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Benson's Dan Martin, left, is forced out at second base by Dylan Hoffman of Granite Falls during a District 7-II American Legion baseball playoff game Tuesday in Montevideo. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

Benson extends postseason streak

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MONTEVIDEO -- Benson continues to live on the razor's edge separating agony and victory.

Post 62 scored with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning on a wild pitch Tuesday to nip Granite Falls, 5-4.

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The win to open the District 7, Division II American Legion baseball final four is Benson's fourth in a row in the postseason -- each by one run.

Benson (9-7) won only twice in the high-school season and was 4-7 before winning the last game of the summer regular season.

Pitcher Brennan Kent, who threw the first six innings but was not involved in the decision, commented in the press box after the win: "We're surprised to be here."

Granite Falls (12-8), which also made a 3-0 run in the sub-districts, was poised to overtake Benson in the top of seventh.

Down 4-3, Taylor Tollefson led off with a single, the eighth hit off of Kent. Manager Jeff Guest waved in Andrew Simmonds from first base to switch with Kent.

After a passed ball, Derek Dyrdahl greeted Simmonds with a triple to the gap in right center allowing Tollefson to score easily from second and tie the game, 4-4.

Dyrdahl stayed at third, however. Simmonds got a strikeout followed by two ground outs to end the inning.

Dyrdahl was throwing his second inning in relief of Tollefson, who allowed eight hits and four runs (three earned) over five innings.

Peter Berens led off the bottom of the seventh with a single.

Benson clean-up hitter Cameron Simmonds grounded slowly to Austen Cole at third and Berens was able to take second.

Brook Guest, who was 3-for-3 with a triple, drove the ball deep to right-center field where right fielder Steve Kvam made a good catch but there was no play on Berens, who tagged and went to third.

From there he sprinted home when Dyrdahl's pitch to Andrew Simmonds skipped to the backstop.

"I don't know," said Dyrdahl. "The ball just seemed to stick in my hand ... (but) we can come back."

The double-elimination tournament continues Thursday, back at Montevideo.

Benson 5, Granite Falls 4

Granite Falls 110 001 1 -- 4 9 1

Benson 100 210 1 -- 5 9 0

HITTING - Granite Falls: Austen Cole 1-for-3, rbi; Phil Johnson 1-for-3; Taylor Tollefson 2-for-3, rbi; Derek Dyrdahl 1-for-3, rbi; Tyler Sand 2-for-4, 2b; Braden Lee 1-for-2, 2b ... Benson: Brennan Kent 1-for-4, Peter Berens 1-for-3, sac, 2 runs; Cameron Simmonds 1-for-4; Brook Guest 3-for-4, 2 rbi, 3b; Andrew Simmonds 1-for-3; Andrew Ebert 1-for-3, rbi; Anthony Frank 2-for-3, 2b, rbi

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Granite Falls: Taylor Tollefson 5-8-4-3-1-3, Derek Dyrdahl (L) 1Xc-2-1-1-0-0 ... Benson: Brennan Kent 6-8-4-4-5-8, Andrew Simmonds (W) 1-1-0-0-0-1

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Rand Middleton

Covers Willmar and area high schools and Ridgewater College, plus amateur baseball, stock car racing and fitness events in summer. Writes weekly column since 1980. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 

(320) 214-4334
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