The Morris VFW Post 5039 baseball team went 3-1 in the Starbuck tournament July 11-12 to earn a third-place finish and wrapped up the regular season with a 6-0 shut out over Benson Tuesday.
The final win brought Post 5039's District 5 record to 8-2 which was good for a second place tie with Madison. Willmar I is the league champion with a 9-1 record.
Morris will now play Montevideo in the first play-off game on Tuesday, July 21 at Chizek Field in Morris.
Morris has an overall record of 13-4.
In their opening round game of the tournament Saturday, Morris took on Albany. Post 5039 erupted for 11 runs in the bottom of the first inning on their way to a 12-5 win.
Eric Riley started on the mound for Morris and pitched two scoreless innings. He gave way to Ethan Bruer in the third inning and Tyler Hansen finished up, pitching the final two innings.
In the big first inning, Alex Erickson reached on an error and Hansen walked. After an out was recorded, E. Riley drove in both runs with a triple and he scored when he stole home. Brady Valnes then singled and Cole Riley reached on another Albany error. Walks to Travis Rinkenberger and Mitch Kill drove in another run. Bruer then singled in two runs and a wild pitch scored yet another run. Walks to Erickson and Hansen reloaded the bases and Ryan Beyer drove in two runs with a double. The final runs of the inning scored on a ground out off of the bat of E. Riley and another run- scoring single by Valnes.
The game was then scoreless in the second and third innings before Morris added another run in the bottom of the fourth when Cody Hickman led off with a single, stole second, and scored on a Hansen single.
Albany scored three times in the top of the fifth to avoid the game ending by the 10-run rule and then they added two more in the top of the sixth for the final score of 12-5.
Minneapolis S 4
In the second game of the tournament Morris ran into a good pitcher from Minneapolis South and an umpire with a very large strike zone. Alex Erickson pitched for Morris, throwing a complete game, giving up just five hits with no walks and eight strikeouts while allowing just one earned run in a 4-1 Morris loss. Five errors in the field cost Morris any chance to win this game.
Post 5039 got on the board first when Valnes reached on a wild pitch after striking out to lead off the second inning. Cole Riley then doubled in Valnes, one of only two hits in the game for Morris. Hickman had the other safety, reaching on an infield single in the seventh inning.
Morris held the 1-0 lead until the fifth inning. Rinkenberger kept Minneapolis South off the board in the second, throwing a perfect strike from left field to the plate to cut down a runner trying to score on a fly ball to end the inning. In the fifth, the lead off hitter reached on a single and was replaced on the base paths when the next hitter hit into a fielder's choice. He then stole second and advanced to third on another groundout. A wild pitch scored the run to tie the game and then Morris committed three straight errors to plate another two runs for a 3-1 deficit.
Another unearned run in the seventh made the score 4-1 and a two-out rally faded in the seventh as Minneapolis South held on for the win.
In their first game of the morning on Sunday, Morris defeated Browerville by a score of 10-0 in five innings. Rinkenberger went the distance in this game, giving up just three hits, while walking five and striking out five.
Morris scored once in the first when Erickson led off with a single, stole second and scored on an error. They added another run in the second on a lead-off triple by Rinkenberger and a single by Kill.
Post 5039 stretched their lead to 6-0 in the third when Beyer led off with a single, stole second and scored on a Valnes single. C. Riley then singled in Valnes and he scored on a Kill single. The final run of the inning scored on a Browerville error.
Three more runs in the fourth made the score 9-0. Hansen singled, stole second and third and scored when Beyer reached on an error. Riley tripled in Beyer and he scored on a wild pitch. They ended the game in the bottom of the fifth when Erickson singled and Hansen walked. Erickson reached third on a fielder's choice and scored on a ground ball off of the bat of E. Riley.
The tournament had what they called a "true third" format which forced Morris to play Albany again on Sunday afternoon. Post 5039 responded with one of their best games of the season, winning by a score of 9-1. They hit the ball well all day and committed just one error in the field. Hansen threw a complete game four hitter, losing his shutout on two doubles with two outs in the seventh.
Morris again started strong, scoring three times in the bottom of the first. Hansen hit a one-out single and Beyer walked. They both came around on an E. Riley double and Riley scored on a Valnes single.
Another run was added in the third when Beyer led off with a single and scored on another Valnes single.
Morris made the score 6-0 in the fourth when Ethan Bruer walked and went to third on an Erickson single. Hansen drove in Bruer with a single and Erickson scored on a double-play ground out.
Valnes singled in the fifth and the bases were loaded when Taylor Hufford walked and Hickman was hit by a pitch. Erickson then delivered a two-run single to make the score 8-0.
Morris tacked on their final run in the sixth when Beyer reached on an error and eventually scored on another Albany error.
The VFW closed out the regular season with a 6-0 win over Benson on Tuesday in Morris. Tuesday's game was originally scheduled to be played in Benson, but because of rain, the Benson field was not available and the game was moved to Morris. Because of the late switch, Benson remained the home team on the field and the second game of the night was not played.
E. Riley pitched the complete game shut-out for Morris, allowing just three hits with four walks and five strikeouts. Riley retired 11 straight Benson hitters at one point in the game.
Benson had the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, but a strikeout put an end to that rally and Benson advanced just one runner past second base for the remainder of the game.
Offensively, Morris got on the board in the top of the third when Hickman led off with a walk and advanced to second on a walk to Hansen. E. Riley then drove in Hickman with a two-out single.
Post 5039 got on the board again in the fourth when Bruer led off with a single and Hansen drew another walk. Beyer then drove in a run with single and E. Riley singled to load the bases. Valnes picked up an RBI on a fielder's choice ground out, E. Riley scored on a wild pitch, and Valnes scored when Cole Riley reached on a Benson error for a 5-0 Morris lead.
Morris added an insurance run in the top of the seventh when Beyer was hit by a pitch, stole second, and scored on consecutive wild pitches.