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VFW Baseball: Benson upends Willmar in District 5 playoffs

WILLMAR -- Morgan Staton, one of the smaller players on the diamond Tuesday, played big and that helped the No. 5 Benson VFW tip No. 4 Willmar 6-4 in the first-round of the District 5 Tournament.

Staton gave up 10 hits but walked only one. His pitches got more difficult to hit in the late innings when his curve ball started to bite.

Cole Hagen's leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth was the lone Willmar hit off the right-hander in the final three frames.

Catcher Cody Hammerschmidt, who started for the Braves' varsity team last spring as a sophomore, was the Benson hitting leader. He doubled and twice singled in his first three at bats, scoring twice and knocking in a teammate.

Willmar did all they could to help Benson along.

Starter Josh Warne hit three Benson batters including two in a row to start the third inning when Benson scored three times to go ahead 3-2.

Willmar outfielders mishandled two base hits allowing runners to take an extra base, and they committed six errors in addition.

Still, Willmar went ahead 4-3 in the fourth scoring twice on four hits. Buzzy Tollefson's RBI double drove in one run and he was singled home by Patrick Courtney.

But in the top of the fifth, the Willmar infield committed three consecutive errors to promote a two-run rally that put Benson up 5-4.

Benson scored another unearned run in the sixth, this one off reliever Courtney, who allowed one hit and no walks throwing the final 21/3 innings.

The tournament now moves to Montevideo for its final four days: Benson plays in the winner's bracket at 5 p.m. on Friday; Willmar plays in the loser's bracket at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Benson 6, Willmar 4

Benson 003 021 0 -- 6 5 4

Willmar 110 200 0 -- 4 10 6

HITTING - Benson: Morgan Staton 1-for-4, sac; Cody Hammerschmidt 3-for-4, 2 runs, 2 rbi, 2b; Austin Norby 1-for-4, rbi ... Willmar: Buzzy Tollefson 2-for-4, 2b, 2 rbi; Patrick Courtney 2-for-4, 2 runs, rbi; Brandon Christenson 2-for-4, Cole Hagen 2-for-4, rbi; Sam Schaefbauer 2-for-3

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Benson: Morgan Staton (W) 7-10-4-3-1-6 ... Willmar: Josh Warne (L) 42/3-5-5-2-2-4, Patrick Courtney 21/3-1-1-0-0-3