Just short of state
Seven section tournament baseball games in a span of 72 hours finally took its toll on the Rosemount VFW team.
The VFW battled back from a second-round loss Friday night with four straight victories in the loser's bracket before its season came to an end one game short of a state tournament berth with a 9-2 loss to the New Ulm Jr. Legion team Sunday in New Ulm.
"We played a bunch of games and the kids were drained after the long, hot weekend," said VFW coach Scott Eul, whose team finished with a record of 23-7. "They were also tired mentally having so many games with so little rest and having to win every game. They were able to stay in the tournament with a lot of energy and determination."
Rosemount opened the tournament with a 5-4 win over New Ulm Thursday, but then fell to the loser's bracket after an 8-7 loss to Mankato. The team advanced to Saturday thanks to another strong offensive display and a five-inning shutout by Mitch Olson in an 11-0 win over Shakopee Friday night.
Rosemount opened Saturday with a 7-4 win over New Ulm, then used Morris Valenzuela's complete-game shutout to get some revenge on Mankato with a 9-0 victory in the semifinals.
The win advanced the VFW to Sunday's championship round, where it had to win twice to overtake a New Ulm Jr. Legion team that strolled through the 10-team tournament's first three rounds with three victories.
The VFW continued its tournament-long habit of scoring runs early in Game 1, pushing two across in the first and three more in the second to take a 5-1 lead. Connor Wolf and Reese Richards started the first with a pair of walks and both came in on a two-RBI double by Matt Wells.
The second inning featured a single, an error and two walks before Richards delivered a two-run single.
Olson allowed two runs over five innings to pick up the win, then Valenzuela came on in relief to earn the save with two innings of scoreless work.
Rosemount trailed 3-1 midway through the second game before the New Ulm Jr. Legion team used a couple of hits and a couple of errors to score six runs and take control of the game. Morris' RBI double in the sixth accounted for the final Rosemount runs of the season in an eventual 9-2 loss.