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Willmar takes care of Litch

SPICER -- Jordan Smith isn't a one-man team. Some days, it just seems that way. The Willmar Legion pitcher/infielder socked a pair of solo home runs and pitched brilliantly at the front end and the back end of a 6-4 win over Litchfield on Friday ...

Power stroke
Jordan Smith of the Willmar American Legion belts his second homer -- this one to straight-away center field -- in the seventh inning of a District 7-I playoff game against Litchfield Friday at the Green Lake Diamonds in Spicer. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

SPICER -- Jordan Smith isn't a one-man team.

Some days, it just seems that way.

The Willmar Legion pitcher/infielder socked a pair of solo home runs and pitched brilliantly at the front end and the back end of a 6-4 win over Litchfield on Friday afternoon.

Coupled with Alexandria's 13-7 win over Marshall, Willmar and Alexandria will play at 1 p.m. today at Green Lake Diamonds in an American Legion District 7-I winner's bracket game.

Litchfield outhit Willmar 10-7, but eight of those hits came off Scott Skaalerud, who took the mound to start the fifth inning with Willmar up 5-0.

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Coach Dave Oehrlein was trying to conserve Smith's innings; the Legion rule is a pitcher cannot throw more than 12 innings over three days. Skaalerud had trouble with his control in the seventh, walking three around hits by Matt Spreiter, Brian Malepsy and Nick Buschette. Malepsy's single drove in two to make it 5-3.

In the eighth, an infield error and then singles by Brady Smith and Chris Thompson, to drive in Spreiter, made it 6-4.

With two outs, Smith walked back to the hill. He fanned Litchfield leadoff hitter Eric Hulterstrum to end the inning, and then struck out the side in the ninth around a single by Buschette.

Smith finished with 12 strikeouts over 5Zc innings. Plus, he had three assists in the third inning when he fielded three comebackers -- meaning he had a direct hand in 15 of the 16 outs he pitched.

The St. Cloud State recruit homered to the 352-foot marker in left-center field his first at bat. In the seventh, he sent a rocket to center at the 370 mark.

Litchfield pitcher Aaron Valiant finished with a seven hitter with four walks and six strikeouts. He gave up single runs in the first three innings with RBI hits going to Justin Hamann in the second and Alec Saunders in the third.

Logan Birkland's two-run double to the center-field fence (sans batting eye due to the July 14 tornado) made it 5-0 after four.

John Sawatzky, who caught Friday, is slated to pitch against Alexandria.

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Oehrlein expects Alexandria, and whoever else Willmar might play, to pitch around Smith, which will put pressure on the four, five and six hitters to produce the rest of the tournament.

The championship game is now scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday, it was announced.

Willmar 6, Litchfield 4

Litchfield 000 000 310 -- 4 10 1

Willmar 111 200 10x -- 6 7 1

HITTING - Litchfield: Eric Hulterstrom 1-for-5, Brian Malepsy 1-for-5, 2 rbi; Nick Buschette 2-for-4, 2b; Shane Gutormson 2-for-5, Matt Spreiter 2-for-3, 2 runs, 2b; Brady Smith 1-for-3, Christopher Thompson 1-for-3, 2 rbi ... Willmar: Logan Birkland 1-for-4, 2b, 2 rbi; Jordan Smith 2-for-4, 3 runs, 2 solo HRs, 2 rbi; Alec Saunders 1-for-4, rbi; Josh Oestreich 1-for-3, Scott Skaalerud 1-for-2, Justin Hammann 1-for-2, sac, rbi

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- Litchfield: Aaron Valiant (L) 8-7-6-6-4-6 ... Willmar: Jordan Smith (S) 5Zc-2-0-0-1-12, Scott Skaalerud (W) 3Xc-8-4-3-4-4

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Stealing second
Willmar's Adam Fagerstrom, right, slides head first into second with a stolen base as Litchfield second baseman Kurt Gartner can't come up with the catcher's throw in the second inning. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

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