The Winona VFW Buddies will be hosting tryouts for the upcoming summer season on Saturday April 12th at Noon until roughly 2:30 p.m.and Sunday April 13th Noon- 2:30 p.m. at Winona Cotter High School's baseball field. Tryouts generally last a couple of hours, but variables like weather and numbers can cause the tryout to be longer or shorter in duration. Please show up 10 minutes early on Saturday to register. More information to follow leading up to tryouts.
Winona VFW Buddies Practice Times Set for Summer
The Winona VFW Buddies have set their practice times for the summer. Practices will take place Mon, Tues, Thursday and Friday from 1 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. at the latest at Winona Cotter High School's baseball field. Some of these days might be optional as the season progresses, but plan on these times. Majority of games take place on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
O'Brien, CHS to Host Spring Training Camps
Even with what appears to be a never ending winter, spring baseball is only a month away! Cotter High School's coaching staff lead by Head Coach Matt O'Brien, will be running a hitting camp and a throwing/pitching/fielding camp in March. The focus will be on drills and fundamental development with a coaching staff of around 8 coaches there to instruct.
The camps are open to the public with the exception to the high school age students. No Cotter student in grades 9-12 can participate in the camps as State High School League rules prevent high school coaches from working with their own high school athletes. So any high school athlete NOT from Cotter can participate, and any junior high student from Cotter CAN participate. Please click on the handouts on the left side of the page and click on Spring Camp Flyer. Fill out and return to the address at the bottom of the flyer. Any other questions feel free to ask. email@example.com
Buddies Finish Season 2nd in District
From WDN/Winona Buddies
NORTHFIELD, Minn. — The Winona Buddies took the first game Sunday 8-2 over Owatonna but weren’t able to get past top-seeded Northfield in the championship game of the Minnesota VFW District 1 Final Four, taking a 10-5 loss.
Mac Whaley drove in three runs in the first game to help the Buddies (14-16) build a 7-0 lead in the third inning, and Matt Clark added a double and two more RBI. Jonah Spiten also reached base all three times at plate while adding two runs.
"To beat a team of Owatonna's caliber shows just how much our team has grown throughout the season," Winona VFW Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We peaked at the right time and played some outstanding baseball down the stretch."
Josh Forst picked up the win, scattering six hits, while striking out five in a complete game.
"Josh has been incredible all season on the mound, he's such a competitor," O'Brien said. "Today was no different, he was in complete control and it was fun to watch."
In the District final, Northfield got off to a quick start with four runs in the first, and Winona wasn’t able to recover. Sam French put Winona on the board in the third inning with a two-run single. Spencer Rudnik (4-4, 2 2B), Matt Clark (3-4), and French (2-3, 2 RBI) lead the Buddies at the plate.
"For a twelve seed to give the top seed all it could handle shows the type of kids we have," O'Brien said. "Our boys have nothing to hang their heads about, they represented the Winona community to the fullest and we are extremely proud of them."
The Buddies ended their season 14-16, but reached the District Final for just the second time in the last 10 years.
The Winona VFW Buddies, who have done some of their best work in the postseason with their backs against the wall, find themselves in the same position after splitting a pair of District 1 Final Four games Saturday.
Winona, the No. 12 seed, rallied from a 7-1 deficit against top-seeded Northfield only to lose its first game 12-11 in eight innings.
But the Buddies shook off that disappointment to beat 10th-seeded Rochester Century 8-4 and stay alive in the double-elimination tournament.
Winona (13-15) plays sixth-seeded Owatonna at 1 p.m. today in Northfield. The winner plays Northfield again at 3:30 p.m., needing to beat the host team twice — the second game, if necessary, would be played Monday — to advance to the state tournament.
“We battled back (against Northfield) and actually took the lead,” said Buddies coach Matt O’Brien, whose team scored 12 runs in the seventh inning in last week’s division tournament game against Cannon Falls to rally from a 13-7 deficit. “It was kind of a see-saw, back-and-forth game. It was good to see our kids have such resiliency. Our kids just keep competing, keep battling and battling.”
Matt Clark was 3-for-5 with three RBI against Northfield. Spencer Rudnik had a double and two RBI.
Against Rochester Century, the Buddies shook off a rocky start.
“It got kind of sloppy,” O’Brien said. “But the kids were able to weather the storm through the first four. The last couple innings woke us up a little bit more.”
Josh Forst had a two-run hit in a four-run sixth inning for the Buddies.
CANNON FALLS, Minn. — The Winona VFW Buddies used two early runs to kill any momentum Albert Lea brought into the game and take a 3-1 win Sunday in the VFW District 1 Tournament.
The Buddies (12-14) scored twice in the first inning, using three walks and an RBI single from Sam French to swing the momentum in their favor.
“Albert Lea was swinging the bats really well and we knew we had to get to them early,” Buddies coach Matt O’Brien said “It killed the momentum that they had early in the tournament. It let us play more comfortably.”
Josh Forst helped slow down the hot bats of Albert Lea with five strikeouts in a complete-game win.
CANNON FALLS, Minn. — Winona Buddies coaches Matt O’Brien and Matt Cada tell their baseball team that the game has a way of coming back to them.
They never thought it’d come back like this.
Down by six heading to the final inning, the Buddies sent 17 batters to the plate and scored 12 runs to shock host Cannon Falls 19-13 in the divisional round of the VFW District 1 tournament Saturday.
“We’re pretty speechless,” Cada said. “It just seemed like we couldn’t do anything wrong.”
Down 11-3 at one point and 13-7 heading into the seventh, the 12th-seeded Buddies (11-14) exploded with nine hits in the inning. The capper was a bases-clearing triple from Spencer Rudnick that gave Winona a 16-13 lead.
“You could sense momentum had shifted,” Cada said. “It was over.”
Rudnick finished 4-for-4 with five RBI for the Buddies, who’ll play in the division championship game at 3:30 p.m. today against either the same Cannon Falls team or 13th-seeded Albert Lea. The Buddies will have two chances to win the title game and advance to the district final four.
Andy Tofstad, one of five pitchers the Buddies used in the game, drove in four runs. Josh Forst had three RBI.
Earlier in the day, Matt Masyga held the fourth-seeded Rochester Knights to four hits over seven innings in a 3-1 victory. Matt Clark went 2-for-4 with two RBI.
The Winona VFW Buddies head to the St. Cloud VFW Tournament starting this Friday at 11:15 a.m. at Dick Putz Field against N. St. Paul. If the Buddies win, they would play again on Friday night at Joe Field at 6:15 p.m. If they lose their first game, they would not play again until Saturday morning 10 a.m. at Joe Faber Field.
Errors Prove to be Costly for Buddies
The Winona Buddies weren’t able to overcome three errors in a 6-4 loss to Austin.
Austin scored all six of its runs on three errors commited by the Buddies, the biggest of which came in the sixth inning and allowed Austin to score four runs, all with two outs.
The Buddies (6-11, 4-8) took the lead on a two-run single in the first inning off the bat of Nick Evans. Winona had more chances but left the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth innings.
Josh Forst took the loss but struck out six without allowing an earned run in 5 2/3 innings.
A pair of four-run innings spurred the Winona Buddies team to an easy VFW win Tuesday over Stewartville.
The Buddies won 9-1 behind a fine performance on the mound from Spencer Rudnik, who pitched all seven innings, struck out nine and walked none.
“Our pitching has been nearly flawless this year, and he’s been one of the guys who’s stepped in and pitched some big innings,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “You can see him getting more and more comfortable on the mound.”
The Buddies (4-8, 3-6) broke a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning by scoring four runs to grab a 5-1 lead. They expanded that with another four runs in the sixth. Josh Forst, Matt Zaborowski and Andy Tofstad all chipped in two hits for Winona. Rudnik had two RBI.
“We spent all day yesterday just working on our swings, and we had 11 hits, but we’re still progressing in our hitting,” O’Brien said. “It was good to see some things coming around. Once we get our bats going like this we can beat anyone in our league.”
The Winona VFW Buddies have had a string of close games that haven’t gone their way this summer.
It was more of the same on Saturday as they lost to the Rochester Rockets 4-3 and Northfield 4-0.
“I keep telling our guys that our record isn’t really indicative of how well we’ve played,” Buddies coach Matt O’Brien said. “We’ve had good pitching and we struggle to get timely hits. We’ve also played good defense, but we seem to make a mistake at the wrong time, and we’ve been playing good teams, so they capitalize.”
Rochester’s Eric Boysen delivered an RBI groundout in the bottom of the ninth inning to secure the win over Winona.
Spencer Rudnik had the lone RBI to go with two unearned runs for the Buddies.
Northfield’s Tyler Meland then shut down Winona (2-6, 3-8) on four hits.
For the Buddies, Jonah Spiten reached base three times against Northfield.
The Winona VFW Buddies couldn’t convert on their opportunities Friday in a 3-1 loss to St. Cloud Apollo in the first round of the Winona Invitational. The Buddies (3-6) left two baserunners on in the sixth and stranded another in the seventh with the tying run at the plate.
“They walked us five times, and we had four hits,” Buddies assistant coach Matt Cada said. “We couldn’t get that one hit to help us, though.”
Andy Tofstad singled and scored on an error in the second for the Buddies’ only run. All three of Apollo’s runs came in the fourth, and all were unearned.
The Winona VFW Buddies baseball team salvaged a doubleheader split Sunday.
After dropping the first game 8-3, the Buddies came back to beat Kasson-Mantorville 8-0 in a shortened second game.
Josh Forst picked up the win striking out three in three innings after a weather delay shortened the game from five innings to three.
Dylan Banicki provided a spark at the plate, driving in three runs on a pair of doubles to help the Buddies (3-4, 2-3) extend their lead with a six-run third inning. Banicki finished the day with three doubles and was 4-for-6.
Matt Masyga needed only 63 pitches to throw a seven inning, complete game, no-hitter on Friday against visiting Rochester Century.
Masyga (2K, 3 BB), used a variety of pitches and a solid defense to shut down Century 8-0.
"Matt did a phenomenal job attacking hitters today," Winona Buddies' Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "He's got great composure and doesn't try to do too much on the mound. We needed a good outing to get us back on track and he was terrific."
Masyga also received some early breathing room as the Buddies put up five runs in the second inning, highlighted by a bases clearing double from Matt Clark. Clark would have a huge day at the plate going 3-4 with a double and 4 RBI. Jonah Spiten (1-3, 2 RBI) and Spencer Rudnik (1-3, RBI) also contributed to Winona's offensive attack.
Masyga's no-hitter is the second no-hitter the Buddies have had in the last seven years (Jared Gilbertson).
"Hopefully, this will give us a little momentum and confidence heading into the weekend," O'Brien said. "It's still early, but we want to start making strides to playing better baseball."
The Buddies return to action Saturday at home for a double header against Albert Lea at 11 a.m. at Cotter Field.
The Winona VFW Buddies (1-2, 1-3) struggled with the bats in their home opener en rounte to a 6-0 loss to Cannon Falls (5-2, 6-2).
The Buddies struck out 9 times while only mustering four hits (Matt Clark, Josh Forst, Andy Tofstad, and Matt Hoffman) against Cannon Falls' pitcher Quinton Lindow.
"We had some bad at bats today," Winona Buddies' Assistant Coach Matt Cada said. "You've got to have a plan going to the plate, and we didn't do that today."
Matt Zaborowski took the loss on the mound for the Buddies. Zaborowski went 4 innings, struck out 2, walked 5, and hit 2 batters. He gave up 4 runs, but none of them were earned as the Buddies committed five errors on the day.
"Defensively, you can't give that many free passes to a good team," Cada said. "Our pitchers need to throw strikes and our defense has to make plays when they do."
The Buddies return to action Friday at home against Rochester Century at Cotter Field at 5 p.m.
The Winona VFW Buddies (1-1, 1-2) earned their first win of the season over Red Wing in a First District league game on Wednesday. The Buddies used a four run first inning and scored two more in the second in cruising to a 6-2 victory.
Nick Evans threw six innings for Winona, allowing 2 unearned runs, on 6 hits, while striking out 4 and walking 2 in the win.
"Nick was terrific today," Buddies' Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "He kept hitters off-balance and had great rhythm all game long."
Offensively, Matt Clark (2-3, RBI), Andy Tofstad (2-4, 2 RBI), and Matt Zaborowski (2-3, RBI) lead a 11 hit Winona attack.
"It was a good day at the ballpark today," O'Brien said. "Defensively we've been strong, it was fun watching the hitting start coming around."
The Buddies return to action Wednesday June 19th at 5 p.m. at Cotter Field against Cannon Falls in a First District match up.
The Winona VFW Buddies opened up the season on the road with a pair of losses to the Owatonna Huskies (2-0. 5-0). The Buddies dropped the first game 4-0, and 3-0 in the second game.
In game 1, Winona (0-1, 0-2) had no answer for Owatonna starting pitcher, Trey Fails. Fails, threw a complete game shutout, striking out 10, walking 2, and scattering five hits.
"We probably saw one of the best pitchers in our district today," Buddies' Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "Fails threw hard and pounded the outer part of the zone. He was impressive."
Jonah Spiten highlighted game 1 for Winona, contributing two of Winona's five hits.
Game 2 was much of the same, as Andy Tofstad's lone single was the only hit Winona could manage in the five inning game. Owatonna's Nick Medo, picked up where Fails left off, striking out 6 in just 3 innings of work.
"We struggled at the plate today," O'Brien said. "That's going to happen early in the season, we just have to learn to make adjustments at the plate and get more reps in practice. We'll be ok."
Winona is back in action Wednesday June 12th at 5 p.m., as the Buddies travel to Red Wing for a First District match up.
The Winona VFW Buddies will be having their first practice on Sunday May 26th with time to be announced. We are in the process of moving Wednesday's game of that week to another date. This Sunday we would also like to collect apparel orders to start getting the items shipped. This season Bob and Amy French have volunteered to be our parent representative for our program, which is very appreciated. They have created an email account for our program (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we ask that everyone please e-mail that address with the following family contact information ASAP:
Player, Player cell phone # (if applicable), Player e-mail, Parents' names, Parents' cell phone #, House Phone #, and Parents' e-mail. We'd like to get going on making a schedule for the fish fry and this will make it easier to get a hold of everyone throughout the season. More information to come, please keep checking back.
Congrats to the Winona VFW Buddies roster of 2013
Congrats to the Winona VFW Buddies 2013 roster:
Check the website for updated information about practices, etc.
Winona VFW Buddies Tryouts for 2013 Summer
The Winona VFW Buddies will be hosting their annual baseball tryouts Sunday April 28 and Sunday May 5 with times TBA. The tryouts will be held at Winona Cotter high school's baseball field. Each day is an evaluation of a different skill set or live situation. For this reason we ask players to participate in both tryout days. However, it is not mandatory for a player to be at both days and still make the team.
Eligible to play if 16 and under as of June 1, 2013. All freshmen and sophomores are eligible to tryout, as long as they do not turn 17 before June 1, 2013.
-The Buddies play in a 15 team division that includes four Rochester teams, Northfield, Red Wing, Austin, Faribault, Albert Lea, Mantorville, Cannon Falls, Waseca, Stewartville, and Owatonna. Winner of the District Tournament advances to the State VFW Tournament (there is only one state tournament for all teams).
-League games are generally on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. (single game) and double headers on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11 a.m.
-The Buddies compete in one tournament besides playoffs, the St. Cloud VFW Baseball Tournament in St. Cloud, MN. We will stay over night for the St. Cloud tournament. This is arguably the biggest 15/16 year old tournament in the state besides the state tournament. The two fields (Dick Putz and Joe Faber) played at are two of the best fields in the state of Minnesota.
-The VFW Buddies philosophy's focuses primarily on the development of its players so that they can have successful high school careers and the VFW program's success on the field.
-As far as playing time, the Buddies will play what their coaches feel is the best line-up for league games and those who do not play in the first game of the double header will start the second game. Every practice is an evaluation of the players and the coaches are always looking for the players that are doing all the little things; putting in extra time before/after practice, following the coaches' instruction, being a good teammate, and a player's improvement.
-The Buddies baseball program is a commitment and those who make the team are expected to be at practices as well as games. We give players 5 days to miss in the summer before playing time starts to be affected.
Former VFW Alums Participating at the College Level
The Winona VFW Buddies wanted to congratulate all of the former VFW Buddies who will be participating at the college level this spring! The current class of VFW alums playing college is one of the biggest in quite some time.
Brandon Beech and Zach Benson are in their 2nd seasons at Viterbo University.
Lance Jensen is in his first season at Ellsworth Community College.
Arik Jacquart is in his 2nd season at Rochester Community and Technical College.
Joe Miller is in his 2nd season at the University of Minnesota-Crookston.
Dan Karnick is in his first season at the University of Dubuque.
Best of luck to all of you this spring!!
Buddies season ends with 10-1 loss
From Winona Daily News
After a heartbreaking loss, the Winona Buddies couldn't muster the gusto to keep their season going.
After an extra inning game on Saturday that ended with the Buddies losing 12-11 to the Rochester Spartans, the Buddies lost control, losing to Owatonna 10-1 Sunday, ending their run at a state tournament berth.
"I really think that game yesterday took the wind out of our sails," Buddies coach Matt O'Brien said.
The Buddies (21-8) struggled in the game. Pitching, defense, and hitting all suffered.
"We got in good hitter counts. We just did not take advantage of those counts," O'Brien said. "We got ahead in the count and helped them out by getting ourselves out."
Even though the season ended flatly, O'Brien said he was happy his team got 20 wins and made the final four, and looks forward to returning three of his starters next year.
The Winona VFW Buddies advanced to the District Tournament (Final Four) which will be held in Rochester, MN at Rochester Mayo's high school field.
The Rochester Spartans will host the tournament and be the #1 seed, the Winona VFW Buddies will be the #2 seed, Red Wing will be the #3 seed, and Owatonna the #4 seed.
Here is the format for the District Tournament (Double Elimination):
Saturday July 28th
Game 1 #1 Rochester Spartans vs #4 Owatonna at 10:00 a.m.
Game 2 #2 Winona Buddies vs #3 Red Wing at 12:30 p.m.
Game 3 Loser of Game 1 vs Loser of Game 2 at 3:00 p.m.
Game 4 Winner of Game 1 vs Winner of Game 2 at 5:30 p.m.
Sunday July 29th
Game 5 Loser of Game 4 vs Winner of Game 3 1:00 p.m.
Game 6 Winner of Game 4 vs Winner of Game 5 3:30 p.m.
Monday July 30th
Game 7 If necessary, repeat of Game 6 5:00 p.m.
Buddies Advance to First District Tournament
From Winona Daily News
The Winona VFW Buddies had two games against the Rochester Rockets to find a win.
The Buddies lost the first game 4-2 but got their needed win in game two by a score of 4-3 at Cotter Fields on Sunday.
With the win, the Buddies advance to the double-elimination First District Tournament, which will be played next weekend. The winner will advance to the state tournament.
"It definitely had my heart racing today," Buddies coach Matt O'Brien said.
The Buddies scored first in game one with a two-run third inning but allowed the Rockets to string together hits to score four runs in the sixth.
"They just hit the ball," O'Brien said.
"We just couldn't seem to get out of that inning."
The Buddies left eight runners on base in the first game.
"We kept getting guys on base, but we could not break the game open," O'Brien said.
O'Brien didn't think game two was very different other than the final score.
"To be honest, game two was very similar," O'Brien said. "It was a grind-it-out game where you just try to manufacture runs."
The biggest play of the game may have been in the seventh inning when Buddies' right fielder Drew Thompson lost a pop-up in the sun but threw out a Rockets runner who tried to advance to third on the play.
"It landed next to him and Thompson threw a laser to third," O'Brien said.
The Rockets would have been down a run, with runners on first and third with no outs, had Thompson not thrown out the runner.
"That was basically the momentum of the game," O'Brien said.
ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL ROCKETS 4, WINONA BUDDIES 2
Rochester 000 004 0? 4 6 0
Winona 002 000 0? 2 5 1
Pitchers: R Bain; W Fakler, Walters (6) WP?Bain (1k, 3w). LP?Fakler (1k, 0w).
Leading hitters: R?Halvorson 2-4; W?McNally (2b), Puetz 2-3.
WINONA BUDDIES 4, ROCHESTER JOHN MARSHALL ROCKETS 3
Rochester 100 020 0? 3 8 0
Winona 200 200 0? 4 7 3
Pitchers: R Jake Ditmer; W Block, Walters (6). WP Block (3k, 2w). LP?Walston (2k, 7w). S Walters (0k, 1w).
Leading hitters: R Aakre 3-4, Rieter 1-4 (2b, 2 rbi); W McNally 2-3 (2 rbi).
The playoff schedule for the weekend is as follows (three team tournament). Teams are #2 Winona, #7 Rochester Rockets, #10 Stewartville
Double elimination tournament, winner moves on to District Tournament July 28th and 29th.
Saturday July 21:
Game 1: 11 a.m. #10 Stewartville vs #7 Rockets
Game 2: 1:30 p.m. Winona vs winner of game 1
Game 3: 4:00 p.m. Winona vs loser of game 1
Sunday July 22: If all teams are 1-1
Game 4 - #10 Stewartville vs #7 Rockets 1:00 pm
Game 5 - Winona vs. winner of Game 4 3:30 pm
OR (if one team is 2-0 and the other is 1-1)
Game 4 - 2-0 team vs. 1-1 team 1:00 pm
Game 5 - if necessary game 3:30 pm
Buddies rebound at St. Cloud tourney
Portion from Winona Daily News
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The Winona Buddies rebounded after a tough first day at the St. Cloud tournament this past weekend.
After going 0-2 on the first day, playing powerhouses such as Mahtomedi, the team that won the tournament, and St. Cloud Cathedral — whose loss in their first game of the tournament was their first of the year — the Buddies went 2-0 on Sunday.
The Buddies won 4-0 in game one against Duluth, then pounded St. Cloud Apollo 16-4 in five innings.
Zach Hefel's bat sparked Winona's win over Duluth. Hefel was 2-2 with a double and an RBI, while Nic Wiseman (1-3, RBI) and Brian Puetz (Suicide Squeeze) also contributed.
On the mound, Drew Fakler and Hefel combined to shut down the Husky bats. Fakler picked up the win (4 IP, 2 H, 3 K's, 1 BB, 2 HBP) and Hefel (3 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 0 BB, 2 HBP) earned the save.
“We know we’re going to play some really good competition,” Buddies coach Matt O’Brien said of the St. Cloud tournament. “It was just one of those days where everything was coming together.”
Against St. Cloud Apollo, the Buddies’ bats came alive and allowed the team a little revenge as well. Apollo came down to Winona earlier this season and beat the Buddies 7-6 and 7-5.
“We had a little bit of revenge on our minds, so we came ready to play on that one,” O’Brien said.
The Buddies erupted for 9 runs in the first inning and 16 hits in the game. Fakler (3-3, 3B, 5 RBI), Puetz (3-4, 3B, 2 RBI), Hefel (2-3), Matt Masyga (2-4, RBI), Garrett Block (2-3, 3 RBI), and Josh Forst (2-2, 2 RBI) had big games offensively.
The Buddies are back in action on Tuesday July 17th, when they host South St. Paul at 5 p.m. at Cotter Field.
The Winona VFW Buddies dropped a pair of games at the St. Cloud Tournament. Winona lost to Mahtomedi 3-2 and St. Cloud Cathedral 7-1.
"The best two teams we played all year," Head Buddies' Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We just couldn't execute and make too many mistakes."
In game 1 against Mahtomedi, the Buddies got off to a 1-0 lead in the third inning. Isaac Pape singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, and Brian Puetz followed with a bunt single. Drew Thompson would drive in Pape via an error on Mahtomedi's shortstop.
That would be enough for Buddies' starting pitcher, Patrick McNally until the bottom of the 5th inning. Two walks, two hits, and one Buddies error would lead to 3 Mahtomedi runs.
The Buddies would score 1 run in the top of the seventh, but leave the tying run at second base.
McNally was the tough luck losing pitcher, tossing 5 innings, allowing 3 runs, on 5 hits, while striking out 4, and walking 3.
"Patrick threw very well," Buddies' Assistant Coach Matt Cada said. "We had one bad inning and that was the game."
The Buddies pounded out 7 hits, but couldn't get the timely hit to break the game open. Puetz (2-3, 2B, RBI), Pape (2-3), and Garrett Block (2-3) lead Winona offensively.
In game 2, Winona could not figure out St. Cloud Cathedral pitcher Jeff Fasching in a 7-1 loss.
Fasching, went the distance, limiting the Buddies to just 3 hits, while striking out 12 and walking 4.
"He's (Fasching) tough," O'Brien said. "He was throwing whatever he wanted to throw, wherever he wanted to throw it. He was very impressive."
On the defensive end, the Buddies didn't make it very easy for their starting pitcher Garrett Block.
Winona committed 5 errors in the first 3 innings of the game, allowing Cathedral plenty of extra outs and giving Fasching more than enough runs to work with.
"It seems very repetitive to say this," O'Brien said. "You just can't give teams extra outs, good teams will make you pay for it, and once again that hurt us."
On the bright side, the Winona Buddies have the second seed in the First District playoffs locked up.
But with their 7-4 loss at the hands of the Rochester Spartans on Wednesday, the Buddies missed out on a golden opportunity to be the top team headed into those playoffs.
Buddies coach Matt O’Brien would prefer to be the regular-season title holder, but with the second seed in place, at least part of the postseason will take place in Winona. And his team also got to learn a little bit in wake of the loss.
“It’s not a major disappointment,” O’Brien said. “We probably learned a little bit more about ourselves today.
“I think the biggest thing to take away is the fact that when you play good team, you have to play a complete game to win.”
Winona (15-4, 9-2 First District) committed seven errors, and some of those miscues allowed the Spartans (8-2 First District) to score four runs.
And with the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth innings, the Buddies just couldn’t make the comeback.
“These guys were a quality team, and tonight we made way too many mistakes, and offensively we couldn’t capitalize on getting guys in,” O’Brien said.
The Spartans ended the Buddies’ seven-game win streak. Although this loss doesn’t guarantee Rochester the top seed, O’Brien was pretty certain they would be able to earn it in remaining league games.
“It’s always nice to win the regular-season title,” O’Brien said. “You never want that complacency. We can’t just turn it on and turn it off when we want to.”
The Buddies will have plenty of chances to redeem themselves. Although they only have one league game remaining, they have a tournament in St. Cloud this weekend as well as the upcoming divisional playoffs.
Much more than the opportunity to sleep in their own beds is on the line for the Winona VFW Buddies.
Following an 8-4 win over Cannon Falls Tuesday, the Buddies — who are 15-3 overall, 9-1 in the First District — are in first place and face the second-place Rochester Spartans at 5 p.m. today at the Cotter baseball fields.
The winner will clinch the regular-season crown and the top seed heading into the division tournament July 21 — which means they host the tournament.
And avoid sleeping in unfamiliar beds.
“You always want to play in your backyard,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “You don’t want to travel. We want to have our fans there and eat home-cooked meals. Hosting is a big deal.”
The two teams haven’t played this season. Teams play each other only once, so the Buddies can only compare scores to common opponents.
“It’s show up and find out,” O’Brien said. “We are playing good ball right now and we hope to keep the momentum.”
That boost was helped by a five-run inning Tuesday in a game that was suspended June 21 due to weather.
Cannon Falls (6-4) led 4-1 in the top of the fifth when the game was suspended, but Winona scored five runs in the bottom of the inning when play resumed. Winona added two more runs in the sixth to close out the game and ease O’Brien’s concerns.
“I was a little worried heading into the game that we wouldn’t play with an urgency,” O’Brien said. “But, I almost hate to say it, we couldn’t do anything wrong.”
Matt Clark hit a two-out single to drive in two RBI, ending the game 2-for-3 with three RBI.
Reminder that the Buddies host Cannon Falls at Cotter, on Tuesday, July 10th at 6 p.m. to finish a suspended game that has Cannon Falls leading 4-1 heading into the top of the 5th inning. Winona hosts the Rochester Spartans on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Cotter Fields before heading to St. Cloud for a tournament that weekend.
Buddies stay on top in standings
From Winona Daily News
The Winona VFW Buddies (14-4, 8-1) were hitting on all cylinders Sunday as they outscored Faribault 22-5 in a doubleheader to remain on top of the First District standings.
Drew Thompson hit a two-RBI double in the second inning to help the Buddies take the opening game 14-3 and added two more hits in an 8-2 victory to end the day.
Winona scored in eight out of the 10 innings, including all five of the opening game.
“Drew is one of the leaders,” Buddies coach Matt O’Brien said. “He leads by example.”
The Buddies scored four unanswered runs to end the day.
“This is one of those games where we need to get momentum,” O’Brien said. “It will get us ready going into the playoffs.”
Pitching was another strong point today for Winona, which has thrown 12 pitchers this year.
Patrick McNally and Matt Masyga pitched five innings, allowing five hits apiece.
“We preach throwing strikes,” said O’Brien. “They forced batters to put the ball in play.”
McNally struck out six batters while Masyga managed three, and the duo combined for seven walks.
Thompson, McNally and Brian Puetz are the only three players returning from last year’s state runner-up team, and the team will look for leadership from all three as it nears the end of the season.
The Buddies will finish a postponed game against Cannon Falls on Tuesday before facing off against the second-place Rochester Spartans in a game that could decide the top seed in the divisional playoffs.
Here are some updates/notes that Buddies' enthusiasts should be aware of. The Buddies next game is Friday, July 6th, at 6 p.m. Winona hosts Arcadia in a nine inning game, at Gabrych Park.
Winona will make up its suspended game against Cannon Falls on Tuesday July 10th at 6 p.m. at Cotter fields. The game will pick up in the top of the 5th inning, with the Buddies trailing 4-1.
Our first game in the St. Cloud tournament is Friday July 13th at 4 p.m. at Dick Putz Field against Mahtomedi. If we win we play that night at 8:30 p.m. at Dick Putz Field, if we lose we play on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. at Joe Faber Field.
The t-shirts the kids received our $22 total and checks can be made out to Winona VFW baseball.
We need a copy of each players' birth certificates as soon as possible to have on file during tournament time.
Winona Splits, Ends Losing Streak
The Winona VFW Buddies, after winning their first eight games found themselves in unfamiliar territory in their last three games. After losing to Red Wing on Wednesday and dropping a game to St. Cloud on Friday, the Buddies fell once again to St. Cloud on Saturday morning. In their second game on Saturday, the Buddies snapped their three game losing streak in dramatic fashion, defeating the Rochester Rockets with a walk off win.
"We've been looking forward to playing quality competition and that's what we got this weekend," Head Winona VFW Buddies' Coach Matt O'Brien said. "St. Cloud has a great tradition of successful teams, and this team may be one of the best we see all year."
In the St. Cloud game, the Buddies fought back to take a 5-4 lead into the top of the 7th inning.
St. Cloud's bats heated up and after four consecutive singles, the Buddies were trailing and before the inning was over, St. Cloud lead 7-5.
Winona would score 1 run in the bottom of the 7th inning, but would leave the tying run at first base.
Drew Fakler started on the mound for Winona and went 6 innings, allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, on 5 hits, while striking out zero, and walking 1.
"Drew threw well," Assistant Buddies' Coach Matt Cada said. "We committed five errors behind him, and he held his composure and gave us a chance to win."
In game 2, the Buddies picked up a First District League win over the visiting Rochester Rockets in exciting fashion.
The Buddies had a 5-3 lead entering the top of the seventh inning, when the Rockets scored 2 runs to tie the game and force the game to the bottom of the seventh inning.
Drew Thompson, who would finish with the complete game win on the mound for the Buddies, lead off the inning with a single. Garrett Block would advance Thompson to second base via sacrifice bunt. A Matt Clark single would bring Thompson to third base, and an intentional walk to Chris Hansen would load the bases for Patrick McNally, with one out.
McNally, who had 1 hit in his previous 10 at bats, lined a single down the third base line, past a diving third baseman, scoring Thompson and giving the Buddies a much needed First District League win.
“Our team needed that win,” O’Brien said. “Patrick was in a little slump, but when you have a work ethic like he does, it was only a matter of time before he came through for us.”
Winona is off until Friday July 6th, when they host Arcadia at Gabrych Park, for a nine inning game, starting at 6 p.m.
Buddies’ rally falls short against St. Cloud Apollo
From Winona Daily News
The Winona Buddies took a two-run lead, fell behind by five runs, then mounted a late rally.
In the end, however, it was St. Cloud Apollo that dealt Winona a 7-5 loss Friday at the Cotter field.
Sam French went 2-for-3 for the Buddies, including a two-run, bases-loaded single in Winona’s three-run seventh inning. St. Cloud’s Ethan Carlson was able to get out of the jam and earn the complete-game victory. Carlson struck out five and walked three.
“We played better today but had some mistakes,” said Winona coach Matt O’Brien, whose team committed five errors.
“We are playing some pretty good competition. These games are going to help us down the stretch.”
Nick Walters added a pair of hits and two RBI for the Buddies (8-2), while Garrett Block doubled.
Josh Forst took the loss for the Buddies, who play St. Cloud Apollo again at 11 a.m. today, then face the Rochester Rockets at approximately 2:30 p.m. Both games are at the Cotter field.
Matt O’Brien called the beginning of Wednesday’s game a “worst-case scenario.”
O’Brien, the Winona VFW Buddies baseball coach, felt that whatever could go wrong in the first four innings of his team’s matchup with Red Wing did.
Unfortunately for the Buddies, they couldn’t recover from those early miscues, falling to Red Wing 7-1. It was the first loss of the season for Winona (8-1, 5-1 First District).
“We made early errors and they capitalized on them. That put us behind early and we got a little frustrated,” O’Brien said. “From the start of the game, we struggled and a good team like that will always take advantage.”
Red Wing (6-2 First District) scored two runs apiece in the first and second innings and tacked on another three runs in the fourth. Michael Digelbach went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and an RBI while Ty Buck went 3-for-4 with an RBI for Red Wing, which capitalized on five Buddies errors.
Isaac Pape went 1-for-2 with an RBI and Drew Fakler went 2-for-3 for Winona.
“We consider this to be the first team that has really tested us,” O’Brien said. “We needed to see what adjustments we need to make and what we need to work on.”
The Winona VFW Buddies continued their winning ways by sweeping the Northfield Knights in a First district double header.
Winona (8-0, 5-0) received great pitching from Drew Thompson and was able to manufacture runs early en route to a 8-0 victory.
Thompson, went six innings, struck out 5, walked 5, and limited Northfield to threw 3 hits.
"Every time Drew takes the mound he gives us a good chance to win," Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "He walked a few more batters than what we would have liked, but he did a great job keeping his composure and using his defense."
The Buddies carried a 1-0 lead into the fifth inning. Thompson drew a leadoff walk. Brian Puetz followed with a bunt for a hit. Garrett Block's sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third, followed by a Patrick McNally walk. After a fly out, Chris Hansen delivered a single, driving in two runners, and an overthrow allowed a third runner to score, giving the Buddies a 4-0 lead and some breathing room.
That would be more than enough for Thompson and Winona's defense. The Buddies tacked on four more runs in the top of seventh to finish with the 8-0 win. Hansen (2-4, 2 RBI), Isaac Pape (1-1, 2 RBI), and Sam French (1-4, RBI) paced the Buddies' eight hit attack.
In game 2, Winona busted out the bats, which included a six run fourth inning, cruising to a 11-1 victory.
Nick Wiseman (2-3, 3 RBI) and Nick Walters (2-4) lead the attack, while Josh Forst (1-4, RBI) and Pape (1-4, RBI) also contributed.
On the mound, the Buddies used three pitchers to quiet Northfield's bats. French started for the Buddies and threw three near perfect innings. Walters followed with 2 innings of shutout ball, and Arron Hohensee shut the door with the final 2 innings of the game.
"It was a good day for us at the ball park," O'Brien said. "Pitching and defense were solid and we're finding different ways to score runs, which is a sign of a good team."
The Buddies return to action Wednesday, at Winona Cotter Fields, at 5 p.m. Winona hosts Red Wing in a First District showdown of two of the top teams in the First District.
The Winona VFW Buddies (3-0, 5-0) ran their win streak to five games after pummeling Stewartville 15-1 and 19-1 in a First District League double header.
In the opener, Winona blew open the game with an 11 run third inning in which the Buddies scored 9 runs before receiving an out. In addition to the Buddies 11 hits, they were also walked 12 times.
"That's our style of play," Buddies' Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We try to be very selective at the plate. We always want to hit our pitches and this is what happens when we execute that philosophy."
Garrett Block (2-3, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI), Brian Puetz (2-3, 2 R, 2B, RBI), and Chris Hansen (2-3, 4 RBI) paved the Buddies offensive assault.
Patrick McNally would silence Stewartville's bats on the mound. McNally went all 5 innings, striking out 8, walking one, and scattering 4 hits.
Game 2 was very much of the same as game 1. The Buddies would wait until the fifth inning before exploding for 11 runs en route to a 19-1, five inning shortened game.
Issac Pape (2-4, SB, 2 RBI), Sam French (2-3), and Nick Wiseman (2-4, RBI) had multiple hits for the Buddies. Matt Masyga (1-3, SB, triple, 3 R) and Drew Fakler (1-2, 3 BB, 4 R, 2 RBI, 2 SB) filled up the stat sheet as well.
The Winona VFW Buddies are back in action Wednesday June 13th at 5:00 p.m. as they travel to Rochester, to take on the Rochester Knights at Hudson Field.
The Winona VFW Buddies swept a double header from the Mantorville Mets by scores of 6-4 and 6-0 to improve to 2-0 in First District Play and 3-0 overall.
In game 1, the Buddies scored 6 runs on 4 hits, 2 of those hits off the bat of Drew Thompson (2-3, RBI). Matt Clark (1-4, 2 RBI) and Patrick McNally (1-3) accounted for the rest of the Buddies hits.
On the mound, Drew Fakler went 5 innings, allowing 2 runs, striking out 2, walking one, and scattering 5 hits in the game 1 win. Brian Puetz threw the last 2 innings, striking out 3, walking 2, while picking up the save.
In game 2, Winona exploded for 6 runs on 10 hits, while shutting out Mantorville, and limiting the Mets to 2 hits.
Chris Hansen, who took a no-hitter into the 6th inning, finished the game with 6 strike outs, 4 walks, and 2 hits, in the complete game shutout win.
"We've had three good outings out of our pitchers in our first three games," Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "Chris did a great job mixing his pitches and Drew used his defense to help him get outs."
At the plate, Clark (2-3, RBI) and Puetz (2-4, 2 2B, RBI) lead the Buddies offensive attack, while Fakler (1-3, 3B) and Josh Forst (1-4, RBI) followed with contributions of their own.
"Another good team win," O'Brien said. "We've got a lot of work to do, but the boys keep getting the job done."
Due to a correction in the schedule, we now have a double header in Stewartville, MN on Sunday June 10th at 11 a.m. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause. We also have finalized the Owatonna make-up date to Wednesday July 18th at 5 p.m. at Winona Cotter Field. This is just a single game.
The VFW practice schedule is now on the summer schedule of 1 p.m. practices. Please plan on practices ending at 3:30 p.m. now that school is out.
The fish fry is tomorrow (Friday), please get a hold of Brenda, Patrick McNally's mom, if you have any questions about working.
Game Tomorrow at Rochester
Tomorrow we open the season with Rochester Century at Rochester Century high school. Here is the address Century HS 2525 Viola Road NE
We are not meeting tomorrow, so please try to arrive at the field by 4:15/4:20 p.m dressed and ready to go. If you're having trouble finding the field, please give Coach Cada a call 507-313-6177 for directions.
Practice/jerseys hand out
Reminder we will take care of all jerseys tomorrow. Also players make sure you look at the handouts section and check youth vacation days like we talked about at practice today.
Also, I know all of you have received your fish fry tickets, if you could let the coaches know how many you've sold so far and how many you anticipate to sell that'd be great. Remember if you have trouble selling the tickets, let the coaches know and they might be able to help you sell them.
Sunday's game vs Owatonna has been cancelled due to Owatonna's graduation. We are working on rescheduling the game for a later date, which means we will play our first game Wednesday June 6th at 5 p.m. at Rochester Century.
Let Coach O'Brien know if you are going to have problems selling your fish fry tickets, as he might be able to point you in a couple directions.
We will practice today at 4 p.m. (Thurs), Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. No practice on Sunday, 4 p.m. on Monday, 4 p.m. Tuesday, and game on Wednesday.
Our practices usually last around 2 hours.
Fish Fry Tickets
For those who were unable to get fish fry tickets, we will hand them out at practice on Wednesday. Please pass the word along to teammates that we are having our first practice this Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Cotter's baseball field.
Fish Fry Tickets/ First Practice
Hello all. With the first game approaching next weekend, we need to get some things taken care of as soon as possible.
First, I will be at the Winona Senior High varsity baseball playoff game tomorrow 11:00 a.m. (Monday) May 28th at Winona High's baseball field, if anybody wants to pick up their fish fry tickets. Otherwise, families could drop by Cotter's varsity baseball practice tomorrow (Monday) any time between 4-6 p.m. If neither of those times work, e-mail Coach O'Brien and we can work something out. Remember the fish fry is June 8th, so we need to be on top of selling the tickets.
We are going to set the first Buddies practice for Wednesday May 30th at 4 p.m. at Winona Cotter High School's Field. If you are playing on your high school's varsity team, do not practice with the Buddies until your season is finished. Concentrate on your high school's season.
Uniforms, schedules, etc., will be handed out during the first couple of practices. Once again, don't worry about your jersey until your high school season is complete.
Sweat pants and t-shirts for practice, also suggest bringing water bottles.
Correction to last post
Apparently, we are doing a fish fry and not a chicken q. This will be held at the Winona VFW 208 East 3rd Street and we will need workers from 4:00 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. as the event starts at 4:30 and ends at 7 p.m.
When people purchase tickets, remind them that we do carry outs and deliveries as well. Each meal consists of Premium cod, fries or baked potato, slaw, and bun. These meals are delicious.
New Buddies Information
Hello all! I can't believe how the VFW season is right around the corner, and so let the excitement begin!
Our Fish Fry fundraiser that we do every season will be held on June 8th. I am aware that this is the same date as WSHS graduation, but because our players aren't graduating, I didn't think this would be too much of a problem. Families can take meals to go as well and parents and kids can work in small blocks, so it won't take up a lot of time. This is our only fundraiser and everyone must help out with this fundraiser. I believe we will be having the kids sell 15 tickets for $8 a piece this season.
Remember the only charges the Buddies ask the players to pay for, are their under t-shirts which they get to keep, and the Fish Fry tickets which if you sell, you get your money back. I will be getting the tickets in the next couple of days and distribute them to players to start selling. In order to get the tickets, players need to buy the tickets first (checks can be made out to the Winona VFW baseball), and then they can sell them to get their money back. I am asking Brenda Litscher (Patrick McNally's Mom) as well as Rhonda Puetz (Brian's mom) to be our parent reps for this season. Those two will start working on a work schedule for that day as soon as I get them all of our parent contacts.
If all parents could e-mail email@example.com their primary e-mail and home and cell phone numbers, I can make a parent contact list to give to our parent reps and move forward with information.
I have also booked our players/coaches' rooms for the St. Cloud Tournament for July 13th and 14th. Our first game of the tournament is on Friday the 13th at 4 p.m. The players and coaches will be staying at the Holiday Inn and Suites Hotel Conference Center 75 South 37th Avenue St. Cloud, MN 320-253-9000. There are some open rooms available under VFW baseball if you want to stay at the same hotel as the team. You do not have to. The baseball complex is located at 5001 Veterans Drive St. Cloud, MN 56303.
As for a first practice, I am awaiting some information and then I will post that asap. We do open Sunday June 3rd at 11:00 a.m. at home for a double header against Owatonna, so as soon as I can get us going, I am going to.
Any questions please let me know via e-mail! Thanks!
Practice times for VFW
The Buddies are looking at having practice at 1 p.m. for the summer. We will not start practice until the high school seasons are complete. We are also unsure as of now what time we will practice at when the school seasons are complete and the boys are still in school. This will be determined by the results of the high schools in playoffs. Continue to check the website for updates.
For those who tried out for the VFW and didn't make the team, we are working with the other organizations to figure out how many kids we will have to make up the teams. We will have players contacted as soon as we get this figured out and everyone will have a place to play baseball this summer.
VFW Buddies 2012 Roster
The Winona VFW Buddies would like to thank all those that participated in this year's tryouts. The future is bright with the talent we witnessed at tryouts this past weekend. The decisions we had to make were very difficult and we wish all those who didn't make the VFW team the best of luck with their summer teams. Remember there are other options for summer ball if you do not make the Buddies and we strongly encourage those players to take advantage of those options. Wednesday I will post contact information for the other programs. Without further ado, in no particular order, here is the roster for the Winona VFW Buddies 2012 summer season:
1 Drew Thompson
2 Patrick McNally
3 Brian Puetz
4 Drew Fakler
5 Matt Masyga
6 Sam French
7 Nick Walters
8 Nick Wiseman
9 Chris Hansen
10 Josh Forst
11 Garrett Block
12 Matt Clark
13 Max Johnson
14 Zach Hefel
15 Aaron Hohense
16 Isaac Pape
Congratulations to those who made the VFW Buddies and once again thanks to all those who participated.
Winona VFW Buddies Tryouts Finalized
The Winona VFW Buddies tryouts have been finalized. They will be held Saturday April 28th and Sunday April 29th at Winona Cotter's baseball field. The Goodview Sandlot tryout will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, while the VFW tryouts will be held at 2 p.m. on those dates. Please arrive 15 minutes early for registration at the field.
VFW 2012 Schedule Posted and Finalized
The Winona VFW Buddies summer 2012 schedule is now posted. This schedule is finalized, so everyone can now plan ahead. We also are working on a date for our fundraiser, which is a chicken q.
Winona VFW Buddies Tryouts
We have finalized the Winona VFW Buddies tryout date for Saturday April 28th and Sunday April 29th at Winona Cotter High School baseball field.
Any person who does not reach their seventeenth (17) birthday before June 1, 2012 is eligible to play, this includes all freshmen.
We were also granted permission for all sophomores at WSHS to tryout if their birthday coincides with the rule above.
This tryout includes all those interested in playing Goodview Sandlot and the Morrie Miller teams.
At both high schools' spring eligibility meetings there will be a sign up sheet for summer baseball. Please fill out this form. If you miss signing up at the meeting, e-mail Coach O'Brien.
For more information on the tryout, contact VFW Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org
Here is the link for all the photos the state tournament took during the week and weekend.
BEMIDJI, Minn. - The Winona VFW Buddies didn't have enough gas left in the tank.
After four emotionally and physically exhausting games at the VFW State Baseball Tournament, the Buddies let a championship slip away to Eagan.
Winona lost 14-8 and 11-5 to Eagan in the championship round. Because of the double elimination format, Eagan had to beat Winona (29-10) twice while the Buddies had to only win one game in order to take the trophy home.
"It's bittersweet," Winona coach Matt O'Brien said. "It's obviously disappointing not to win, but these kids gave it everything they had. To finish second isn't bad. It will definitely be different not to have practice tomorrow, not to see these kids."
The two teams played in the second round of the tournament, where Winona won 2-1. In the two championship games, Eagan scored 25 runs after Winona allowed only a total of nine runs in the first four games.
"We put on our own hitting display," O'Brien said. "We weren't going to go away quietly."
In the second game, Winona overcame a three-run deficit to take an 8-4 lead after a four-run fourth inning.
Drew Thompson reached on an error and advanced to second on Drew Kronebusch's single. Both Skylar Marks and John DeMarais singled to drive in runs.
"We were back to playing our game," O'Brien said. "We put pressure on them."
Eagan returned the pressure, stringing together five-run innings in both the fifth and sixth.
"You could see they were drained," O'Brien said. "We were just tired. You play all of these good teams and it's tough to play five emotional, physical games."
In the first game, the Buddies struggled against Eagan's left-handed pitcher Kevin Kunik.
"We did not come ready to play," O'Brien said. "It was one of our poorest performances. We came out flat."
Winona had nine hits, but couldn't get a rhythm going to score runs. Two singles in the bottom of the fifth snowballed into five runs for Eagan in an inning the blew the game open.
Duellman makes key catch in Buddies' semifinal victory
Winona Daily News Staff
BEMIDJI, Minn. - Entering the top of the seventh inning, the Winona Buddies held a 6-2 lead over Grand Rapids. They only needed three outs to advance to the VFW State Baseball Tournament championship game.
Josh Duellman stepped up to make one of those outs.
With runners on first and third and one out, Grand Rapids hit a deep fly ball to left centerfield.
Duellman and Drew Thompson both called for it, but Duellman made the running catch.
Grand Rapids scored twice but Winona won 6-4.
Winona will take on the survivor of the loser's bracket at noon today. In the double-elimination tournament, the Buddies have to only win once to hoist the trophy.
"Josh came out of nowhere," coach Matt O'Brien said. "The catch stopped their run. If he didn't make that catch, they would have had the momentum."
Eagan, Ranview and Grand Rapids are the teams fighting for a shot at Winona. Coincidentally, those three also are the teams Winona has beat on its way to the title game.
"The game plan is the same," Thompson said. "Our coaches are 4-0 here. You have to give props to them."
Winona scored twice in the first, third and fourth innings and got doubles from Hunter Kruse, John DeMarais and Dan Kronebusch. Skylar Marks scored three runs and had three stolen bases.
"We really worked as a team," Duellman said. "We just need to get that early lead. It gives us a lot of insurance."
Before moving to the outfield, Thompson went after Grand Rapids, keeping his pitches low.
"My arm feels great," Thompson said. "I could go again."
Playing only four games in three days will give the Buddies options when it comes to pitchers. Owen Burnikel has pitched the most - 10 innings- and Bryan Rohde likely will get the start after having two days of rest following his complete game against Eagan.
Buddies March on to Winner's Bracket Championship Game
BEMIDJI, Minn. - In an important, pressure-packed game, Owen Burnikel came through for the Winona VFW Buddies.
Facing the host team and defending state champion in the quarterfinals, Burnikel met the challenge. He threw 81 pitches in a complete game and hit the game-winning home run to lead Winona past Bemidji 2-0 in the VFW State Baseball Tournament.
The Buddies will face Grand Rapids at 1 p.m. today in the semifinals. The winner enters to the championship at noon Sunday while the losing team plays at 7 p.m. Saturday for a second chance to reach the championship game in the double-elimination tournament.
As the host team, Bemidji had the majority of fans, and as the defending state champion, it had the confidence. The pressure was on the Buddies to come out strong.
"That was a big game," Winona coach Matt O'Brien said. "We just keep coming in and putting ourselves in a good position to win. (Burnikel) was outstanding."
With a 3-2 count and a runner on second, Burnikel's swing on an inside pitch changed the game in the bottom of the third. He was just looking to make contact to advance Tyler Kauphusman, who was on second base after a walk and passed ball.
"I was rounding first and everyone was yelling ‘home run,'" Burnikel said. "I'm like ‘sweet.' It just worked out."
Burnikel attacked batters with his change-up and fastball. Throwing the full seven innings didn't leave his arm too sore and it helped having a strong defense behind him.
"I can trust (the defense)," Burnikel said. "The batters got themselves out."
Bemidji threatened in the fifth with two outs and runners on second and third. Burnikel got the lead-off hitter to fly out to end the inning.
The Buddies next face Grand Rapids, a team they beat 5-3 July 8 in the St. Cloud Tournament.
In that game, Bryan Rohde, who went 2-for-3 against Bemidji, pitched a complete game, limiting Grand Rapids to four hits, while striking out seven and walking six.
BEMIDJI, Minn. — Drew Thompson’s arm saved the Winona VFW Buddies’ state tournament run on Thursday.
With two outs in the top of the seventh inning, Winona led Eagan 2-1.
Winona pitcher Bryan Rohde overthrew first base in an attempt to throw out Eagan’s Matt Fielder, who tried to advance to third when the ball went into right field. Thompson’s throw was spot-on as Owen Burnikel made the tag for the final out and the win that put Winona in the quarterfinals at noon today against host Bemidji, which is also the defending state champion.
“It was an absolute perfect on-the-line throw,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “We were 90 feet from a tie game if that wasn’t an out.”
Both pitchers went the distance as Rohde struck out eight and walked two.
“Bryan had another gutsy performance,” O’Brien said. “He went out there and attacked hitters right away. Our offense manufactured runs to help him out.”
Skylar Marks went 3-for-3 with a double and scored both runs for the Buddies. In the bottom of the first, he scored when John DeMarais grounded out. In the third, Marks scored on DeMarais’ flyout to left field.
Earlier in the day, the Buddies beat Ranview 6-3 in their first tournament game. Hunter Kruse pitched 51/3 innings, striking out three and walking four. Rohde went 2-for-3 with a double and two RBI.
The Winona VFW Buddies won their first state tournament game in 22 years defeating Ranview (Cretin Derham-Hall) 6-3. The Buddies are back in action today at 4:30 p.m. at Bemidji State University Field.
Here is the game schedule for the State Tournament in Bemidji, MN.
Tickets are Adult $9/day, 12-17 $5/day, 11 and under Free. No week passes. Programs $2.
Concession stand available: No outside food or beverages allowed in.
The Buddies kick start the entire tournament by playing in the first game of the tournament on Thursday August 11th at 9:00 a.m. at the Bemidji State University baseball field against 4th District Champion Ranview (Cretin-Derham Hall).
If the Buddies win their 1st game, they would play again on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at the Bemidji State University baseball field against District 2 Champion Eagan.
If the Buddies lose their 1st game, they would play again on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at the Prep North Field.
If the Buddies win both games on Thursday they would play again on Friday at 12:00 p.m. at Bemidji State University baseball field.
If the Buddies win their 1st game and lose their 2nd game, they would play again on Friday at 9:30 a.m. at the Prep North Field.
If the Buddies lose their 1st game and win their 2nd game on Thursday, they would play again on Friday at 9:30 a.m. at Bemidji State University baseball field.
If the Buddies lose their two games on Thursday, their season is over.
Bemidji State University Baseball Field is located at the corner of Bemidji AVE NW and 19th street NE across from Slumberland Furniture.
Prep North Field is located at 2221 Middle School Road NW (corner of 23rd street and Middle School Road) Located behind Home Depot.
Marks family has long connection to Buddies
By Jeff Theis Winona Daily News
Scott Marks remembers the day like it was yesterday. The date was Aug. 11, 1989, and Marks was with his teammates on the Winona Buddies playing Greenway Coleraine-Bovey in the quarterfinals of the VFW State Baseball Tournament in Moorhead, Minn.
Marks stepped to the plate in the first inning with two runners aboard and hit a three-run home run, the first home run of his career, to help lift the Buddies to victory.
The next day in the semifinals against Coon Rapids, Minn., Marks made a diving catch at third base and turned a double play in the fifth inning to help thwart a rally and help Winona advance to the finals, which it lost.
Fast forward to last year when the Buddies were about to begin their season. Marks' son, Skyler, was joining the team. Yes, shortly after, Dad started to break out the old Buddies stories. Suffice it to say, Skyler knows all of them at this point.
Probably by heart.
"Oh, yeah. He tells me about it all the time," Skyler said. "When he hit a home run at state, when he made a diving catch and doubled that guy off on third. He doesn't stop."
Coming into this season, Skyler wanted to make his own stories — and perhaps get his father off his back a little bit — and help the Buddies earn a state tournament berth.
On July 31, that became a reality when Winona defeated Northfield 4-0 in the First District finals in Red Wing, Minn., to advance to its first state tournament in 21 years.
Now it's Skyler's and the 2011 version of the Buddies turn to make their own mark.
The Buddies take on Ranview at 9 a.m. today in the opening round of the VFW State Tournament in Bemidji.
Being led by the likes of Skyler Marks, Bryan Rohde, Hunter Kruse, Owen Burnikel and a number of others, the Buddies have reached this point through good teamwork, according to Scott Marks.
That's what Scott Marks sees when asked to compare the team that made the state tournament when he played with this Buddies team.
"It's what you dream of," Scott Marks said. "That's where they're at after all of their hard work. They are a complete team. That's kind of the way we were.
"We didn't have one or two guys carrying us. It was a complete team effort. That's what they have and they might not even know it yet."
Skyler Marks is one of the leaders for the Buddies. Marks, the team's leadoff man, is hitting .435 to go with 17 stolen bases and 28 RBI.
"He's always there for me," Skyler Marks said of his dad. "He has helped guide me through some tough times. I know he's been through what I've been through and he's helped me play the game since I was little."
As players, Scott and Skyler Marks have both played for the Buddies, but that's where the similarities end. Scott spent time at third base and shortstop and admitted that he wasn't too fast.
Skyler, on the other hand, is a catcher, carries a higher average and steals bases.
"He's much faster than I ever was," Scott Marks said of Skyler. "His speed is out of this world. He's a better hitter, too. He makes things happen out there."
As for the upcoming state tournament, Scott's advice to Skyler isn't as much about winning and losing, but about enjoying the experience.
"You just have to cherish every game," Scott Marks said. "You never know if it could be your last game. I hope they take it like any other game and have fun."
Winona VFW Buddies Heading to State!!!
Red Wing, MN
The Winona VFW Buddies are heading back to state for the first time in 22 years after winning the First District title Sunday in Red Wing, MN.
The Buddies defeated Northfield 10-5 in comeback fashion to advance to the state tournament in Bemidji, MN August 11-14.
The Buddies trailed 4-0 going into the bottom of the second before scoring 3 runs on two outs. With runners on 1st and 2nd, Josh Duellman singled in Hunter Kruse and Drew Thompson advanced to third and Duellman to second on the throw home. After a wild pitch scored Thompson and advanced Duellman to third, Skyler Marks beat out an infield single to score Duellman and cut the deficit to 1.
"Josh really came through for us when we needed something positive to get us going," Buddies' Assistant Coach Matt Cada said. "He's been a real spark plug at the bottom of our order and that at bat was big."
Northfield tacked on one run in the third and the Buddies responded with 2 of their own in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 5.
In the bottom of the fifth, Winona broke the game open with three runs highlighted by a two run double from Thompson.
"Drew's at bat changed the game for good," Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "You could tell that just took all the wind out of their sails, and capped off a phenomenal weekend at the plate for him."
That's when Owen Burnikel took over. Burnikel who was touched for five runs through 3 innings, kept Northfield scoreless and allowed only 1 runner to reach base in the final four innings of the game.
"Owen does a tremendous job staying composed on the mound in tough situations," O'Brien said. "Once we took the lead, I knew he would be in complete control of the game, and he was."
The win advances the Buddies to the state tournament for the first time in 22 years and is something they will never forget.
"Every year we talk about getting to state and how hard it is to get there," O'Brien said. "Words can't express how much this means to the players, coaches, and families of the Buddies, we're excited to go to state and enjoy the ride."
The Buddies open the state tournament at 9:00 a.m. Thursday at Bemidji State's baseball field, in the double elimination tournament.
RED WING, Minn. - If the Winona VFW Buddies baseball team was feeling any sort of nervousness, it didn't show.
From the opening innings of their two games on Saturday afternoon, the Buddies showed that they are ready for this moment.
Winona came out swinging, scoring at least one run in 10 of 12 innings it batted in a pair of wins, 13-3 in six innings over Rochester and 9-0 over Northfield, in the District Tournament.
The Buddies will play at 3:30 p.m. today in Red Wing, Minn., against the winner between Northfield and Rochester, which will be played at 1 p.m. If the Buddies win today, they will be heading to the state tournament.
"When we took our infield before the game, we looked pretty sloppy," Winona coach Matt O'Brien said. "But we came out with a lot of confidence today. Our guys have really taken the fact that we're the team to beat."
Against Rochester, Winona (24-8) came out strong. The Buddies scored four runs in the first inning, added three runs in the third to go along with two runs apiece in the fourth and fifth innings. Bryan Rohde went 2-for-3 with three RBI, Hunter Kruse went 4-for-4 with a double and three RBI and Drew Thompson went 3-for-4 with three RBI.
Against Northfield, it was more of the same for Winona. Thompson went 4-for-4 with an RBI, John DeMarais and Roger Brosnahan each went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, Patrick McNally had two RBI and Rohde struck out 11 and walked three in seven innings for the Buddies.
"It was a complete team performance today," O'Brien said. "We hit well, we fielded well and we pitched well. We were outstanding."
Now is the time that the Winona VFW Buddies and coach Matt O'Brien have been looking forward to.
At 12:30 p.m. today, the second-seeded Buddies (22-8) will be taking on the third-seeded Rochester Rockets in the District Tournament in Red Wing, Minn.
It will be the first of a pair of games that Winona will play today. If the Buddies lose, they'll play the loser of the Northfield and Red Wing matchup at 3 p.m. If the Buddies win, they'll play the winner of the other matchup at 5:30 p.m.
Getting to this point was a goal for O'Brien and the Buddies from the start of the season. When the first pitch is thrown today, they will try and accomplish a new goal.
"As a team, we addressed our goals at the beginning of the season," O'Brien said. "We wanted to make the First District tournament. The coaches wanted to win 20 games and some of the kids mentioned state.
"Now we're trying to take the next step and be where we want to end up. Our main goal now is to beat the Rochester Rockets and put ourselves in a good position to win."
Winona got to this point by sweeping its way through the First District tournament. After defeating Austin 9-2 Saturday, the Buddies took it to another level Sunday.
Winona scored a combined 20 runs to go with a combined 22 hits in a pair of wins, 10-4 and 10-0 in five innings, over the Rochester Spartans.
The Buddies got big hitting performances from Roger Brosnahan, Josh Duellman, Skyler Marks, Owen Burnikel and Bryan Rohde, who has hit safely in 29 of the team's 30 games this season.
Winona's hitting, along with it's deep pitching rotation, gives it a great chance of making it to the state tournament in Bemidji, Minn.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," O'Brien said. "We are loaded pitching wise and that's going to be good for us. We feel we are the team to beat."
The Winona VFW Buddies will be traveling for the District Tournament this coming weekend.
#8 seed Mantorville needed to beat #1 seed Red Wing twice and could only pull off one victory before losing the second game. That means #2 seed Winona will head to Red Wing Saturday, July 30th for a 12:30 p.m. game against the #3 seed Rochester Rockets.
Here is the tournament set up:
On Saturday, July 30, the pairings will be as follows:
#4 seed Northfield vs #1 seed Red Wing 10:00 am
#3 seed Rochester Rockets vs #2 seed Winona 12:30 pm
The two losers will play 3:00 pm
The two winners will play 5:30 pm
On Sunday, July 31, the pairings will be as follows:
The two teams with one loss will play 1:00 pm
The two remaining teams will play for the championship 3:30 p.m
On Monday, August 1, a final game for the championship will be played, if needed. 5:00 pm
Buddies Sweep Spartans Advance to District Tournament
The Winona VFW Buddies swept the Rochester Spartans on Sunday to advance to the District Tournament July 31st.
The Buddies (22-8) won the first game 10-4 and the 2nd game 10-0 in five innings.
In game one, the Buddies put up all their runs in the first 2 innings. The first 5 hitters in each of the first 2 innings reached base, including 10 Buddies' hits.
The ten runs were more then enough for Winona starting pitcher, Bryan Rohde. Rohde went the distance, allowing 4 runs, 2 earned, on 7 hits, while striking out 7, and walking 1.
Skyler Marks (2-4), Owen Burnikel (2-4), Rohde (3-4, RBI), Roger Brosnahan (1-2, 3 RBI), Daniel Kronebusch (2-3, 2B, RBI), and Josh Duellman (2-3, RBI) lead the Buddies at the plate.
In game 2, the Buddies' put forth a complete game performance. Burnikel carried the Buddies with his arm and bat to a 10-0 victory.
In the bottom of the 1st, Marks got the Buddies' started with a lead off triple and scored on a passed ball.
The Buddies would tack on 2 more in the first, 1 in the 3rd, and 2 in the fourth.
Burnikel started for the Buddies on the mound and was in complete control. The Spartans never really threatened and the Buddies lead 6-0 going in to the bottom of the fifth inning.
In the 5th inning, the Buddies would come alive once again. Drew Thompson singled, Kronebusch followed with a single of his own. Tyler Kauphusman would single in Thompson, and Marks would double in Kronebusch and Kauphusman setting the stage for Burnikel. Luke Hemker pinch running for Marks, would steal on the pitch and Burnikel drove an 0-2 pitch to the right center gap for an RBI double and Buddies' victory.
Nothing was going to stop the Winona VFW Buddies baseball team.
Not the hours of pouring rain before the game, not the delay in start time to the game and not the Austin A’s.
The second-seeded Buddies let nothing stand in their way, riding a strong pitching performance from Hunter Kruse and an offensive explosion in the middle innings to defeat 10th-seeded Austin 9-1 in the First District Tournament on Saturday at Cotter Field.
Winona (20-8) will play the seventh-seeded Rochester Spartans at 1 p.m. today at Cotter Field.
“It was kind of a crazy day with the weather,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “It was a great team effort today. When we were on the field and getting it ready, I could tell all our guys were ready to go. No matter who we played, if we played our best ball, we had a great chance of winning. We were locked and ready to go.”
Kruse started the game strong, allowing one hit through the first three innings. Kruse’s performance kept the Buddies in it before the offense came alive in the third.
Josh Duellman led off the third for Winona with a walk and advanced to second on a stolen base. The next batter, Skyler Marks, drove home Duellman with an RBI double to left field.
Two batters later, John DeMarais laced an RBI single to center field, then Bryan Rohde followed with a sacrifice fly. Three batters later, Drew Thompson delivered an RBI double to give the Buddies a 5-0 lead.
“In the first couple innings, their pitcher was throwing slower and the ball was dropping down a little bit,” Marks said. “Finally in the third, we just hit it. We put the barrel of the bat on the ball and got some hits and some big runs.”
That was all Kruse would need. Kruse went seven innings, allowed one unearned run, two hits and five walks to go with 10 strikeouts.
“I felt really good,” Kruse said. “I walked a couple guys but I felt in control. My fastball was working really well for me and I brought in the curveball towards the end. That really helped with the strikeouts.”
The Buddies will be the #2 seed for the tournament and will host the #7 seed Rochester Spartans and the #10 seed Austin. The tournament is double elimination. All games are played at Winona Cotter's high school field.
Here is the schedule for the weekend:
Game 1: 11:00 a.m. #7 seed Rochester Spartans vs #10 seed Austin
Game 2: 1:30 p.m. Buddies vs the winner of game 1
Game 3: 4 p.m. Buddies vs the loser of game 1
(if all teams are 1-1)
Game 4 - #7 seed Rochester Spartans vs #10 seed Austin
Game 5 - Winona vs. winner of Game 4 3:30 pm
(if one team is 2-0 and the other is 1-1)
Game 4 - 2-0 team vs. 1-1 team 1:00 pm
Game 5 - if necessary game 3:30 pm
Gate fee for the weekend is $5 for adults on Saturday and $3 for adults on Sunday. Kids are free all weekend.
Buddies Split With Northfield, Clinch Home Playoffs
The Winona VFW Buddies (18-8, 10-2) split a double header with Northfield (7-5) on Saturday at Winona Cotter High School Field. The Buddies secured home field advantage for the division portion of playoffs with their game 1 win.
The Buddies spotted Northfield 3 runs in the top of the first before scoring 7 runs of their own in the first 3 innings of the game.
Bryan Rohde and Skyler Marks doubled and had an RBI, and Hunter Kruse had 2 hits including a double to lead the Buddies offense.
Rohde started on the mound for the Buddies and was in total control after the 1st inning. Rohde (5 IP, 9 K's, 6 BB, 4 R, 3 ER) picked up his 5th win of the season, while Daniel Kronebusch (2 IP, 3 K's, 2 BB, 0 R) picked up the save in relief.
In game 2, the Buddies could not pull off the sweep, falling 12-10.
Brian Puetz (2-3, 3B, 3 RBI), Kruse (2-4, 2B), and Kronebusch (2-4) highlighted the Buddies offense .
At the beginning of every season, there's always some concern for Matt O'Brien.
Part of the reason is the fact that once every season starts, the Winona VFW Buddies coach has to start from scratch.
The Buddies play in the First District and every other team in the division has kids that play on the same team throughout the spring.
That's not the case with the Buddies, but it hasn't mattered at all this season as they entered Saturday's action with a 17-7 record.
"It seems every year we have to make an adjustment in terms of coaching these kids," O'Brien said. "We are the only team in the league that combines kids from two schools."
The Buddies, a team of kids 16 years old and younger, carries players from both Winona Senior High School and Cotter High School. This season has been different for O'Brien due to the experience of the team.
"We have a lot more 16-year-olds than the last couple years," O'Brien said. "These kids have experience and are comfortable with each other."
The comfort level showed early in the season when the Buddies routed their opponents.
Led offensively by Bryan Rohde, Skyler Marks, Roger Brosnahan and others, Winona has had nine victories in which it scored 10 runs or more.
“We have guys that have really bought into our philosophy,” O’Brien said. “We’ve got guys we can count on and we’ve got guys who know their roles.”
As of late, the Buddies are 5-2 in their last seven games and have relied on pitching and defense according to O’Brien.
Winona doesn’t depend on just one pitcher to get people out. O’Brien feels he has three guys to get the job done: Rohde, Hunter Kruse and Owen Burnikel.
Those pitchers, along with the defense behind them, provide a tall challenge for the opposition.
“We have great defense and overpowering pitching,” O’Brien said. “We are tough to beat with what we have. We’ve been pretty dominant.”
On July 23, the First District playoffs will begin and O’Brien feels his team can do some damage.
“If you look at the division and the guys we have, we will win if we play our best game,” O’Brien said. “If we play our game, not one team should beat us, but if we don’t show up to play, we can be beaten by anybody.
The Winona VFW Buddies came from behind to win a 2-1 First District league game against the Rochester Spartans on Wednesday.
The Buddies spotted the Spartans a 1-0 lead after the 1st inning and it would remain that way until the 5th inning. Josh Duellman lead off the inning with a single and stole second. Skyler Marks drove Duellman in with an RBI single to tie the game. Owen Burnikel grounded out to move Marks to third base and John DeMarais delivered an RBI single to give the Buddies the lead.
Hunter Kruse (1 H, 7 BB, 5 K) tossed 6 innings of 1 run baseball to pick up the win for the Buddies (17-7, 9-2). Daniel Kronebusch picked up his second save of the season, striking out two, and leaving the tying run at second base.
"We played good enough to win," Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We had some outstanding defensive plays, but weren't able to get a lot going offensively."
The Buddies will now return home for the rest of their regular season games. The Buddies play Northfield in a double header starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday July 16th at Winona Cotter Field and finish their regular season against the Rochester Knights on Tuesday July 19th at 5 p.m. at Winona Cotter Field.
The Winona VFW Buddies finished the St. Cloud VFW Tournament Invitational with a 1-2 record this past weekend. The Buddies opened the tournament with a 5-3 victory over Grand Rapids before falling to St. Cloud 8-0 and Maple Grove 10-7.
In the Buddies lone victory, Bryan Rohde earned the win on the mound in a complete game effort. Rohde limited Grand Rapids to 4 hits, while striking out 7, and walking 6.
Offensively the Buddies were lead by Rohde (3-4, 2 2B, 2 RBI), Owen Burnikel (2-3, 2B, 3B, RBI), and Skyler Marks (2B, 2 RBI).
For the tournament, the Buddies were highlighted by Rohde (6-10, 4 2B, 4 RBI), Roger Brosnahan (5-9, 2 2B, RBI), Skyler Marks (4-10, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 SB), Owen Burnikel (2-7, 2B, 3B, RBI), and Josh Duellman (2-5).
The Buddies are now 16-7 overall and 8-2 in First District play. The Buddies return to action Wednesday in Rochester against the Rochester Spartans at 5 p.m. at Mayo's high school field.
The Winona VFW Buddies shook off some rust to pick up a First District league victory over Austin Tuesday night. The Buddies (14-5, 7-2) took advantage of 4 Austin errors en route to a 6-3 win.
Bryan Rohde lead the Buddies at the plate, going 2-3 with 2 RBI. Josh Duellman (2-4, 2 R, SB) and Hunter Kruse (1-3, RBI) also contributed for the Buddies.
On the mound, Owen Burnikel went 5 innings, limiting Austin to 2 runs on 3 hits, while walking 2, striking out 1, and hitting 3 batters.
"You could tell we were very rusty," Head Buddies' Coach Matt O'Brien said. "Owen struggled with his control quite a bit, but he stayed composed and we were able to come away with a victory."
Daniel Kronebusch (3 K's, 1 BB) picked up the save in relief for the Buddies. Winona is back in action today (7/6/11) at 5 p.m. at Winona Cotter Field. The Buddies host the Rochester Rockets (8-2), in a battle of 2nd place teams.
RED WING, Minn. - In a battle with the top team in the First District, the Winona VFW Buddies brought their best.
Bryan Rhode led the charge, allowing four hits and two walks to go with 11 strikeouts in the Buddies' 5-0 victory over Red Wing on Wednesday.
Roger Brosnahan had two doubles while Skyler Marks and Rhode each went 2-for-4 for Winona (13-5, 6-2).
"This was a pretty big game for us," Winona coach Matt O'Brien said. "We knew this is one of the teams we have to beat if we want to go anywhere. Bryan was great out there, he was in complete control."
The Winona VFW Buddies recently took 2nd place at the Stars of Tomorrow Tournament in La Crosse, WI. The Buddies went 4-2 in the tournament having to play 4 games in a row on the second day of the tournament, which included the championship game.
On day 1 of the tournament, the Buddies made quick work of La Crosse Boys and Girls Club by score of 18-0 in four innings. Bryan Rohde (3-3, 2 2B, 3 RBI), Brian Puetz (2-3, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI), Hunter Kruse (2-3, RBI), and Daniel Kronebusch (2-3, 2 RBI) lead the hit parade for the Buddies, who finished with 17 hits.
Hunter Kruse earned the win on the mound for Winona, going 3 innings, striking out 3 and walking 1. Box Score Lax BGC
In game 2, Winona blasted Mantorville 10-1. The Buddies broke the game open in the 4th inning, scoring 8 runs on 5 hits, that included 3 extra base hits. Leading hitters for Winona were Josh Duellman (2-2 RBI), Drew Thompson (2-3, RBI), and Kyle Semann (3B), Kruse (2B), and Rohde (2B) added extra base hits.
Rohde started on the mound for the Buddies, going 6 innings, scattering 4 hits, striking out 12, and walking 4 in the victory. Box Score Mantorville
On day 2, Winona opened with a 9-0 win over tournament host La Crosse Raiders. Owen Burnikel threw his best game of the season in the complete game victory. Burnikel needed just 71 pitches for the complete game, limiting La Crosse to just 2 hits, while striking out 1 and walking 1.
On offense, every starter had at least one hit for the Buddies, who finished with 13 total. Skyler Marks (3-3 , RBI), Rohde (2-4, 2B, 2 RBI), Burnikel (2-3), and Roger Brosnahan (1-3, 3B, RBI) highlighted the offensive attack. Box Score Lax Raiders
The Buddies dropped their second game of the day by score of 2-1 to Sioux Falls. The Buddies outhit Sioux Falls 8 hits to 3, but couldn't get the timely hit having base runners on in every inning.
Drew Thompson kept Sioux Falls off balance, going 5 1/3 innings, allowing 2 hits, while walking 3, and striking out 3 in the no decision.
The Buddies bounced back in their third game of the day, beating Genoa-De Soto-Stoddard Legion 10-0 in 6 innings.
Semann had a game to remember at the plate, going 4-4, with a double, and 2 RBI. Patrick McNally (3-4, SB) and Burnikel (2-4, RBI) also paced the offense, which capitalized on 6 GDS erros.
Luke Hemker earned the win for the Buddies on the mound. Hemker went 4 innings, giving up 4 hits, striking out 4, and walking 3. Box Score GDS
In their fourth game of the day, sixth game in two days, the Buddies ran out of gas, losing 4-2 to Sioux Falls in the championship game.
Brosnahan (2-4, 2B, RBI) and Burnikel (2-3) lead the Buddies (12-5, 5-2) offensively. Kruse was the hard luck losing pitcher. He allowed 4 runs, 1 earned, while striking out 1 and walking 1. Box Score Sioux Falls #2
"Overall it was a good weekend for us," Buddies' Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "It's tough playing four games in one day, and I thought we played some really good baseball. Hopefully some of the competition will help us for the rest of our season."
Buddies Blow out Braves
The Winona VFW Buddies' offense exploded for a combined 45 runs in 2 wins over the Waseca Braves on Sunday.
In game 1, the Buddies (8-3, 4-2) put up 18 runs on 17 hits in a 18-0 win over Waseca (1-4). The Buddies were lead by Skyler Marks (3-5, 2 3B, 1 RBI), Bryan Rhode (2-3, 3B, 4 RBI), Kyle Semann (2-2, 3B, 2 RBI), and Hunter Kruse (2-4, 3B,4 R, 2 RBI).
Owen Burnikel and Daniel Kronebusch combined for the shutout on the mound for the Buddies, limiting Waseca to 3 hits.
"It was a combination of us executing and Waseca playing pretty poorly," Winona Assistant Coach Matt Cada said. "Nine errors in two games can be a long day for both teams."
Game 2 was much of the same as the Buddies rolled to a 27-0 win. Brian Puetz had a game to remember going 4-4 with a triple and 7 RBI. Drew Thompson (2-3, 3 RBI), Patrick McNally (3-5, 2B, 2 RBI), and Luke Hemker (3-5, 2 RBI) were also key contributors as the Buddies stretched their win streak to six.
Hemker and McNally combined to shutdown Waseca, again limiting them to 3 hits.
"I'm proud of the way the boys played and handled themselves," Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "It was a long day, but we did what we came there to do."
The Buddies return to the diamond Friday June 24th against the La Crosse Boys and Girls Club in the Stars of Tomorrow Tournament, in La Crosse, WI. Game time is 12 p.m. at La Crosse Logan High School's Field.
The Winona VFW Buddies stretched their win streak to 4 games as they swept Albert Lea by scores of 10-1 and 7-2.
In game 1, the Buddies got a strong pitching performance from Bryan Rohde. Rohde threw a complete game, striking out 13, while walking 3, and limiting Albert Lea to 2 hits.
"Bryan threw great," Winona Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "When he is attacking hitters with his fastball, in the strike zone, he is almost unhittable."
Rohde helped his own cause at the plate going 2-3, with a double, triple, and 3 RBI. Roger Brosnahan broke a 1-1 tie in the 5th inning with a solo home run and Hunter Kruse continued is hot streak with 3 hits of his own, including a double and an RBI.
"Roger hit an absolute bomb," Buddies' Assistant Coach Matt Cada said. "I think that took a little pressure off of us and got everyone going."
In game 2, it was more of the same, as the Buddies won by a score of 7-2. Skyler Marks (2-2, 2B, 2 RBI), Patrick McNally (2-4, 2 RBI), and Luke Hemker (2-4, RBI) lead the way for the Buddies, who are now 3-2 in First District play and 6-3 overall.
Drew Thompson (4 IP, 2 BB, 1 K) picked up the win for the Buddies, as McNally (2 IP, 2 BB, 0 K), and Brosnahan (1 IP, 1 BB, 1 K) kept Albert Lea in check the rest of the way.
"We're playing good baseball right now," Cada said. "We're doing all the little things and that is really paying dividends for our ball club."
The Buddies are back in action Wednesday at 5 p.m. for a single game against the Rochester Knights at Winona Cotter's Field of Dreams.
The Winona VFW Buddies got back on track on Wednesday with a 15-0 drubbing of Rochester Century at Winona Cotter's Field of Dreams. The win brings the Buddies record to 3-3 overall, and 2-2 in First District play, while Century falls to 1-2 in the First District.
Winona pounded out 15 hits to go with their 15 runs. Kyle Semann put on an offensive display, going 4-4 with a triple and 4 RBI. Bryan Rohde (3-3), John DeMarais (2-4, 4 RBI), and Hunter Kruse (2-3, 2B, 2 RBI) followed with multiple hit games of their own, as the Buddies have scored 15 or more runs in all 3 of their wins this season.
"When we score runs, we usually score a lot of them," Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "It just goes to show how talented we are and can be, when we put it all together."
Owen Burnikel picked up the win. throwing all 5 innings, limiting Century to 2 hits, while walking 2, and striking out 3.
"Hopefully we can get on a little roll here," O'Brien said. "Each practice and game our guys are getting more and more comfortable in our system."
The Buddies are back in action Friday night, hosting St. Paul at 7:30 p.m. at Gabrych Park.
The Winona VFW suffered a pair of losses (5-1, 7-4) at the hands of the Owatonna Huskies on Sunday in Owatonna.
In the first game, the Buddies scored the first run of the game, but Owatonna starter Matt Scheck held them scoreless the rest of the way en route to a 5-1 victory for Owatonna.
"In the first game, it was all about execution," Winona Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "They took advantage of some mistakes we made and we didn't execute. They're a well-coached team and we'll see them again."
Bryan Rohde started for the Buddies, going five innings, striking out 11 and walking four, in the losing effort.
"Bryan is going to have a great season for us," O'Brien said. "We just need to eliminate falling behind in counts and develop a pitching rhythm to keep our defense in the game."
In game 2, the Buddies offense had runners on base in every inning, but Owatonna was able to minimize Winona's bats, sweeping the Buddies by score of 7-4.
Offensively, Patrick McNally (1-1, 2B), John DeMarais (1-1, 2 SB), and Josh Duellman (1-2, RBI, SB) reached base a combined 10 times.
"It's always a little difficult at the start of the season," O'Brien said. "We're one of the only teams in the league that combines schools, so it takes some adjusting; learning a new system and getting used to playing together." Game 1 Box Score
The Buddies (1-2, 2-3) are back in action on Wednesday, as they host Rochester Century at 5 p.m. @ Winona Cotter Field.
Buddies Steamroll Stewartville
The Winona VFW Buddies picked up their first league win of the season in convincing fashion, by beating Stewartville 16-1 in five innings at Winona Cotter Field.
The Buddies (1-1, 2-1) wasted no time getting on the board, putting up 6 runs in the first inning and another 5 runs in the second inning.
"We've been preaching to our hitters to hit within the count," Buddies' Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "Today are guys put on a hitting clinic doing just that."
The Buddies pounded out 11 hits and took advantage of 9 walks. Bryan Rohde (2-3, 2 RBI), Drew Thompson (2-4, 3 RBI), Hunter Kruse (2-4, 2 RBI), and Skyler Marks (1-2, 3 RBI) lead the way for the Buddies.
Winona also got a solid outing on the mound from Thompson. He threw a complete game, allowing 1 earned run, scattering 5 hits, while striking out 7, and walking 2.
"I thought Drew threw well," O'Brien said. "He fell behind some hitters, but overall he kept his composure and made their hitters work."
The Buddies are back in action Sunday June 5 @ Owatonna for a double header.
Just a heads up to all parents and players for this upcoming season. In the past, our parents have taken it upon themselves to provide some sandwiches and snacks for the boys in between games on days of double headers. This is something we can continue to do or not to do, based on feedback from the parents.
The Kruse family and some others will be bringing snacks for the boys for this Sunday's double header at Cotter Field. I imagine parents can discuss with one another if this is something we want to do.
Wallet Sized 2011 VFW Buddies' Schedules
The Winona VFW Buddies will once again be distributing their wallet sized VFW 2011 game schedules to the community. All players will receive 10-15 of these schedules to pass out to friends and family members for the upcoming season. If you need more let Coach O'Brien or Coach Cada know and we will get more to you. Otherwise, these schedules will also be available at the Winona VFW and Midtown Downtown. Let's support our team by packing the stands with people at all our home games!
St. Cloud Tournament Info
The Winona VFW Buddies will be going to St. Cloud, MN for the St. Cloud VFW Invitational Baseball Tournament July 8-10. All the boys' and coaches' rooms will be paid for by the VFW and the coaches will supervise the kids at the hotel room for the trip. We will be staying at the Holiday Inn and Suites Hotel and Conference Center 75 South 37th Avenue in St. Cloud, MN (320-253-9000). This is located 2.5 miles away from the Fields.
If parents that plan on attending are interested in staying at the same hotel as the team, the information is listed above. Otherwise, parents are more then welcome to stay at another hotel. Here is a website with all the hotels located in St. Cloud: St. Cloud Hotels
Dick Putz and Joe Faber Field's address is 5001 Veterans Drive in St. Cloud, MN.
Former VFW Alum Participates in Junior College World Series!
Former Winona VFW baseball player and Winona Cotter graduate Jordan Ossefoort recently participated in the NJCAA DIII World Series in Tyler, Texas this past weekend.
Ossefoort, a freshman pitcher at Rochester Community and Technical College, had pitched in 7 games, totaling 25 2/3 innings, with 20 strike outs to his 8 walks, while maintaining a 2.45 ERA (stats going into the National Tournament). The Yellow Jackets went 0-2 in the tournament.
On behalf of the Winona VFW Buddies we would like to congratulate Jordan on his terrific season and wish him continued success!
Winona VFW Buddies Roster 2011
First off, the Winona VFW Buddies would like to thank everyone for trying out and working hard in less than ideal weather. We appreciate everyones effort and see that baseball in Winona has a bright future.
Those who did not make the Winona VFW Buddies that are 15 years of age are encouraged to play summer baseball for the Goodview Sandot organization. They can view their website here and for more information contact Amy or Bob French by e-mail email@example.com or by phone 507-450-6884. We look forward to the 15 year olds coming back and trying out for the Buddies in 2012.
16 year olds who didn't make the team will either be eligible to play for Coach Matt Smith's summer team if they attend Winona Senior High School or Coach Nick Whaley if they attend Cotter High School. For more information contact either Coach Smith by e-mail Matthew.Smith@winona.k12.mn.us or Coach Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do not be discouraged if you did not make the team, a lot can happen in a year, and the more reps and hard work you put into getting better can pay huge dividends for your improvement. We wish everyone continued luck in their baseball futures. Thanks again!
2011 Winona VFW Buddies Roster
Congratulations to those who made the Winona VFW Buddies 2011 team! We look forward to working with you and will be in touch with all of you shortly. Please check the website often to see when the start of our season's practices and events will be taking place.
VFW 2011 Schedule Available
The Winona VFW Buddies 2011 tentative schedule is now available on the website. Click schedules on the left side of the page and make sure 2011 is selected and choose Winona Buddies to get just the Winona schedule. This schedule is subject to change and WILL change, but it can be used if you need to start planning vacations, taking off work, or have other obligations. The division, district, and state tournament dates will not change unless we have bad weather as well as the Stars of Tomorrow and St. Cloud tournaments, so you can put those dates in in permanent marker. The league games are the days that can be altered, so don't be surprised if there are changes.
About the Winona VFW Buddies
Here is some information about the Winona VFW Buddies baseball organization:
-Eligible to play if 16 and under as of June 1, 2014. All freshmen and sophomores are eligible to tryout, as long as they do not turn 17 before June 1, 2014.
-The Buddies play in a 14 team division that includes four Rochester teams, Northfield, Red Wing, Austin, Cannon Falls, Faribault, Albert Lea, Mantorville, Stewartville, and Owatonna. Winner of the District Tournament advances to the state VFW tournament.
-League games are generally on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. (single game) and double headers on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 11 a.m.
-The Buddies compete in two tournaments besides playoffs, the Winona Invitational and the St. Cloud VFW Baseball Tournament in St. Cloud, MN. We will stay over night for the St. Cloud tournament.
-The VFW Buddies philosophy's focuses primarily on the development of its players so that they can have successful high school careers and the VFW program's success on the field.
-As far as playing time, the Buddies will play what their coaches feel is the best line-up for league games and those who do not play in the first game of the double header will start the second game. Players that make the Buddies will receive a lot very important summer repetitions. Every practice is an evaluation of the players and the coaches are always looking for the players that are doing all the little things; putting in extra time before/after practice, following the coaches' instruction, being a good teammate, and a player's improvement.
-The Buddies baseball program is a commitment and those who make the team are expected to be at practices as well as games. We give players 5 days to miss in the summer before playing time starts to be affected. However, we are understanding to summer schedules and are willing to work with schedules as long as players aren't constantly missing.
First off, the coaches would like to thank all the players for all their hard work and dedication to the season this summer. It was another fun summer that we wish would never end. We'd also like to thank all the parents for all the support and help this season, you went above and beyond our expectations and we thank you for everything!
Just a reminder for all the kids to sell all their chicken q tickets regardless if they will be able to work that weekend.
Since the season is over the coaches really want the kids to start putting the extra time in the weight room. The gains athletes get from the weight room are usually what separates one another from playing and not playing at the varsity level. I have posted on the left side of the page nutrition tips. There, athletes can find out how to add muscle through diet, some workout tips, and sample workout programs.
Coach O'Brien does work at GNC, so if anybody has any questions, give him a call or shoot him an e-mail.
Buddies Fall to Stewartville
From WDN Staff
Red Wing, MN
The Winona VFW Buddies baseball team came up just short in their effort to advance to state, dropping a 5-4 heartbreaker to Stewartville on Sunday.
Despite a solid pitching performance from Trae Cierzan, Stewartville managed a two-out, bases loaded single in the sixth inning to score the winning run.
Cierzan was also 2-for-4 with a double, while Daniel Karnick drove in two runs.
"Anytime you can make the final four of your playoffs, you can be proud," Winona coach Matt O'Brien said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win, but the ball just didn't bounce our way.
"The kids played hard and it was another great season of baseball for us."
Red Wing will be hosting the District Tournament at Red Wing Athletic Field.
Red Wing is #1 seed, Stewartville is #2 seed, Winona is #3 seed, Rockets or Spartans are #4 seed.
Here is the 2010 District Tournament schedule.
Saturday, July 24
Game 1 10:00 am Red Wing vs Rockets or Spartans
Game 2 12:30 pm Stewartville vs Winona
Game 3 3:00 pm Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2
Game 4 5:30 pm Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2
Sunday, July 25
Game 5 1:00 pm Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4
Game 6 3:30 pm Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5
Monday, July 26
Game 7 5:00 pm Game 6 teams, if needed
Buddies Advance to Final Four
The Winona VFW Buddies defeated Faribault 13-7 to advance to the District Playoffs in Red Wing, MN July 24th and 25th.
The Buddies exploded for 13 runs on 12 hits with back to back 5 run innings to hold off Faribault.
"I couldn't be more proud of our kids," Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "They really wanted to advance and they played great ball all weekend in doing so."
Offensively, the Buddies did a little of everything to put pressure on Faribault pitchers. The Buddies drew 6 walks, had 5 sacrifices, stole 7 bases, and received 2 extra base hits in the 13 run assault of Faribault.
"I don't think we could have had much better at bats then we had today," O'Brien said. "We ran the bases extremely well and played unselfish baseball, it was fun to watch."
The Buddies also received a terrific pitching performance from James Muras. Muras silenced Faribault's bats limiting them to 2 unearned runs, on 3 hits, while striking out 4, and walking 2.
"We're starting to play some good baseball at the right time of the year," O'Brien said. "Hopefully we can stay hot."
The Buddies will now advance to the Final Four where they will meet the #2 seed Stewartville on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in Red Wing, MN.
Defensive stand sparks offensive rally in Buddies' playoff win
By JEFF THEIS WDN
Every so often in baseball, there is a great defensive play that sparks an offensive rally. That’s exactly what happened for the Winona VFW Buddies baseball team on Saturday afternoon.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Buddies gunned down a Northfield runner trying to score, and in the bottom of the inning, Winona put four runs across and defeated Northfield 4-1 in six innings in the First District playoffs.
The game was delayed by heavy rain heading into the top of the seventh. With all fields in Winona deemed unplayable, Northfield conceded the top of the seventh.
Winona (15-9) continues tournament play against Faribault at 4 p.m. today at Cotter.
The Buddies defeated Faribault 13-1 in four innings in their first game Saturday.
Northfield had a 1-0 lead on Winona in the top of the sixth inning and was looking for more.
With a runner on third base and one out, Northfield’s Mitch Peterson hit a fly ball to Winona left-fielder Alex Hefel.
Hefel threw to the shortstop Roger Brosnahan, who relayed the ball to catcher Skyler Marks, who tagged out the runner for the final out of inning.
“After that, you could start to feel the momentum shift and guys raising their energy,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “When you get huge momentum plays like that, you can see it translate over to the offensive side, and that’s what happened.”
In the bottom of the sixth, Trae Cierzan, Dan Karnick and Hunter Gamoke all reached to load the bases with nobody out. Skyler Marks followed with a two-run single to center.
“We were having good at-bats the whole game,” O’Brien said. “I think we just wore the pitcher down. We tired him out.”
Owen Burnikel combined to pitch nine innings while striking out four and walking six to pick up both wins.
Gamoke went 2-for-2 with an RBI, Marks was 2-for-2 with two RBI and Kefel and Hunter Kruse each had two RBI against Faribault.
Due to Rochester Century dropping out of the tournament, the Buddies will now be hosting a 3 team playoff instead of 4. There are now changes to the times of games and format of the tournament.
Since we are hosting the tournament we need volunteers to work the gates at the games for ticket sales all weekend. Ticket sales will be $5 for adults (graduated high school) on Saturday and $3 for Sunday. We are also trying to have concession stands for the weekend, so we will need help there. Please talk with Sally Cierzan if you can help out at our games. We will also need ball shaggers for the tournament.
Some teams have games left to play, so it is still uncertain the teams the Buddies will host for the weekend, but here is the playoff schedule. All games are at Cotter High School.
Saturday Game 1 11:00 am Northfield vs. Faribault
Game 2 1:30 pm Winona vs. winner of Game 1
Game 3 4:00 pm Winona vs. loser of Game 1
Sunday Game 4 1:00 pm TBD depending on results of Saturday games
Game 5 3:30 pm Final game, if needed
Buddies Swept by Northfield
The Winona VFW Buddies concluded their regular season on a sour note Wednesday, getting swept by Northfield by scores of 10-0 and 5-3.
Northfield had a tornado touch down in the northern part of Northfield and once the game was able to start, humidity set in.
"It (the weather) was definitely a factor," Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We can't make excuses though, both teams had to play in it, and we played poorly."
The Buddies struggled on the mound all day, walking 15 batters in the two games.
"You're not going to win too many games with that many walks," O'Brien said. "Most of the pitches we threw today weren't even close, pitchers have to give our defense a chance to make plays."
At the plate, the Buddies only mustered an Owen Burnikel single in the first game. In game 2, the Buddies were lead by Roger Brosnahan (2-2, 2B, 1 RBI).
The Buddies will host a portion of the Division Tournament on Saturday and Sunday.
If you click on the links button on the left of the page and click on Buddies 2010, you will find pictures of the boys from the St. Cloud Tournament. Thanks goes out to Jonelle Duellman!
The Winona VFW Buddies will be hosting a Chicken Q fundraiser on Saturday, August 21 . We ask that all parents and players help out at the Chicken Q, as all we have to do is serve the food and clean, we don't have to make the food. It would be great to get as many people as we can so we can split work shifts. The Chicken Q is the only fundraiser we do, this helps us pay for the St. Cloud tournament and other expenses like equipment and the kids t-shirts and hats. Please contact Sally Cierzan on how you can help.
Buddies Finish St. Cloud Tournament With Split
St. Cloud, MN
The Winona VFW Buddies finished up the St. Cloud tournament with a split on Sunday beating Austin 18-9 before falling to tournament host St. Cloud, 3-0.
The Buddies were able to earn a First District league win against Austin in the Sunday opener to bring their record to 8-3 in league. The Buddies came out hot, putting up 11 runs in the first 3 innings, highlighted by doubles from Christian Kuehner, Skyler Marks, and Roger Brosnahan, while Hunter Gamoke capped off the scoring with an inside the park two run home run.
Austin would not go quietly, answering with 8 runs total in the 4th, 5th, and 6 innings.
"I can't be too surprised by the high scoring affair," Buddies' Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "All year it has been a roller coaster for scoring, thankfully we were able to fight them off."
The Buddies fought off the comeback with 4 runs in the 5th to finally put Austin away.
"Offensively we were as good as it gets," O'Brien said. "We executed extremely well and we received contributions from everyone."
Everyone that played had at least one hit for the Buddies, who pounded out 19 hits to go with their 18 runs.
In game 2, the Buddies ran out of runs, falling to St. Cloud 3-0.
Josh Duellman (2-4), Daniel Kronebusch (2-3, 2 SB), and Tyler Kauphusman (1-3) lead the Buddies offense.
Jared Speltz and Kronebusch combined to hold St. Cloud to 3 runs, on 5 hits, striking out 2, but walking 9.
"We played hard and just ran into some bad luck," O'Brien said. "We were hitting the ball hard, just right at them."
The Buddies will play the Rochester Knights at Hudson Field in Rochester on Tuesday at 5 p.m. for a First District league game.
"I think we are disappointed in how we played in St.Cloud, but we did finish playing better baseball that hopefully will carry over to Tuesday," O'Brien said.
The Winona VFW Buddies had their fair share of struggles in two games at the St. Cloud VFW Baseball Tournament losing 12-2 in their first game and 3-0 in their second game.
In game 1, the Buddies committed 5 errors and were held to 3 hits as Forest Lake took advantage winning 12-2. Trae Cierzan went 1-2 with a triple and an RBI, while Owen Burnikel and James Muras had the other Buddies' hits.
"Forest Lake is a very good team," Winona Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "You can't make that many mistakes and expect to be competitive against good teams."
In game 2, the Buddies had another power outage falling to Grand Rapids 3-0. Skyler Marks went 1-2 with a triple, and Roger Brosnahan and Alex Hefel had the other 2 Buddies' hits. On the mound, Hunter Kruse went the distance for the Buddies, striking out 3, walking 2, and giving up 9 hits.
With the losses, the Buddies fall to 11-6 overall and remain at 7-3 in First District play.
"We need to get back to the basics and back to playing our type of baseball," O'Brien said. "Hopefully we can turn things around tomorrow, and get some kids to step up for us."
The Buddies are back in action Sunday playing in the St. Cloud Tournament against Austin (9 a.m.). Since the two teams are playing each other, they're going to make up their league game with the game tomorrow.
We will be having practice tomorrow at 10 a.m. for a light batting practice and throwing session.
The coaches will be going up on Thursday so everyone is on their own for driving up to the tournament. Directions are listed to the field under the directions button on the left side of the home page. Both fields used for the tournament our right next to each other.
Our first game is Friday at 11:15 a.m. at Dick Putz Field. We would like everyone to be at the field at least an hour before the scheduled game dressed and ready to play. If we win our first game, we would play at 6:15 p.m. Friday night at Joe Faber Field. If we lose our first game, we will play at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning.
All players should bring all their under shirts and vests for the tournament. Players will be grouped 4 to a room for Friday and Saturday and will need rides to and from games. We will go over all the rules, such as curfew, room expectations, and conduct before getting their rooms.
Burnikel stays strong to guide Winona to shutout
Landon Evanson WDN
Rare is the occasion where a team scores a run in every inning and has every player in its starting lineup reach base, only to have the focus fall upon its pitcher. That was the case on Wednesday, however, as the Winona VFW Buddies defeated Rochester Mayo 15-0, behind a stellar pitching performance from Owen Burnikel.
With Winona's offensive explosion, it would be easy to overlook Burnikel's three-hit effort.
The 15-year-old got out of some sticky situations with help from some words of wisdom from coach Matt O'Brien.
"Not letting little things bother us," O'Brien said. "If somebody gets on base, so what? Shake it off and we'll get through it."
And Burnikel did just that.
Rochester's lead-off batter reached base in three of the five innings, but O'Brien said Burnikel "attacked hitters" and "trust(ed) our defense to make plays."
In the second inning, a diving catch from left fielder Alex Hefel with two on and nobody out stopped a Mayo rally in its tracks, while a third-to-first-and-back-to-third double play brought the fourth to a close.
"I just kept attacking and hit the strike zone," Burnikel said. "I had my defense behind me; it felt good."
Though not a strikeout pitcher, Burnikel was able to dig deep when he needed to put Rochester batters away, and finished with four strikeouts.
Rochester (8-4) came in one game better overall than Winona (8-4), but Burnikel and the Buddies came out determined.
"We came into the game knowing we were going to win," Burnikel said, "and we just took it to them early."
In a critical game, O'Brien was comfortable with Burnikel on the hill.
"He's the guy you want on the mound in a big game," O'Brien said, "because you know you're going to get his best stuff."
The Winona VFW Buddies will host the Rochester Spartans in a single game at 5 p.m. today (Wed, July 7) at Winona Cotter Field.
Buddies Hold off Mantorville, Get Sweep
The Winona VFW Buddies took two games from visiting Mantorville by scores of 11-9 and 5-1.
In the first game the Buddies were one run away from ten running Mantorville before yielding six runs in the top of the sixth inning and surviving one run in the top of the seventh to prevail with a 11-9 First District win.
Trae Cierzan (2-2 with a double and 2 RBI) and Christian Kuehner (2-3 with a triple and an RBI) paved an offensive assault on Mantorville pitching as the Buddies (6-3, 10-4 overall) pounded out nine hits and four extra base hits.
Daniel Kronebusch was able to come away with the win on the mound, as he pitched 3 2/3 innings, striking out 2, walking 3, and hitting 2. Mantorville's Corey Hyde took the loss going 4 innings, walking 4 while striking out 2.
"We executed extremely well the first three innings of the ball game," Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We packed it in early in the sixth inning and they made the game a lot more interesting then it should've been."
In game 2, the Buddies rode the bats of Jared Speltz and Hunter Kruse to a 5-1 win. Speltz was 2-3 with 2 doubles and 1 RBI, while Kruse was 2-2 with 2 RBI.
Buddies' pitcher James Muras limited Mantorville to 1 run, on 4 hits, while striking out 3, and walking two in the complete game victory. Mantorville's Tyler Meyer took the loss going 3 2/3 innings, striking out 3 and walking 1.
"We played more of a complete game in game 2," O'Brien said. "James attacked hitters and threw us a great game."
The Buddies return to action at home Monday July 5th at 5:00 p.m. against defending state champion Austin.
After taking a 5-0 lead in the second inning, the Faribault VFW baseball team felt in control Wednesday against the Winona VFW Buddies.
That feeling lasted just a few more innings, as Winona scored five runs of its own to tie things up in the fifth inning. After surrendering the big lead, Faribault went on to drop the home contest 9-6 in eight innings at Bell Field.
“That fifth inning just kind of took the air out of our sails,” coach Tony Langerud said. “We played a little bit flat after that.”
Prior to the fifth inning, pitcher Matt Siegfried and the VFW were cruising. Siegfried faced one batter over the minimum through the first four innings.
He was helped out offensively by a five-spot in the second. Riley Jandro’s double to left-center scored Dan Pierce for the game’s first run. Blake Langerud drew a walk with the bases loaded to bring in another run, and Dylan Valentyn’s two-run single completed the scoring.
But Winona took advantage of six walks and three Faribault errors to score five runs in the fifth to even things up.
“They kind of snuck their way back in,” Tony Langerud said.
Faribault (5-7) regained the lead with a run in the bottom of the fifth. After Pierce reached on an error, Mason Glende drove him in with a double.
Winona responded in the seventh with a run, scoring on a squeeze bunt with one out. The Buddies went on to add three in the eighth and held on for a 9-6 win.
Faribault will return to Bell Field on Wednesday when it hosts Owatonna at 5 p.m.
The Winona VFW Buddies pulled off two come from behind wins on Monday night edging Owatonna 4-3 in the first game and 3-2 in the night cap.
In the first game, the Buddies (7-4, 4-3) trailed 3-0 before getting things going in the fifth inning. Hunter Kruse lead off the inning with a walk. Owen Burnikel then was hit by a pitch and Roger Brosnahan advanced the runners on a sacrifice bunt. Christian Kuehner delivered a sacrifice fly to chip the lead down to 3-1 and Alex Hefel singled home Burnikel to cut the lead to 3-2.
"That was the turning point in the game," Winona VFW Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We executed exactly the way we needed to to get back in the game, hats off to our boys."
The Buddies took the lead in the sixth, as Daniel Karnick reached on an error. Hunter Gamoke beat out a sacrifice bunt to put runners on 1st and 2nd with no outs. Skyler Marks moved the runners to 2nd and 3rd on a sacrifice bunt of his own and Burnikel delivered a two out, two run double to put the Buddies on top 4-3.
"Again, that was great execution on the boys' part," O'Brien said. "We played team baseball and guys stepped up at big times in the game."
Burnikel was just as strong on the mound as he was at the plate. He went the distance on the mound, striking out 2, walking 1, while scattering 10 hits.
"Owen did it all today," O'Brien said. "From the big hit, to attacking hitters all game long, he was in complete control."
Game 2 was a little bit of the same story line. The Buddies trailed 1-0 until the fifth inning, when Daniel Kronebusch came through with an RBI single to tie the game at 1.
In the sixth inning, the Buddies struck again. This time, it was Brosnahan delivering an RBI double that scored Josh Duellman and gave the Buddies a 2-1 lead.
Owatonna refused to go quietly tying the game at two in the seventh inning. Both teams failed to put any runs across until the ninth inning.
In the bottom of the ninth, Jared Speltz singled. Tyler Kauphusman followed with a single of his own and Kronebusch was intentionally walked to get to Kruse. Kruse took one for the team as he was hit by a pitch to score the winning run.
"I couldn't be more proud of the way are guys battled today," O'Brien said. "To be able to take two from a team of Owatonna's caliber is a big step in the right direction for us."
The Buddies travel to Faribault on Wednesday before returning home on Thursday for a double header against Mantorville starting at 4 p.m. at Winona Cotter.
The Winona VFW Buddies lead for 5 and a 1/2 innings, but couldn't close out Stewartville in the bottom of the 6th inning, falling 4-2 in a First District battle.
Trae Cierzan was the hard luck losing pitcher as he struck out 10 and walked 2 in the complete game effort. Cierzan also carried the Buddies at the plate delivering a 2 RBI double to give the Buddies a 2-0 lead in the third.
"To pitch as well as Trae did and come through at the plate like he did was what we expect out of Trae," Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We needed some other guys to step up and help Trae out."
With the loss, the Buddies fell to 5-4 overall and 3-3. The Buddies are back in action Monday June 28th when they host Owatonna in a doubleheader starting at 4:00 p.m. at Winona Cotter's baseball field.
With just three players returning this season, Winona VFW Buddies coach Matt O'Brien knew he needed to find some leadership.
Eight games into the season, O'Brien feels like he has found his leader in Winona Senior High School junior-to-be, Trae Cierzan.
Cierzan - the starting catcher and one of the team's top pitchers - is looking to help lead Winona to a deep run into the playoffs.
"Last year we went out in the first round and it was pretty disappointing," Cierzan said. "So this year I hope we can make a run."
If the Buddies (5-3, 3-2 1st District) are going to make a run, they are going to rely heavily on Cierzan's arm, both behind the plate and on the mound.
"As a catcher, he has a great arm and probably the quickest release that I have seen for a kid his age," O'Brien said. "He basically eliminates anyone running on us."
That quickness behind the plate was on display early this season against Albert Lea.
"The first batter got on and tried to steal, and Trae threw him out by three feet on a curveball," O'Brien said. "Nobody ran after that."
It isn't just behind the plate, however, that Cierzan has shown what he is capable of.
In his first start on the mound against Rochester Century last week, a 10-3 Buddies win, Cierzan took a no-hitter through five innings, and struck out 11.
The only glitch in the outing was that he walked seven batters.
"He is definitely a power pitcher, and when he can locate his pitches, he's nearly unhittable," O'Brien said.
And not only has Cierzan shown he can lead Winona with his defense, he has shown it with his bat as well.
In five games, Cierzan is hitting .308, with three runs, three RBI, and a triple.
"Playing varsity in the spring really helped me out a lot," Cierzan said. "Getting to play at that level and seeing all the talent, showed me I can compete with anyone, as long as I play my game."
Going from a young player on varsity to being a veteran leader on the Buddies are two drastically different things.
But for Cierzan, the time on varsity has helped him learn how to lead the Buddies.
"Coach (O'Brien) has told me that I need to be a leader since I know the system and have been around," Cierzan said. "I know I'm one of the guys that needs to step up."
"I like being the guy the younger players come to."
Buddies Top the Rockets
Winona Daily News
ROCHESTER, Minn. - Daniel Kronebusch came up big for the Winona VFW Buddies baseball team.
He hit an RBI double in the top of the eighth inning in the nightcap and then came in to get the save in the bottom of the inning in leading Winona to a 6-4 First District win over the Rochester Rockets.
Winona, which won the opener 7-4, was down 4-1 before coming back to get the win.
Daniel Karnick picked up the win and was 2-for-4 in both games for Winona (5-3, 3-2), which has won five games in a row after an 0-3 start.
Hunter Kruse picked up the Game 1 win and went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a double. Trae Cierzan was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a double.
The Buddies travel to Stewartville on Thursday (6/24) for a 5 p.m. First District game.
The Winona VFW Buddies continued their winning ways Saturday taking two games from Waseca 7-2 and 9-7.
In game 1, Owen Burnikel went the distance on the mound, limiting Waseca to two hits, while striking out 2, and walking 0.
"He did a great job of locating his pitches and using his defense," Winona Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "Owen has tremendous poise on the mound, he never allowed Waseca to get comfortable."
At the plate, the Buddies pounded out 10 hits to go with their 7 runs. The Buddies were lead by Alex Hefel (2-3, 2 2B, 2 RBI), Daniel Karnick (2-4, 2 RBI), Skyler Marks (2-2, 2B, RBI), and Roger Brosnahan (2-2).
"We've really stressed the importance of having a plan at the plate and the kids did that today," O'Brien said.
In game 2, the Buddies continued their offensive assault scoring 9 runs for a 9-7 victory. Winona took advantage of 10 walks and 5 Waseca errors. Daniel Kronebusch was 2-4 with 2 RBI and Jordan Duellman was 1-3 with 2 RBI for the Buddies who are now 2-2 in First District play and 3-3 overall.
Roger Brosnahan picked up the win in relief going 3 innings, striking out one, walking one, while scattering four hits.
The Buddies are back in action Sunday when they take on the Rochester Rockets at John Adams Field in Rochester.
The Winona VFW Buddies got their first win of the season in a big way Wednesday night, with a 10-3 win over Rochester Century. The Buddies (1-2, 1-3) scored 8 runs in the 1st inning to set the tone. Trae Cierzan and Christian Kuehner lead the Buddies hitting barage going 2-3 with an RBI. Owen Burnikel was 2-4 with 2 RBI and Hunter Gamoke was 1-2 with 2 RBI as the Buddies exploded for 10 hits.
On the mound, Cierzan went 6 innings, limiting Century to 1 hit and 1 run, while striking out 11 and walking 7. The Buddies are back in action at home Saturday for a double header against Waseca.
The Winona VFW Buddies dropped a pair of games to Albert Lea in a double header to open the season.
In game 1, the Buddies got a strong pitching performance from Owen Burnikel, but couldn't overcome five errors in a 5-2 loss. Burnikel went the distance for the Buddies, giving up 5 runs (3 earned), on 7 hits, while striking out two, and walking one. The Buddies struggled at the plate striking out 10 times while scattering 5 hits. Skyler Marks provided most of the Buddies' offense going 2-3, with a double, and both Buddies' runs batted in.
In game 2, the Buddies lost a well fought game 5-4. The Buddies had three players with multiple hits. Alex Hefel, Hunter Gamoke, and Luke Hemker had two hits a piece, and Trae Cierzan, Hunter Kruse, and Josh Duellman all had a run batted in.
The Buddies will be back in action Wednesday, June 9th at 5:00 p.m. @ Winona Cotter Field.
A few things that parents and players might have questions about that we haven't had time to cover.
All Saturday and Sunday games are league games and are double headers, which means we play two games against the same team and they all will start at 11:00 a.m.
We will play most of our other league games on Wednesdays and most week day games will be one game played at 5:00 p.m.
Practices will be set for non-game days and will usually last around 2 and a half hours long and we will try to practice around 3 or 3:30 p.m. start.
Please use the website as an excellent source of information. We try to keep this updated as soon as we have information about anything we are doing.
Any questions, please do not hesitate to ask Matt O'Brien or Matt Cada. Sally Cierzan can also answer some parent questions as well, as she is a returning parent from last year.
Directions to the fields we are playing at are located on the left side of the page titled directions
Winona VFW Buddies Roster 2010
The Winona VFW Buddies have set their roster for the 2010 season. The Buddies would like to thank all of those who participated in this year's tryouts and congratulations to those who made the team.
Here is the 2010 VFW Buddies roster in alphabetical order:
Roger Brosnahan, Owen Burnikel, Trae Cierzan, Jordan Duellman, Josh Duellman, Hunter Gamoke,
Alex Hefel, Luke Hemker, Tyler Kapusman, Daniel Karnick, Daniel Kronebusch, Hunter Kruse,
Christian Kuehner, Skyler Marks, James Muras, and Jared Speltz.
Practice dates are still being determined as well as our parent/player team meeting. Keep watching the website for updates, the coaches will try to get a hold of each player via phone with any updates as well.
Beech, Romine Shine at Perfect Game Showcase
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Brandon Beech and Jordan Romine attended the Perfect Game Showcase on August 22nd and 23rd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The camp featured some of the best young high school prospects in the Midwest region of the country.
It is very important that young athletes who have hopes of continuing their careers beyond the high school level attend these showcase camps, to initiate exposure for their upcoming high school seasons.
Here is the Perfect Game website and 2010 showcase schedule:
Coach O'Brien will no longer be using his old e-mail, he can now be reached at email@example.com
Former Buddies to Continue Careers at the College Level
Former Winona VFW Buddies Austin Rumpca and Brandon Schmit will have the opportunity to continue their baseball careers at the college level by signing National Letters of Intent to play baseball at Rochester Community and Technical College in Rochester, MN.
Rumpca a catcher, batted .314, with 3 doubles, 1 home run, and 12 runs batted in, in 26 games for the Winona Buddies in 2007.
Schmit an outfielder, batted .356, with 3 doubles, 3 triples, 1 home run, and 11 runs batted in, in 22 games for the Buddies in 2007.
Both Rumpca and Schmit graduated from Winona Senior High School in the spring of 2009.
VFW baseball: Key steal by Owatonna seals fate of Buddies’ season
By Landon Evanson | firstname.lastname@example.org
The VFW Winona Buddies baseball team’s most successful season in four years came to a close in heartbreaking fashion in the District divisional playoffs on Sunday.
Trailing 6-5 with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, Brandon Stoos popped to the shortstop in shallow left field, stranding the tying and go-ahead runs on base.
Winona scored in each of its first four at-bats and took 5-2 lead into the bottom of the fourth, but walks, clutch hitting and gutsy baserunning from Owatonna chipped away at that deficit until it erased it.
Jared Gilbertson laced a triple to begin the Winona fourth, setting the stage for a two-run frame.
Owatonna, however, answered right back with two runs of its own in the fourth, thanks to back-to-back walks for Mike Schwab and Travis Olsen to start the inning, and a two-run single from Nate Zimmerman that cut Winona’s lead to 5-4.
The Buddies again got a lead-off triple in the fifth, this time from Zach Benson, but were unable score.
Olsen tied the game at 5-5 with a run-scoring single to right in the bottom of the fifth, and was on first when the Huskies pulled off a double steal with runners at the corners that scored the eventual game-winning run.
“Hats off to Owatonna, I mean they battled and they just kept coming,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “It seemed like every time we did something well, they answered back.”
Tommy Mullen pitched through pain and discomfort in his pitching hand through six innings for Winona.
“He was in a tough spot,” O’Brien said. “Every time he throws, it’s painful. And he actually just got his wisdom teeth taken out on Thursday.”
Not feeling 100 percent didn’t stop Mullen from competing.
“He’s been our stud all year, so we really needed him to come for us, and he was a gamer,” O’Brien said. “He went out there and pitched as best as he could.”
Winona had one last surge left in them, but it ran out of gas just as it gained momentum.
With two outs and nobody on, Steve Tofstad dribbled an infield single to second, which was followed by walks for both Gilbertson and Robert Tofstad, before Stoos was retired to end the rally and the Buddies’ season.
“It seemed like we got just one play away from putting them away. It’s always tough to end on a close game like that.”
Despite the tough loss, Winona finished with 21 victories, took the consolation prize at the Saint Cloud tournament and placed third in the Stars of Tomorrow tournament.
“When the boys look back at this year, obviously they’re going to be disappointed that they didn’t advance,” O’Brien said. “But they have a lot that they should be proud of.”
The VFW Winona Buddies baseball team didn’t have the best start to the District divisional playoffs.
The Buddies fell 11-9 in the opening game of the playoffs to Owatonna and rebounded to defeat Red Wing 10-3. With the win, the Buddies continue the playoffs today at 12:30 p.m. against Owatonna.
“Obviously this isn’t where we wanted to be but our guys finally relaxed and took the pressure off themselves,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said.
Against Owatonna, Winona was playing from behind all game long. Trailing 3-1, the Buddies tied the game when Brandon Stoos had a two-run single in the bottom of the second inning. Owatonna countered with RBI singles in the third and fourth innings.
Owatonna scored another five in the fifth inning with the help of a three-run home run by Matt Simon.
The Buddies countered with six runs of their own in the bottom of the fifth, getting a three-run triple from Steven Tofstad and an RBI single from Brandon Frey. Unfortunately for Winona, there was no scoring after the fifth.
Tofstad finished 3-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs, Christian Kuehner went 2-for-2 with a stolen base and Stoos was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
“The biggest problem was that they got the first two runs of the game and that made us press a little bit,” O’Brien said. “We were playing not to lose instead of playing to win.”
Against Red Wing, Brandon Beech was the catalyst. Beech went seven innings, allowed five hits, four walks and struck out six. At the plate, Beech went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
“Brandon was fantastic,” O’Brien said. “He’s a gamer. We knew that he would be a great guy to have coming back (for the second game). He’s a great rebound guy.”
Robert Tofstad had two RBIs, Jared Gilbertson went 1-for-2 with two walks and an RBI and Stoos had an RBI against Red Wing.
The Winona VFW Buddies finished the season with a 20-7 overall record and a 9-3 First District league record which earned them the #3 seed and the right to host a portion of the Divisional Tournament.
Winona will be hosting #6 seed Owatonna and #11 seed Red Wing in the double elimination tournament. All games will be played at Winona Cotter's Baseball Field.
Here is the schedule for this weekend's games.
11:00am - Game #1 - Owatonna vs. Red Wing
1:30pm - Game #2 - Winona vs. Winner of Game #1
4:00pm - Game #3 - Winona vs. Loser of Game #1
Sunday (Games depend on record of teams)
12:00pm- Game #4 (If all teams are 1-1, Owatonna vs Red Wing) OR (if one team is 2-0 vs team with 1 win)
2:30pm- Game #5 (winner of Owatonna vs Red Wing would play Winona) OR if necessary game if the 2-0 team lost to the one win team.
Game #6 if necessary game of the latter part of Game #5. Time to be determined.
Admission for the games are $5 for adults each day of the tournament and children free. We will have a concession stand and the restrooms behind the press box will be open.
Please spread the word about our games, so we can have a great crowd to support the boys at their home tournament!
Buddies Win Consolation Championship
St. Cloud, MN
The Winona VFW Buddies captured the consolation championship of the St. Cloud tournament with an exciting 6-5 walk-off victory over Duluth East.
The Buddies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning capped off by a Steven Tofstad RBI single. Duluth answered back with 2 runs of their own in the second to it 2-2.
Winona took a 5-4 lead heading into the sixth inning when Duluth tied it at 5 on a close play at home. Winona managed to limit the damage, leaving the go ahead run at third base. Both teams threatened in the bottom and top of their inning. Leaving the game tied at 5 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning.
Steven Tofstad started the inning with a two strike base hit. Derek Sorensen worked a 3-2 walk bringing up Trae Cierzan. Cierzan laid down a sacrifice bunt moving the runners over to second and third with one out. James Muras worked his way on via a walk to load the bases for Brandon Frey. Frey hit a flare just beyond the reach of the brought in infielders for the game winning RBI and walk-off victory for the Buddies.
Tofstad lead the Buddies 11 hit attack going 4-4, with 3 RBI, Ryan Woodard was 2-4, with an RBI, and 2 stolen bases, and Christian Kuehner added a double.
Derek Sorensen got the win for the Buddies pitching the final two innings, allowing 1 run, on 3 hits, while walking 1, and striking out 0.
"That was an exciting way to end such a great tournament," Winona Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "The boys played great baseball all weekend and really deserved this win. Hopefully, we can take this momentum going into playoffs."
The Buddies finish the regular season with a 20-7 record 9-3 in First District play. They earned the right to host a portion of the divisional playoffs, which will be held July 24-26 at Winona Cotter High School Baseball Field. Times and teams have yet to be determined.
The Winona VFW Buddies won two games in the consolation part of the St. Cloud tournament to place them in the consolation championship. The Buddies beat St. Cloud East 8-0 followed by a 6-2 win over Sartell.
In game 1, the Buddies pounded out 12 hits and 8 runs against tournament host St. Cloud East, ending the game in six innings due to a tournament 8 run rule.
Brandon Beech was 2-2, with an RBI, Steven Tofstad was 2-3, with a triple, and an RBI, Jared Gilbertson was 2-3, with an RBI, and Ryan Woodard was 2-4, with 2 stolen bases.
"We came out and put up 6 runs in the third inning on 5 hits, and that kind of took the wind out of their sails," Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "Everyone contributed to that win and as a team we had great at bats."
Joey Miller earned the victory for the Buddies, throwing six shutout innings, scattering 3 hits, while walking 3 and striking out 4.
"Joey's been on vacation for about a week," O'Brien said. "I was extremely impressed with how well he threw and the confidence he displayed on the mound."
In game 2, the Buddies raced to an early lead, only to have to fend off Sartell in the top of the seventh inning, clinging to a 6-2 victory.
The Buddies held a 6-1 lead heading into the seventh inning, but Sartell rattled Winona starter Brandon Beech scoring 1 run, and loading the bases, before Beech induced a ground ball for the last out of the game.
Beech went the distance on the mound for the Buddies, allowing 2 runs, on 5 hits, while walking 7, and striking out 2.
"Brandon's numbers don't look that impressive," O'Brien said. "He threw well, the walks were scattered and he kind of ran out of gas at the end. He battled through it and finished his game like the gamer he is."
Jordan Romine lead Winona at the plate going 2-3, with a double, and 2 RBI, Beech helped his own cause going 2-3, with an RBI, Brandon Stoos added a double, and an RBI, and Steven Tofstad went 1-3, with 2 RBI.
Buddies drop opener at St. Cloud Tournament
Portion by Winona Daily News staff
ST. CLOUD, Minn. — The Winona VFW Buddies baseball team fell 11-4 Friday to St. Anthony in its opening game of the St. Cloud Tournament.
St. Anthony had its way on the mound and at the plate against Winona. Andy Wiggins went seven innings, allowed six hits, one walk and struck out three to get the win.
Mico Roessler went 3-for-5 with four RBIs and Nick O’Connell went 3-for-4 with an RBI for St. Anthony.
St. Anthony came into the game with a 16-1 record.
“They have a pretty solid ball club,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “They just did a great job of battling us.”
The Buddies took the early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first scoring a run on an RBI triple from Brandon Beech. He later scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Ryan Woodard.
A four run third inning provided St. Anthony some breathing room as they were able to fend off the Buddies late rally.
Woodard had two RBIs, Beech and Christian Kuehner each had a triple and Robert Tofstad had a double for the Buddies (16-7).
We will be playing our first game at 4:00 p.m. Friday at Joe Faber Field against St. Anthony. If we win, we play at 8:30 p.m. Friday night at Joe Faber Field. If we lose our first game, we play at 12:15 p.m. Saturday.
As a team we will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express (4322 Clearwater Road) and as a reminder the boys stay free. The field directions are listed on the website. Make sure to bring your parent contact sheet in case you need to get a hold of other parents or the coaches. Please remind the boys to bring all their undershirts for our jerseys.
Summer baseball roundup: Buddies earn home game in playoffs with victory
Portion by Winona Daily News staff
ROCHESTER, Minn. — The Winona VFW Buddies baseball team ended its conference season on a high note Wednesday.
The Buddies scored five runs in the first three innings and ended up defeating Rochester Mayo, the top team in First District, 8-4. With the win, Winona earned a home game for the first part of the divisional playoffs.
Christian Kuehner set the tempo for Winona (16-6, 9-3), leading off the game with a solo home run.
"That was fun to watch," Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. "For that to be his first career home run in a big game like that, was pretty special."
Jared Gilbertson struck out four in six innings to pick up the win.
"Jared has been big for us all season," O'Brien said. "He's pitched a lot of innings and we know we are going to get a strong performance out of him every time he takes the mound."
Ryan Woodard and Jordan Romine each had two hits and a triple, Brandon Beech had two RBIs, Steven Tofstad went 2-for-2 with an RBI and Robert Tofstad had a double and an RBI.
“We finally played our type of baseball,” O’Brien said. “Today, we got locked in and played a complete game. It was one of our best games of the year and it was at the right time.”
AUSTIN, Minn. — The VFW Winona Buddies baseball team didn’t have the best start to its doubleheader against Austin Monday, but it had a great finish.
After dropping the first game 9-4 to Austin, the Buddies rebounded to beat Austin 13-3 in five innings in First District action.
To start Game 2, Winona (15-6, 8-3) had its first eight batters reach base, with seven of them getting hits. By the time Austin came to bat in the bottom of the first, the Buddies were ahead 10-0.
Scott Malotka went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, Brandon Frey went 2-for-2 with a double, Derek Sorensen went 2-for-4 with an RBI, James Muras had two RBIs and Jared Gilbertson had a double and an RBI for Winona.
In Game 1, Steven Tofstad went 2-for-3, Brandon Beech went 3-for-4 and Robert Tofstad had two doubles and three RBIs for the Buddies.
“In the first game, we made a couple mistakes and they capitalized,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “In the second game, we were a little fired up. We came out ready to go.”
The Winona VFW Buddies baseball team swept a doubleheader with rival Northfield by scores of 6-5 and 11-0 in five innings Thursday.
In Game 1, the Buddies came from 3 down to take a 6-3 lead heading into the top of the sixth inning. Winona starting pitcher Jared Gilbertson pitching on 3 days rest, got into a jam, loading the bases with one out. The Buddies called upon closer Trae Cierzan who threw three shutout innings the night before.
Cierzan induced an inning ending 6-4-3 double play to get the Buddies out of a big jam. Shortstop Ryan Woodard made a great play on the hard hit ground ball flipped to second baseman Zach Benson who threw a strike to Robert Tofstad at first to get the Buddies out of the inning unscathed.
In the top of the seventh, Northfield battled back scoring two runs off Cierzan, loading the bases with one out, down by one run. Cierzan dug deep again, getting a ground ball to Woodard again, he flipped to Benson, who threw a little wild to first, forcing Tofstad to make an acrobatic catch to record the final out of the game.
"Amazing," Winona Coach Matt O'Brien said. "For Trae to come into a big situation and get two ground balls for us, in those positions, amazing."
"Woody made two major league plays at short on those double plays," O'Brien said. "Then Zach having the presence of mind to get rid of the baseball and Robert going above and beyond to catch the ball, just incredible plays all around."
Christian Kuehner went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI, Jordan Romine went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI and Brandon Stoos went 2-for-2.
In Game 2, the bats came out as Winona pounded out 11 runs on 9 hits.
Kuehner went 2-for-4, Gilbertson went 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs, Derek Sorensen had a triple and James Muras had a double for the Buddies (14-5, 8-2).
"We've been waiting for Jared to come around hitting," O'Brien said. "He shortened up his stride and I think his timing is coming back to him."
On the mound, Sorensen threw a complete game shutout. He allowed 4 hits, while striking out 1, and walking 2.
The Buddies are off until Monday July 6th, when they travel to Austin (7-1) for a double header.
“We’re starting to play our type of baseball,” O’Brien said. “We had guys working hard on every play and stepping up with big hits. That’s the way we should play everyday.”
The Winona VFW Buddies provided some late inning fire power to propel them past Faribault 8-4 in a First District game at Winona Cotter Field.
The Buddies trailed 4-0 in the fourth before coming back with 2 runs in the bottom of the fourth, 4 runs in the fifth, and adding 2 more runs in the sixth.
"That was fun to watch," Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "The boys battled and really came together as a team today."
James Muras started on the mound for the Buddies going four innings, allowing four runs, on 6 hits, while striking out 2, and walking four. Trae Cierzan came on in relief to pick up the win, pitching three shutout innings. He struck out six, walked zero, and didn't allow a hit.
The Buddies 3, 4, and 5 hitters combined to go 5-10 at the plate with 5 RBI. Zach Benson went 2-3 with a triple and 3 RBI, Jordan Romine 2-4 with a double and an RBI, and Brandon Beech went 1-3 with an RBI and 2 stolen bases.
"Those guys have been having some great at bats all season," O'Brien said. "If I was a pitcher, I wouldn't want to face those three in a row."
The Winona VFW Buddies split a double header Tuesday, losing the first game 4-1 and winning the night cap 14-5.
In the first game, Mets pitcher Ryan Tiska gave up 8 hits, but only allowed one run in the complete game victory. The Buddies countered with Joey Miller who pitched well enough to win, but a 4 run fourth inning proved to be the difference.
Robert Tofstad lead the Buddies at the plate going 2-3 with a double and an RBI, and Brandon Beech and Zach Benson added 2 hits a piece.
"The first game was disappointing," Buddies Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We didn't do the little things that matter the most. We took the game of baseball for granted."
In game 2, the Buddies answered the bell early and often scoring 14 runs on 9 hits, while taking advantage of Mets' pitchers 11 walks and 2 hit batters.
Brandon Frey threw four solid innings, allowing 4 runs, on 5 hits, while striking out 7, and walking 2.
Frey also lead the Buddies' offensive attack going 2-2 with an RBI. Brandon Stoos was 2-4 with an RBI, Trae Cierzan added a double and 2 RBI, and James Muras reached base 4 times, adding a double and 3 RBI.
"The second game we did an excellent job with our pitch selection at the plate," O'Brien said. "It was a total team effort."
The Winona VFW Buddies fell in the semifinal game of the Stars of Tomorrow tournament 3-1 to La Crosse Central at Copeland Park, home of the La Crosse Loggers.
The Buddies got off to a great start with a lead off double from Christian Kuehner to start the game. A Tommy Mullen sacrifice bunt moved Kuehner to third and a wild pitch allowed Kuehner to score the first run of the game. La Crosse Central struck back in the second with one of their own to tie the game at 1 all.
Winona pitcher Jared Gilbertson was able to wiggle out of jams and hold Central to one run until sixth inning. In the sixth, Central put two across the board to take a 3-1 lead and held on to the lead with 1, 2, 3 7th inning.
"Gilby was able to work out of some jams and make pitches when he had to, Buddies' Head Coach Matt O'Brien said."The walks will come back to hurt you, but I think it shows a lot about his character to have seven walks and only give up three runs."
Mike Voter, Gilbertson's counterpart, matched Gilbertson, holding the Buddies to the one run, giving up 7 hits, while striking out 8, and walking 1, in the complete game effort. Gilbertson went the distance, giving up 3 hits, striking out 4, while walking seven, and hitting 1 batter, in the losing effort.
"I thought we played great baseball," O'Brien said. "We hit the ball well and played great defense, they (Central) got an outstanding performance out of their pitcher and the ball bounced their way today."
Brandon Beech and Christian Kuehner had doubles for the Buddies who fell to 11-5 on the season.
Stars of Tommorrow: Buddies advance to championship round
By Winona Daily News staff
ONALASKA, Wis. — The Winona Buddies VFW baseball team did most of its work in two innings Saturday at the Stars of Tomorrow tournament.
Winona defeated Onalaska 9-2 and Prairie du Chien 10-0 in five innings to get to the championship bracket of the tournament.
Winona opens the championship round at 9 a.m. today at Copeland Park against La Crosse Central. If the Buddies win, they will play for the championship at 2 p.m. at Copeland.
Of the 19 runs scored Saturday, 18 came in four innings — two five-run and two four-run innings in each game.
“We’ve been working on getting extra swings in practice, and not just swings, but quality swings,” Winona coach Matt O’Brien said. “We’ve been trying to carry that approach to games and, today, we finally locked in and did that.”
The Buddies (11-3) committed just one error in the two games and gave up a combined five hits.
Jared Gilbertson and Trae Cierzan combined to pitch a one-hitter in the nightcap win, while Brandon Beech pitched a complete-game four-hitter in the opener. He struck out five and walked three. He was also 1-for-3 with a two-run double.
Joey Miller and Tommy Mullen each had two RBIs in the first game, while Jordan Romine went a combined 4-for-4 with a double and an RBI on the day. Miller was 2-for-2 with an RBI in the second game, while James Muras was 2-for-3 with an RBI double for the Buddies.
The Winona VFW Buddies baseball team opened up the Stars of Tomorrow tournament with a one and one record. The Buddies lost their opener 9-2 to Albert Lea before winning their second game of the day 8-3 over Green Bay.
In the first game the Buddies couldn't get any momentum going off Albert Lea starter Aaron Klatt. He held the Buddies to 1 run on 4 hits in five innings. The Buddies struggled with some control problems and some mental miscues, as their pitchers combined to walk nine batters. Leading hitters for Winona were Steven Tofstad 2-3 with an RBI and Jordan Romine 1-3 with a double and an RBI.
"The first game we didn't play that bad," Buddies head coach Matt O'Brien said. "We struggled throwing strikes and Albert Lea executed."
The Buddies' bats came to life in game 2 of pool play, putting up 7 runs in the first two innings. Tofstad continued his hot bat going 2-3, Ryan Woodard was 2-4 with 2 stolen bases, and Trae Cierzan and Jordan Romine added 2 RBI. Tommy Mullen went the distance on the mound for the Buddies giving up 3 runs, scattering 3 hits, striking out six and walking six.
"We came out with a plan at the plate in the second game," O'Brien said. "We waited for pitches in the strike zone and put good swings on the baseball."
Gilbertson throws five-inning no-hitter in Buddies’ rout
By Rick Solem | email@example.com
The phrase of the day was “effectively wild.”
There are days when Jared Gilbertson is not wild. There are days when he is. And then there was Tuesday.
Gilbertson walked three and hit two in five innings pitching for the Winona VFW Buddies baseball team.
Some would call that wild, but considering what the rest of his line looked like, it was effective.
The soon-to-be junior at Winona Senior High School gave up zero hits and struck out 10 in the Buddies’ 10-0, five-inning win over the Rochester Knights in a First District matchup.
Only one batter made contact off Gilbertson — Rochester’s leadoff hitter popped out twice to the second baseman.
Everyone else walked, got plunked or struck out.
In 17 innings pitched this season, Gilbertson hasn’t given up a run.
“We’re trying to work on him being consistent in the zone,” said Winona coach Matt O’Brien, whose team has won six in a row. “When he’s down in the zone, throwing strikes, he’s going to keep us in every game.
“At times, it helps him to be wild. They’ll chase out of the zone and he’ll come back with a strike. Tonight was one of those nights where he was, sometimes, effectively wild.”
Gilbertson admitted that hitting a couple guys puts a little fear into the opponents, but he said that’s never on purpose.
“I’ll throw it wild and come back with a strike,” Gilbertson said. “I don’t try that, but it worked out though.”
In the third inning, Gilbertson nailed his second and final batter. After that, he told himself that was enough. He struck out the next seven to end the game, preserve the scoreless streak and retain the no-hitter.
“I knew I had to go,” Gilbertson said. “I figured if I hit any more guys, I’d get pulled out.”
Meanwhile, the offense did more than enough for Gilbertson.
Winona (8-2, 6-1) scored three runs on the Knights (0-7, 0-7) in the first inning and put up seven in the fourth.
Those seven runs, which included a bases-clearing, three-run double by Zach Benson, came on five hits and three walks.
“It felt like a routine play, but I got lucky,” Benson said of his long fly ball to left that landed just in front of the fence.
Batting from the No. 6 spot, Benson was 2-for-3 with five RBIs. The Buddies six through nine hitters combined to go 6-for-10 with six RBIs.
Christian Kuehner was also 2-for-3 and added an RBI.
Summer roundup: Mullen pitches Buddies out of trouble
By Winona Daily News staff
Before the rains came on Sunday, the Winona Buddies VFW baseball team played what coach Matt O’Brien called “our most complete game of the year” with a 4-1 win over Rochester.
Tommy Mullen only surrendered four hits in a complete game, but was challenged by four Winona (7-2, 5-1) errors.
Mullen answered the call, stranding Rochester (8-4, 4-3) runners at third in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and left them at first and second in the seventh.
“(Mullen) did a great job of keeping his composure,” O’Brien said. “And he was able to get out of some jams.”
The Buddies scored three runs in the first, ignited by Brandon Beech’s triple. Beech and Jordan Romine both finished 2-for-3, while Romine knocked in two.
“We got some clutch hits and a great performance from Mullen,” O’Brien said. “And though we made four errors, our defense made plays when they had to.”
The Winona VFW Buddies erupted for 26 runs in two games in their sweep of Waseca. The Buddies won the first game 14-2.
Zach Benson, Ryan Woodard, Jordan Romine, and Christian Kuehner lead the attack at the plate for the Buddies. Kuehner was 3-4, with a double and 3 RBI, Woodard was 2-3, with a double, and 3 RBI, Benson was 2-2 with 2 RBI, and Romine was 2-3, with 2 RBI.
Brandon Beech started on the mound for the Buddies, going 5 innings, giving up 2 runs, 1 earned, on 4 hits, while walking three, and striking out 9.
"We did what we needed to do today," Coach Matt O'Brien said. "We've been doing a lot of hitting in practice and it's starting to show."
In game 2, it was almost a replica of the first game, as the Buddies blasted Waseca 12-2. James Muras threw four solid innings allowing 2 runs, on 5 hits, while striking out 2 and walking 1. Romine was 2-3 with a triple and 2 RBI, Robert Tofstad was 2-3 with a double and 3 RBI, and Muras added a double and 3 RBI.
Mullen came in relief with one out in the top of the seventh inning and got the save on his first pitch to help the VFW Winona Buddies baseball team to a narrow 2-1 win over Rochester Century.
With Winona up 2-0, Trae Cierzan started the seventh inning on the mound for the Buddies (4-2, 3-1) and ran into some trouble. Century started the inning with a single and a walk. After a strikeout, Cierzan had another walk to load the bases. John Meyer followed with a sacrifice fly to right field to cut the lead in half.
After the sacrifice fly, Buddies coach Matt O’Brien called on Mullen to get out of the jam. Mullen came in, and on one pitch got the next hitter to pop out to end the game.
“Our pitchers struggled, but they were able to work out of those jams,” O’Brien said. “I was confident in Tommy in that situation. It was a luxury to have Tommy come in right there.”
Brandon Beech hit a solo home run in the sixth and Jordan Romine had a double and an RBI in the fourth for the Buddies.
Expectations are high for the Winona VFW Buddies baseball team.
Two years ago, they got to the final four in the district playoffs. Last year, they were eliminated by a pair of comeback, one-run losses.
This year, “their goal is state,” third-year coach Matt O’Brien said.
It’s a lofty goal, but an attainable one for the Buddies based on what O’Brien sees at practice.
“This is one of the hardest-working teams I’ve coached,” he said. “They work hard at practice, stay after and, sometimes, we have to pry them off the field and tell them to go home.”
The Buddies are off to a 2-1 start — 2-0 in First District play.
Last season had a bitter ending to it and Winona hopes to redeem itself.
In the First District, double-elimination playoffs, the Buddies saw two leads get away late.
Against Albert Lea, Winona was down 5-3 heading into the seventh, but took a 6-5 lead only to see the Tigers come back for a 7-6 win.
In their final game, the Buddies were up 7-2 against Northfield, but gave up six runs in the sixth and were eliminated.
“Our older players remember that and they don’t want our season to end like that again,” O’Brien said. “We’ve talked about (state). We’ve had some talented teams the last couple years, but not only is this team talented, they work hard and I think they can take the next step.”
Five veteran players return from last summer, including all three outfielders.
“This is probably the best defensive team I’ve coached, too,” O’Brien said. “We’re fast in the outfield. As long as our pitchers throw strikes, our defense will keep us in every game.”
Solidifying that defense is newcomer Ryan Woodard.
“We’re pretty 16-year-old dominant,” O’Brien said, “but he’s been a nice surprise.
“I’ve been around a lot of shortstops and he’s one of the smoothest. When you have a great outfield and middle infield, it’s tough to go wrong as a pitcher. All they’ll have to do is throw strikes.”
That job will go to main starters Tommy Mullen and Jared Gilbertson. Both have already thrown complete-game wins this season.
“We have a great one-two punch that both threw varsity last spring along with Brandon Beach, who didn’t see a lot of time, but could be our No. 3,” O’Brien said.
VFW baseball: Gilbertson’s gem propels Buddies
By Winona Daily News staff
RED WING, Minn. — Jared Gilbertson threw a complete-game, three-hitter in leading the VFW Buddies baseball team to a 4-0 win over Red Wing.
Gilbertson struck out nine and walked three in the First District matchup Wednesday.
“He threw extremely well, and they played great defense behind him,” VFW coach Matt O’Brien said. “Once he got ahead he was able to finish them off.”
The Buddies (2-1, 2-0) broke the game open in the fourth with three runs, including an RBI single by Scott Malotka and a sacrifice fly by Robert Tofstad.
Tommy Mullen was 2-for-2 and Zach Benson went 2-for-4 with a double for the Buddies, while Zack Plein was 2-for-3 for Red Wing (1-3, 1-3).
The Winona VFW Buddies earned a split in their season opener at Dart's Park in Owatonna. The Buddies won the first game 3-1 before falling 9-6 in the second game.
In game 1, the Buddies received a strong performance on the mound from Tommy Mullen. Mullen went the distance, giving up one unearned run, scattering four hits, while striking out seven, and walking two.
"Tommy's a gamer," Head Coach Matt O'Brien said. "Our defense was solid behind him and when you have good defense and good pitching, you're tough to beat."
The Buddies broke a scoreless tie in the top of the sixth when Steven Tofstad started the inning off with a triple. Jared Gilbertson drove him in to put the Buddies on top. Owatonna tied things up in the bottom of the inning. In the top of the seventh Brandon Stoos delivered an RBI single and the Buddies tacked on another run via a passed ball to give them a 3-1 lead they would hold onto.
Brandon Beech added a 2-4 performance for the Buddies.
"We had some older guys come up with clutch hits in some big situations," O'Brien said.
In game 2, the Buddies fell 9-6 in a five inning game. Robert Tofstad had a bases clearing double and Trae Cierzan and Zach Benson chipped in RBI singles.
"Overall I thought we played well in both games," O'Brien said. "We just need to cut down on the mental mistakes."
The Winona VFW Buddies will once again be competing in the St. Cloud VFW Tournament on July 10th, 11th, and 12th in St. Cloud, MN. The team and coaches will be staying at the Americ Inn 4385 Clearwater Rd St Cloud, MN 56301 (320) 253-6337 Friday and Saturday night. The Winona VFW pays for all the players hotel rooms and the coaches supervise the players. There are still rooms available at the Americ Inn if parents wish to stay there, otherwise we will be playing at Dick Putz/Joe Faber Field/Complex with directions and the address of the field located on the Directions part of the website. We are scheduled to play Friday during the day while the rest of the games depend on how we do. We stayed at the Best Western/Kelly Inn last year, but because of weddings we had to make a switch.
Buddies fall to Northfield in playoffs
By Winona Daily News staff
ALBERT LEA, Minn.
The Winona Buddies VFW baseball team was eliminated from the First District playoffs Sunday, losing 8-7 to Northfield.
Northfield erased a 7-2 deficit with six runs in the top of the sixth inning. Sam Moss drove in the go-ahead run with a three-run home run.
Jake Filand, Kyle Kowalewski, Brandon Beech and Erik Chapman had two hits apiece for the Buddies, who finished their season 18-10.
Kowalewski went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs and Filand 2-for-3 with a triple.
“It’s obviously disappointing for us,” Buddies coach Matt O’Brien said. “But we played our best ball at the end of the season. Our kids have nothing to hang their heads about.”
Buddies earn playoff split
By Winona Daily News staff
ALBERT LEA, Minn.
The Winona Buddies are just three wins away from the VFW baseball state tournament, but they’re also one loss away from season-ending elimination.
The Buddies experienced both extremes of a walk-off win Saturday afternoon in the First District playoffs, picking up a 3-2 walk-off victory against Northfield before losing 7-6 to Albert Lea in similar fashion.
With one out and the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the seventh, Winona’s Brandon Beech came through with an infield hit to drive in the winning run against Northfield.
Beech and Jake Filand both went 2-for-3, Logan Hemker 1-for-2 with a double and two RBIs and Kyle Kowalewski had a double for the Buddies (18-9).
Kowalewski picked up the win with one shutout inning in relief. Winona’s Jordan Ossefoort started and struck out seven over six innings.
Albert Lea came back from a 6-5 seventh-inning deficit, after the Buddies scored three runs with two outs in the top of the seventh, and advanced to the First District championship on a walk-off Winona throwing error. Had the Buddies held on, they would have needed just one win, and could have taken one loss in the process, to reach the state tournament. As is, the Buddies will play Northfield at 11 a.m. today for another shot at Albert Lea.
Winona’s Arik Jacquart, Steven Tofstad and Filand all went 2-for-4. Filand had a solo home run and Jacquart a two-run double.
“That was a heartbreaker,” Buddies coach Matt O’Brien said. “But we played a tough game and battled all the way through. It made our guys more hungry for (today). We’ll be ready to go.”