Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.
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GREEN ISLE - The 2016 Class C state champion Raymond Rockets baseball team kicked off their title defense in grand style, thumping Mora 10-1 on Sunday in their opening game of the 2017 state tournament. Raymond's Kyle Knott homered, doubled and drove in four runs, and Justin Koenen had three hits, including two doubles, and three RBIs as the Rockets all but wrapped up the win with three runs in the top of the first inning. The Rockets added five runs in the fourth and two more in the seventh.
WILLMAR - A team that has been winning squeakers and another that's been winning big will face off in the VFW State Baseball Tournament's winners' bracket final today at Bill Taunton Stadium. Woodbury Red, which hung a loss on Willmar on Thursday, won its third game of the tournament, 3-2, over Luverne on Friday. Woodbury opened the tournament on Thursday with a 3-2 win over Rochester and then edged Willmar's Post 1639 3-1 in its second game on Thursday.
WILLMAR - Willmar VFW Post 1639 benefitted greatly from a solid pitching staff all summer, but Woodbury Red's Adam Ahlgen and Ben Borrman proved just a tad better in a VFW State Baseball Tournament game on Thursday. Ahlgen and Borrman combined to allow just an unearned run on five hits and struck out 12 in Woodbury's 3-1 win over Post 1639 in its opening-round game at Bill Taunton Stadium. a second-round game. Willmar fell into the tournament loser's bracket and plays at noon today at Swansson Orange. Willmar needs to win to avoid elimination.
The Willmar VFW Post 1639 will host the 63rd annual VFW Baseball State Tournament Aug. 10-13. The 10-team, double-elimination tournament for players 16 and under will be played at Bill Taunton Stadium and Swansson Orange. An Aug. 9 banquet at the Willmar Conference Center kicks off the three-day tourney that features 165 players and 30 coaches. Willmar's 13-player roster is led by head coach Tom DeBoer and assistant coaches Mark Owens and Tyler Steen.
SPICER - New London-Spicer ran into the stellar arm of Pierz' Preston Rocheleau and were not able to move beyond pool play in the Division II Legion State Tournament, falling 7-0 on Saturday at Green Lake Diamond. Pierz earned a spot in Saturday's semifinals and defeated Caledonia 8-7 before winning the DII state championship with a 5-1 victory over Proctor on Sunday in Spicer. NLS could afford the Saturday loss but had to keep the runs-allowed to four to have a shot at reaching the semifinals. Rocheleau allowed just three hits, didn't issue a walk and struck out 11.
WILLMAR - Team Minnesota's Danny Anderson shot a 6-under 66 on Sunday to claim the Midwest Cup individual championship by a stroke over three other competitors at Eagle Creek Golf Course. Anderson, of Eagle Creek, shot a three-day total of 208, one shot better than Minnesota teammates Andy Jacobson, also of Eagle Creek, and Justin Burleson. Team Kansas' Bradley Lane also tied for second. Jacobson made a spirited run on Sunday, shooting a 7-under 65 for a runner-up finish.
Team Missouri holds a four-point lead over Team Minnesota and two Minnesota golfers are tied just one stroke off the lead after Day Two of the Midwest Cup on Saturday at Eagle Creek Golf Club
WILLMAR - Justin Burleson shot a 6-under 66 for a one-shot lead and two of his Team Minnesota teammates edged into the top five during the first round of the Midwest Cup on Friday at Eagle Creek Golf Club. After Day One, Team Minnesota leads the 54-hole, eight-team tournament with 117 points. Missouri is second with 107 and Kansas is third with 85. Twenty five of the 79 competitors shot par or better on the first of three 18-hole rounds.
WILLMAR - The Willmar Stingers scored nine runs in the first four innings, then held off Rochester from chipping away a six-run lead and defeated the Honkers 10-7 on Friday at Bill Taunton Stadium. The Stingers, led by Alex Reyes' six runs batted in, ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 14-8 in the Northwoods League North Division second-half standings. The Stingers are a game behind first-place Eau Claire and get a chance to make up ground on the Express with a pair of games in Eau Claire today and Sunday.
Spicer's Green Lake Diamond will be host to the American Legion Division II State Baseball Tournament this weekend, and the nine team field includes the New London-Spicer and BOLD Mudhens teams. NLS received an automatic berth as the tournament host and the BOLD Mudhens won the District 7 also are in the field. Two of the six opening-day games on Friday will be played in Paynesville, with the remaining games on Friday, Saturday and the third-place and championship games on Sunday played at Green Lake Diamond.