VFW Baseball: Running on all cylindersDuring a 4-7 start to the season, the Farmington VFW baseball team had a tough time getting its offense, defense and pitching all straightened out at the same time.
By: Matt Steichen, The Farmington Independent
During a 4-7 start to the season, the Farmington VFW baseball team had a tough time getting its offense, defense and pitching all straightened out at the same time.
All three phases of the game finally got in sync Thursday afternoon as Post 7662 pounded out 12 hits and played errorless defense behind starter Dayne Eich in a 16-1 victory over Benilde. Eich went the distance in the team’s first 10-run-rule decision of the season.
“Thursday’s game gave us a lot of confidence,” first-year coach Jacob Sand said. “The kids’ attitudes are much different when they’re winning like that and they begin to encourage their teammates a lot more. It’s nice to see.”
Especially encouraging was the first inning, where Post 7662 knocked seven hits and pushed across 10 runs. Matt Molitor, Zach Wallace and Stephen Barber started the rally with three straight hits. Then, after a fly out, five more runners reached base before Molitor cleared the bases with a triple. Molitor came around to score for the second time in the inning on a throwing error, and Wallace followed with a walk and a run scored of his own to cap off the inning.
Molitor, Wallace, Barber, Quinn Eden, Eich and Hoffman each scored twice in the contest and Molitor, Barber and Hoffman each had a pair of hits.
Meanwhile, Eich took care of the Benilde offense with five innings of one-hit ball. He worked around a walk and three hit-by-pitches by striking out three batters.
The defensive support given to Eich was missing a day earlier when Bloomington Blue took advantage of four VFW errors with three unearned runs in a 6-4 win in Farmington.
Bloomington’s three earned runs all came against Wallace in the top of the third inning. Four hits, a walk and a hit-by-pitch helped Bloomington stretch its lead to 4-0 and Wallace surrendered another unearned run in the top of the fourth before exiting in the fifth with a 5-0 deficit.
Post 7662 finally pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth when Austin Sutter led off with a single, moved to second on a Molitor bunt and scored on a Wallace RBI single.
Bloomington got that run back in the top of the sixth thanks to a pair of base hits and an infield error, Farmington’s fourth of the game.
“It seems like when we’re down we make a lot more errors. I think it’s a mental thing with this group of kids,” Sand said. “Against Benilde we were confident in the field, but against Bloomington they scored some runs and the kids got down and that’s when the errors were made.”
Trailing 6-1, Post 7662 plated three runs in the bottom of the seventh to make things interesting. After a pair of one-out walks, Barber drove home a pair with a double. Barber then crossed the plate on a base hit by Eden, who was left stranded when the third out was made.
Offense was easy to come by for Post 7662 Tuesday night in Bloomington. Post 7662 put together a pair of five-run innings and a pair of three-run innings in a 17-11 win over Bloomington Gold.
“We hit the ball really well Tuesday,” Sand said. “We kind of lost sight of what we were doing once we got up by seven or eight runs. Our pitching started throwing balls, then we came back with more good hitting and more bad pitching.”
Barber led the hitting with three singles and three runs scored. Zak Payne walked and scored three times before hitting an RBI single in the seventh and Wallace, Tommy Korbein, Eden, Josh Kallstrom and Sutter each added two hits to a season-best 18-hit attack.
Bloomington responded with 13 hits and 10 walks of its own, but pitchers Eden, Justin Wolff and Lusky combined to strand 11 runners on the base paths. Eden picked up the win, allowing one run despite yielding 10 base runners over the first three innings.
With the 2-1 week, Post 7662 improved its record to 5-7. The team played again at Bloomington Blue on Tuesday and at Edina on Wednesday. The schedule resumes this afternoon with a 3:15 game against Westside at the 17-under Babe Ruth Tournament in Apple Valley. The tournament continues with two games on Friday and the pool winners will resume play on Monday.