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VFW baseball: Post 7662 qualifies for districts

Farmington VFW second baseman Bobby Eckert receives a throw from the catcher during last Thursday's first-round game in the sub-district tournament in Hastings. Farmington won three out of five games to advance to today's district tournament in New Ulm.

For the first time in four years, the Farmington VFW baseball team is going back to the district tournament.

Post 7662, which now sports a record of 19-9-1, qualified by winning three out of five games at the six-team sub-district tournament last week in Hastings. A second-place finish earned the team a trip to New Ulm to take on No. 1 seed New Ulm Gold in the opening round of the district tournament tonight at 7 o'clock.

Post 7662 worked its way through the bracket the hard way at Hastings, losing its first game in the double-elimination tournament 7-2 after falling behind 4-0 in the first inning last Thursday against Eagan Red. The team then reeled off three straight victories, defeating Inver Grove Heights 8-1 on Friday, South St. Paul 8-1 on Saturday and Eagan Red 4-0 in Sunday's rematch.

In Sunday's championship game, Hastings pulled ahead 5-0 in the first and rolled to the sub-district title.

"We seem to play better when we're backed against a wall," Farmington VFW coach Mike Winters said. "We came out flat in the first and last games when there was nothing on the line. We need to have a consistent effort throughout next weekend to be successful."

Three clutch pitching performances carried Farmington through the loser's bracket in Hastings. JD Hinks struck out 10 in five scoreless innings against Inver Grove Heights Friday and came back to toss a complete-game shutout in Sunday's decisive game against Eagan. He allowed four hits and walked two while striking out 15 in 12 tournament innings.

In between Hinks' heroics, Austin Martinsen and Kyle Johnson combined to limit South St. Paul to one run on five hits on Saturday. Johnson also struck out five in two innings of relief against Inver Grove Heights.

Post 7662 plated five runs in the first two innings of their first tourney victory. The offense ended up producing just six hits, but drew nine walks.

Jordan Decrook scored three runs and Buck Lester and Johnny Dittman each scored twice.

Decrook had two more hits and three more runs scored against South St. Paul. Bobby Eckert, Ryan Geibel, Adam Closmore and Hinks each contributed two of the team's 12 hits.

Parker Holmstrom had two of the team's six hits and scored two runs as four sacrifice bunts set up all four runs Sunday against Eagan.