, however, tied the game with a pair in the lower fifth and three in the sixth. Bemidji closed the scoring with one in the seventh as Grimm doubled and Brendan Takkunen singled him home.

Grimm blasted a triple and a double and Takkunen contributed a double and a single.

In the decisive game Bemidji opened a 3-0 lead in the third. With two down, Jake Amble began the rally by reaching on an error and, after stealing second, he scored courtesy of Larson's single. Caleb Carlson plated Larson with a double and Boen singled home Carlson.

Doubles by Grimm and Boen combined with Zack Seitz' RBI single for a pair of runs in the upper fifth but Perham chipped away with solo runs in the fifth and sixth innings.

Perham continued its comeback in the seventh as it scored two runs before Larson came in to pitch and ended the game on a ground ball with the bases loaded.

Bemidji will take a 22-7 record into the state tournament and Sander believes that the Vets can do well at the meet.

"I think we have a talented team and we could make some noise at state," he said. "To do that we will have to stay mentally sharp but we are playing very well now and are playing like a team."

Fish fry today

The Bemidji VFW and American Legion baseball teams will host a fish fry fundraiser from 5-7 p.m. today at the Bemidji American Legion.

Cost is $12 for a fillet, two sides bread and salad.

All proceeds will go to the American Legion and VFW baseball teams.

The event will double as a sendoff for the VFW team before they depart for the state tournament next week.

Sub-State Tournament

Bemidji 002 02(10) - 14 8 0

Fergus Falls 000 10 0 - 1 7 7

G.Carlson (W) and Young.K-3, BB-2

Bemidji 100 020 1 - 4 10 3

Perham 000 000 0 - 0 3 0

Larson (W) and Young. K-8, BB-5

Murphy (L) and Perrine. K-8, BB-0

Championship Series

Bemidji 003 010 1 - 5 7 4

Perham 101 123 x - 8 1 1

Grimm, Larson (L, $), Carlson (6) and Young. K-4, BB-7

Rich (W) and Perrine. K-5, BB-5

Championship Game

Bemidji 003 020 0 - 5 8 1

Perham 000 011 2 - 4 4 1

English (W), C.Carlson (7), Larson (S, 7) and G.Carlson. K-1, BB-3

Perrine (L), Meyer (5) and Stoll. K-5, BB-3

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200